The growth of new trends, new features, new approaches and huge disruption in the digital space has radically changed the content management industry and enterprise technology. With the beginning of the year 2000, Enterprise Content Management turned up as the solution to data storage and information management. The demands have, however, shifted from simply storing and managing content to the business application and use of that content. ECM as the first-generation system managed to brilliantly serve as repository of files but lacked the practical usability of content and integration with other business process. Consequently, in January 2017, Gartner declared ECM as dead and called for reinventing ECM as the need of the hour with a new category of software solutions termed as Content Services.
ECM as the central repository
ECM began with the capability of merging different content storage systems together including the enterprise document management, web content management and digital asset management. ECM was implemented with an assumption that content managed by these different platforms has common business requirement and it would act as a single central repository for all the content need.
The evolution of technology, the different application and use cases of documents, web pages and rich media created the constraint as it became seemingly impossible to manage such content from one single platform. The real business requirement to meet complex and urgent business needs was lacking. Hence, it became important to shift the discussion over ECM as content repository to the business use of content and accessibility of the critical information they contained.
Defining Content Services
Content Services has now taken centerstage and has become the point of debate and discussion. According to a Gartner December 2016 report, Reinventing ECM: Introducing Content Services Platforms and Applications, content services are defined as “a set of services and microservices, embodied either as an integrated product suite or as separate applications that share common APIs and repositories, to exploit diverse content types and to serve multiple constituencies and numerous use cases across an organization."
Advantages of Content Services over ECM
Consumable Content Capability
Content services is an approach of utilizing the evolving technology and its tools and strategies for improving operational efficiency. Incorporation of these tools offers efficient usability of content by individuals and teams- a departure from simply storage and management of content with a centralized repository. It enables business users to leverage the content for critical business needs by creating, sharing, collaborating and transforming the content to gain insight.
Information Sharing and Collaboration
Content services can save organizations time and money with huge operational benefits by integrating several technology solutions across the enterprise. With content services, the capability of ECM to capture, manage, store and preserve content can be extended to improve information sharing, automation, collaboration and analytics. It lets organizations solve important questions as to how to give users access to the information they need, the time and place they need it and the type of format which helps them to work with.
Faster Access to Information - Repository Neutral
Content services makes data accessible to users and helps in connecting people, process and content across organization and with customers, supplier and business partners. It eliminates the need to capture and centralize information by allowing content to remain where it was initially generated, in different repositories, making it accessible and easily governed. It thus dismantles the information silos built over the years owing to a central repository- connecting existing business systems and repositories. It helps users to quickly and easily search and retrieve information irrespective of where it resides. Content services platform when integrated with core business system can give context to the content and transform information into knowledge leading to improved decision-making.
Cost Effective Solution
A centralized ECM system is both costly and time consuming as keeping information in legacy applications is not cost effective. System maintenance alone creates huge drain on budgets and blocks the opportunities for application infrastructure modernization. The approach to content services will help deliver content cost-effectively for meeting emerging business innovations. Hence, modern content services platform represents a significant reduction of cost over legacy ECM systems. It enables businesses with new possibilities to invest its IT budgets on innovation and transformation.
Leveraging Artificial Intelligence
Content services can leverage the power of artificial intelligence by automating content classification, identification and prediction with much better quality, speed and volume than humanly possible. It can thus increase overall productivity and reduces the work load of employees to concentrate on more critical tasks. With content services information can be accessed, used and delivered quickly and cost effectively while ensuring governance and compliance requirement.
The time is to reinvent ECM and not replace it entirely
ECM solutions have outlived their relevance in a digitally transformed, interconnected, cloud-enabled world to be taken over by more flexible and dynamic content services platform approach. However, content services have not come up to completely dismantle ECM but as an evolution in ECM solutions. They do not replace enterprise content management completely but help organizations build on the investments they have made on ECM systems by enhancing the value propositions with integration of new capabilities. ECM systems will continue to play significant role in content management at least for some time to come. All said, there is certainly a shift to content services and business are embracing this change.
Content services is an approach of utilizing the evolving technology and its tools and strategies for improving operational efficiency.