Next business stress test: Content management modernisation

Cloud computing, artificial intelligence and external vendors/partners are essential to future-fit content strategies. So, do you feel stressed yet?
Read time 5min 50sec

According to Forrester, cloud, artificial intelligence and the importance of external partners are issues that will be even more prominent as we move forward in the digital world.

Businesses still maturing can learn from leaders already at the forefront of content management modernisation programmes. Forrester’s research indicates that in addition to content services, leaders are more likely to embrace three areas identified as essential to future-fit content strategies:

Cloud computing: A cloud foundation provides scale and adaptivity, as well as continuous vendor-delivered innovation. Cloud deployment has been growing in importance, and adoption will only increase as the pressure to serve remote workers intensifies.

While the road to cloud remains varied, the Forrester survey notes that respondents predict a steep decline in their use of on-premises content deployments over the next two years, in favour of cloud-based options. While laggards are reported to most likely depend primarily on on-premises deployments today, leaders are more likely to have already made the cloud transition.

Artificial intelligence: Last year, the same survey reported that a quarter of those surveyed listed AI among the top-five digital transformation areas content services can enable. However, in 2021, 34% placed it in the top five, as decision-makers are signalling a readiness to move from AI consideration to action.

About half are noted to have already adopted AI, at least in a limited fashion to enable content management strategies. Forrester highlights interest in using AI to address various content management use cases, including: data extraction (45%), auto-categorisation of documents (42%), obsolete document identification (41%) and auto-classification of sensitive content (39%), among others.

Collectively, these and other use cases can free workers from mundane tasks so they can focus on more important work. Not surprisingly, leaders have been able to extend AI use within their content processes further than their peers.

External vendors/partners: While, over the next two years, leaders have been found to be more likely to increase their current investment across several areas (including cloud and AI), the investment area with the greatest delta between followers and laggards is for external vendors/partners.

AI and intelligent content services can be fully equipped to do the heavy lifting – if permitted to do so.

As teams look to redefine and strengthen strategies in the wake of the pandemic, trusted and flexible partners are viewed as valuable tools in the drive to accelerate innovation. Leaders expect more innovation from the content services vendors they choose. They are also more likely to value differentiating platform features. Such differentiators include business process management, data extraction and capture, blockchain and robotic process automation.

Key findings that emanated from the research include:

Experience improvements are driving content management strategies. This is being borne out by the research indicating customer (CX) and employee (EX) experience improvements not only appear among the top objectives driving strategies, but are also the ones with the greatest lift in the last year. Decision-makers associate content services with powering several CX and EX benefits, including providing customers with more personalised experiences and employees with easier ways to use content as an insight source.

Confidence in the status quo is said to have fallen. The need to quickly adjust to a larger remote workforce and to serve customers in entirely new ways has exposed cracks within content-centric tools and processes. It is reported that a shrinking minority feel confident in their organisation’s ability to support critical content functions, including those related to sharing, searching for and collaborating on content with various stakeholders.

At the same time, fewer than half of respondents consider their digital transformation efforts to be very successful − representing a 10-point drop in confidence in the last year. Decision-makers now see a need to strengthen content management and digital capabilities that were perceived to be “good enough” before the pandemic.

Content services enable decision-makers to reclaim their confidence and future-proof operations. Those who embrace content services are better positioned to realise digital, CX and EX goals. Moreover, it has been observed that effective content services strategies can help insulate businesses from significant disruption and enable them to bounce back from disruptions more effectively.

However, these benefits are revealed to be available only to those who build their content services practice on four pillars: agile adaptivity, intelligent automation, tailored solutions and reimagined business models/processes.

Forrester’s in-depth global survey of content management decision-makers yielded several important recommendations, including:

  • Companies need to prepare if they are to meet and overcome the next stress test. Rapid shifts in remote and home office work have been non-negotiable for many organisations. 2021 must be the year of digital-first acceleration, filling the cracks that COVID and other disruptions exposed.
  • Firms must accelerate their move to cloud delivery models for content, where process-rich applications make it easier for employees and trusted external parties to access and engage with essential information. Modern cloud architectures ease secure access to content, are better suited to support mobile apps, and administrators can scale up or down as workloads change.
  • Planning is essential to support new work models, plus it is essential to understand how the organisation plans to operate as work styles and business models shift. We can all definitely expect to see more enterprises keeping a higher level of home-based or hybrid work models. Content is an essential input as well as output in many critical business activities − design the apps to equip employees regardless of their location or working hours.
  • Embracing digital-first customer engagement will be necessary. Content drives many customer-facing processes. Modern content platforms can support apps and use cases that include key external participants. It will be necessary to continue to digitise any processes with dependencies on paper or in-person interactions, as will collaborating with clients across the content lifecycle and secure sharing of essential documents.

In conclusion, AI and intelligent content services can be fully equipped to do the heavy lifting – if permitted to do so.

Automation of routine content-centric workloads has been the vision of the content management market for over 20 years. 2021 may turn out to be a breakout year for the adoption of AI and other intelligent content services to fast-track categorisation, identification of sensitive data, or data extraction.

Trainable models and easy-to-use interfaces will make adoption a reality for subject matter experts and information professionals, where previously this innovation was reserved for hard to find data scientists and developers.

Monique Williams

Southern Africa regional sales manager for Hyland Software.

Monique Williams is the South Africa Country Manager for Hyland Software, where she is responsible for sales on Hyland's Content Services platform.

She has in excess of 20 years' experience in the information technology sector and holds an Honours Degree in Marketing Management and a Bachelor of Social Science in General Psychology, Industrial and Organisational Psychology, from the University of Cape Town.

Williams has worked for Hyland Software for over a decade and in that time, has been partner manager for UK and Scandinavia, and business development manager in South Africa. Her duties in her current role include generating revenue for Hyland Software by establishing and leading the execution of a plan to market, as well as managing existing and newly recruited partners in Southern Africa. Since being appointed to this role, she has increased sales revenue and has achieved year-on-year growth of a minimum of 30%.

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