June 9, 2017

Transparent Systems: Defining a New Category of Content Management

5 minute read

Enterprise content management is evolving along with the way people work. In a recent post on CMSWire, Gimmal Founder Mike Alsup outlined what Gimmal sees as the next step in the growth of the discipline and as it expands to cover the ever-growing volume of critical business information.

The pace of business today requires unprecedented flexibility from the technologies we use to enable knowledge sharing. Information must be accessible from wherever people need to access it.

What are Transparent Systems?

Millions of consumers use transparent systems every day, though they may not be familiar with the term.  Amazon’s One-Click ordering is one example of a transparent system, another being the platforms advertisers use to track you across the web.

Transparent systems aggregate a multi-faceted understanding of who you are and what you are doing so they can cater to your needs in the moment. In the case of records and content management, that comes in the form of automation around content tagging, information policies, workflow, and the information lifecycle. Microsoft's introduction of the Security and Compliance Center in the E5 tenant of Office 365 is the manifestation of its version of a transparent approach to governance.

A transparent governance solution does not necessarily need to physically move the content to manage it: the content remains in its original location, but the solution manages retention policies and overall file plan.

While the popular platforms of the past require you to move the content so it can be managed, the cloud-based future roundly rejects that convention. Although a “records center” may be desirable in certain scenarios, it also introduces a variety of concerns around security and workflow impact, and ultimately, how the people will find and be able to access records when they are moved.

SharePoint’s records management features do enable you to manage records in-place, and in other areas where they may be weaker than legacy systems, there are third-party vendors to fill the gaps with much more agility.

The main benefit of transparent systems is simplicity for the user. And from that simplicity flow a variety of business benefits. Here are five:

  • Your users can always find their documents. With intelligent and adaptive search, users are always a few clicks away from the information they need. It does not matter to the user where information lives if it is imminently easy to find.
  • Security is better. Organizations are wary of the cloud because they are under the impression that a cloud-based platform is an insecure platform. Nothing could be further from the truth. Content that lives in Office 365 is in one of the most “security-certified” infrastructures in the world.  By simplifying information governance and deploying records management in SharePoint, businesses eliminate the need to maintain multiple security policies for multiple content repositories. In fact, SharePoint can be used as a central policy hub for content across all repositories.
  • Centralized policy management. This may not be a standard feature for all solutions, but it should be. Your policies should be managed in a central location with an intuitive user interface. This is especially relevant if you have disparate systems, which nearly every organization does. This allows your records managers to have a single file plan to manage for all content, and that file plan can then be managed from a single interface. This also improves auditability.
  • Quicker business results. If your information can be managed where it is used and created, then the governance can be defined and managed more easily. The quicker we route content through our workflows, the more quickly we can achieve our goals.
  • Scalability and longevity. This is not an idle prophesy – these systems are here, and the legacy market is ill-positioned to respond. Cloud and hybrid solutions will continue to supplant the market and become the standard, just as the range, breadth, and depth of data we produce and content we manage increases. The cloud is ready to provide the volume and ease-of-access the businesses of the future demand. It is your job to embrace this change before it is forced upon you.

Technology isn’t a driver. It’s an Enabler.

Users understand that they need access to information right at their fingertips, regardless of where they are. This can present both a multitude of opportunities and challenges for organizations.

The key to properly managing all this data is to strike a balance between security and usability. As we have alluded in the past, users will reject any systems or processes that are too restrictive. This is where automating information governance is key. By taking the end user away from much of the heavy lifting, we are ensuring accuracy while sparing the employee cumbersome workflows.

In the next post in this series, we will discuss how content is everywhere and how its variety and volume continue to expand. Clearly, this must be addressed from a content management standpoint or organizations will have serious compliance issues.

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