4 ways to keep enterprise content management systems relevant

An updated ECM strategy ensures information and process flow across the expanding government enterprise.

The experience of the government worker is undergoing a dramatic transformation. The rise of mobile, social and cloud technologies has changed how everyone works. People want to be productive anytime, anywhere, from any device or application, which has created a need for ease of content access. At the same time, many legacy enterprise content management (ECM) systems have been in place for a decade or more, and are in need of major upgrades or replacement.

Architected for a different era, these systems have been left behind by current working and computing environments. This has intensified the pressure on government IT teams to update their ECM strategy or face the control, security and compliance issues that are created when users bring consumer technologies  into the public sector IT environment. Devising a new approach to ECM will help agencies overcome shadow IT and adhere to required standards.

In order to meet the needs of both federal workers and compliance mandates, IT managers need to ensure their ECM strategies address these four goals:

1. Support new ways of working

Many ECM projects fail due to poor user adoption. Employees don’t buy in because the systems are cumbersome, non-intuitive or lack support for sharing and remote access. Today’s workforce has been shaped by the use of apps like Instagram, Snapchat and Uber. Modern ECM must embrace the applications and devices people use every day, taking cues from consumer apps so that the user experience is fresh, engaging and intuitive. Thirty-seven percent of the world’s workforce is predicted to be mobile in 2015 -- and this reality is felt in the government market as well. Highly mobile, very connected employees want IT solutions that allow them to work regardless of location, network or device. 

2. Prepare for the extended enterprise

Today’s enterprise is being reshaped by an exponential growth in connected activity and information flow. Agencies are no longer stand-alone entities. Instead, they often form an interconnected web of employees, contractors, suppliers and constituents. This makes the ability to share content and process across the extended enterprise an imperative for modern ECM. Legacy ECM systems were architected when users and content stayed behind the firewall on servers and PCs, but that simply isn’t feasible to support today’s government worker. Modern ECM needs to support the easy, controlled sharing of content and process, both inside and outside the agency.

3. Plan for the explosion in digital content

We are in the midst of a data deluge. IDC predicts a 50x growth in digital content from 2010 to 2020, with 90 percent of it unstructured information such as emails, documents and video. All of this new content must be properly stored, managed and governed. With so much content, it can be harder than ever for users to find the information they need quickly. If content is not adequately managed, governed, or secured because it is “in the wild” -- spread across network drives, mobile devices, laptops, email, USB sticks and consumer file-sharing sites -- then it quickly raises security, compliance, operational and other risks.

Modern ECM needs to use contextual data -- comments, preferences, geo-location information -- to drive business processes that move content to the right person at the right time within the right application. This will enable information to be put into context so that people and processes work more efficiently and effectively.

4. Embrace evolving IT infrastructure

Legacy ECM platforms are generally not built for cloud scale and offer only limited mobile support. Many government agencies have shifted to a hybrid storage approach, storing content both on premises and in the cloud. This requires seamless syncing between the two locations. An agency’s ECM approach needs to recognize the need for control and compliance and must be able to support traditional on-premises deployments, virtualized environments, private cloud deployments as well as full-fledged public-cloud SaaS deployments and everything in between.

Agencies must adopt a strategic platform for meeting the often conflicting needs of users -- who want to work remotely and with people outside of the agency -- and IT that must ensure that content is secure and managed in accordance with governance and compliance policies. Agencies will need to figure out which content is appropriate for sharing in the cloud, and which should remain on premises behind the firewall.

The way we work – the way we access, use and share content – is undergoing a massive transformation. People are more mobile, projects are more collaborative and enterprises are more diversified. ECM plays a vital role in storing, managing and controlling the content that keeps the government moving.

Agencies must address the need to allow people to work where and how they want, enable information and process to flow across the extended enterprise, develop a system to handle digital content management and make deployment an easy process for IT teams across the IT infrastructure. Keeping the current workplace in mind when crafting an updated ECM strategy will empower government employees to do and share great work.

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