Social integration, mobility, and the cloud -- with a side dish of social media -- are becoming evermore critical elements of enterprise content management (ECM).
As the use of mobile devices rises, coupled with the popularity of cloud environments and unstructured content such as videos, organizations must look at the business case for upgrading their ECM systems, according to experts.
At the Laserfiche Empower 2013 conference in Anaheim, Calif., Kenneth Chin, research vice president of content, collaboration, and social at Gartner, said companies can expect to see an increased focus on improving and incorporating mobility, cloud computing, and social aspects into content management:
Regardless of whatever technology you deal in, you're going to see mobile come into play in all of the tech spaces, cloud in all of the tech spaces, and from an interface standpoint, the social interfaces will become increasingly important.
For starters, social content management will become more popular as the need to share and collaborate on documents grows, according to Chin: "As we talk about social, we're talking about work enablement and the consumerization of content management." He pointed to organizations that use fileshares and store content in blogs, social media channels, and wikis, all driving social content management.
"The future of social content management... is mobility," Chin said. Companies are distributing content though more channels: portals as well as mobile, and employees are consuming more content on their mobile devices, he said.
By 2015, Gartner expects 60 percent of information workers to interact with content applications via a mobile device. This will drive different ways of building the top level of access to content, driven by a proliferation of tablets and smartphones, Chin said.
But as companies look at mobility, they also need to look at security issues and compliance, as well as whether the number of different types of mobile devices could slow mobile adoption of applications. For example, Apple just came out with a seven-inch version of its iPad -- a smaller screen for consuming data. "That will make it more challenging as [companies] build out applications for different form factors and devices," he said.
ECM increasingly will move toward the cloud to accommodate social and mobile access. According to Gartner, 80 percent of ECM vendors will be providing cloud services alternatives. Chin said, "Some will be dedicated cloud services, supporting single clients. Others will be multi-tenant clouds, supporting multiple clients in the infrastructure."
Companies will want to assess whether it makes sense to create a private cloud or push content into the public cloud. Sensitive content may reside on-premises, but content meant for partners and customers can be easily hosted in the cloud. The cloud works well for deploying applications faster with smaller budgets, but organizations with regulatory limitations and sensitive content need to carefully assess security and compliance risks, he said. The organization's culture and technology should also be considered.
Finally, companies must review social media as part of their content management strategies. While social media is just posting content that comes with some risk when it comes to managing the content, companies are wondering how to archive things like YouTube videos and Facebook posts, part of unstructured content that is largely unmanaged, according to Chin. But once organizations hammer out the details of recapturing and archiving content, they can explore other ways to use social media for content management. One way would be to send bills to customers via Facebook, an idea that at least one telecom company is considering, Chin said.
— Christine Parizo is a freelance writer specializing in business and technology.