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Senior vice president and general manager of EMEA at Box

David Quantrell is senior vice president and general manager of EMEA at Box, where he drives the company's expansion across Europe. Most recently, David was president, EMEA, for McAfee,...


Surprisingly Obvious: The ascent of the Enterprise Content Management system

25 Jan, 2016 10:53 am

It is perhaps unsurprising that in the current era of digital transformation the value of company data or content is not only growing, but in most instances, growing exponentially. As it extends across multiple platforms, from mobile to web and over a sea of business applications, this content has become the lifeblood of the organisation.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the more we are able to learn about how to unlock the potential of content, the greater its value. But with so much at stake, it still surprises me to hear how often this value is locked into disconnected, disparate and even defunct systems.

What's in a system?

One telling observation on how content is approached from an IT procurement perspective is the variety of Content Management Systems (CMSs) you'll find in one organisation, against the single ERP or CRM application. This might seem like an odd comparison. After all, CMS' were not designed for such a broad application. In addition, those older enterprise systems have evolved over time to become a component of IT strategy. So perhaps it's just a little too early to be talking about a single CMS? 

The problem is that without taking a broad view on the value of a single CMS today, you risk making decisions that will lead to greater fragmentation in tomorrow's IT. For instance, as we know too well, business content in many organisations is increasingly shared across devices that are out of IT's control and even with people who are not registered employees. Attempting to counter this trend through restrictive governance policies flies in the face of what has actually made end users, and the company more productive. 

Adopting a single enterprise-level CMS opens the door to less 'stifling' IT strategies, and while no mainstream application exists as yet, there is compelling evidence of its potential - particularly in resource constrained organisations.

Towards a single CMS

The charity Oxfam has a pretty clear productivity goal which is to ensure 80 pence in every pound it receives goes directly towards those who need it most. This leaves a mere 12 pence for fundraising and 8 pence to cover running costs, of which IT is only a small part. The added challenge is that this global charity is structured around a large independent confederation.

The confederation has led to a highly fragmented IT organisation that was not only incurring costs as a result of overlapping systems but also impacted the productivity of its humanitarian efforts. The charity has since moved toward a unified content platform which has dramatically simplified the way users collaborate across 17 affiliates in the 90 countries they are present.

Peterborough City Council (PCC) in the UK, recently took a similar decision to move toward a single CMS, supporting the various services it offers. In fact, by moving to a cloud-based CMS it was able address two key challenges: Integrating content across previously disparate systems and avoiding investment in upgrade to new hardware it could ill afford. 

CMS as a Platform

The council's broader ambition is to build a platform that creates an environment for faster interaction with its citizens and communities. The near-term goal is integrate content with a CRM system, enterprise social networking, and single sign-on identity.
It's this view of the CMS 'as a platform' where we start to see serious potential. Firstly, there's the obvious advantage that comes with a content API: tighter integration with existing systems, automation of work processes and the opportunity for custom built apps. 

This can be further enhanced with the introduction of Metadata offering richness to the overall integration. There's also better control of the content experience so that it looks great on any screen. Management and security also becomes that much stronger as you can effectively track, analyse and audit every piece of content. 

Starting Point

This may seem theoretical but through our work we have gained some practical insights into moving toward a single CMS. First and foremost you need to start building an honest view of your content landscape from the end user perspective. You might find they are struggling with poor experiences or collaboration capabilities; it could even be an inability to access content from mobile devices.

Then investigate and plan for change. The key here is not to view content in isolation. The more ways you can enable your employees, the more likely they will adopt a new or refreshed content strategy.  Beyond this you can then look forward toward a single CMS. In doing so, there are a number of factors to consider but the most pressing is whether this CMS can itself be an enterprise-wide platform.

It may be surprisingly obvious but the single, Enterprise CMS can ultimately become the heart of your digital transformation strategy.

Credit photo : Box