Next steps for cloud-based content

Editorial Type: Opinion Date: 2020-12-01 Views: 536 Tags: Document, Cloud, ECM, Compliance, Strategy, BPM, Hyland PDF Version:
Tim Hood, Associate Vice President for Hyland in EMEA, argues that moving business processes and content to the Cloud is 'the only sustainable strategy' for organisations striving for zero downtime and data loss

Events this year have reinforced what we pretty much already knew - that being able to access your data is key to business continuity, or even to business survival. Organisations still working with on-premise systems suddenly found themselves struggling to access information remotely, either because it was in some unreachable, local server-based app or locked away in an inaccessible physical filing cabinet.

So, having been forced to embrace home-working, even traditional business sectors and organisations are now rethinking their core model, by turning to the cloud and aligning bricks and mortar offices with remote working teams.

The benefits of cloud working are well known of course - reduced costs, improved ROI, efficiency gains, minimal maintenance and universal access - but moving there still requires strategic thinking about which processes to move, as well as what technology will underpin the migration and its subsequent development.

And for those organisations that have already migrated to the cloud, it's time to think "what next?" For most, it will mean shifting their focus onto a fundamental asset of most organisations - content - and how to use it better, because today simply storing and managing it is no longer enough.

It's a truism, of course, that to add real business value, the right content must be in the right hands at the right time, in order to improve productivity, facilitate decision making or add to the customer experience. And ensuring this happens is where content management services come in.

It may seem like a relatively new concept, but content management is essentially the aggregation and integration of content from multiple sources, something that is much more easily done in the cloud than on-premises.

By adopting a cloud-based content services system, organisations have the means to ensure content is able to flow and be shared seamlessly between applications - without replication, duplication or omission of data. And that's just not possible with on-premises legacy enterprise content management (ECM) systems, which can't keep pace with fast-changing technology or governance standards.

How many times have you contacted an organisation with a query or a problem, only to be told "I'm sorry, I don't have access to that information, you need to speak to that department". So you speak to someone else and have to go through everything all over again, sometimes multiple times. It's frustrating for the customer and a missed opportunity for the business.

On the other hand, a cloud-based ECM ensures that data is released and distributed across multiple business units or departments, rather than remaining the sole property of a single repository such as a CRM, ERP, accounts payable or case management application.

Now, rather than adding more and more solutions to an already disparate and clunky portfolio of technologies, there can be a single organisation-wide platform instead.

This gives authorised users across the organisation access to every document, image and piece of data analytics or user-generated content they need to do their job better, whether that involves customer service, client retention, developing industry expertise, or addressing new competitive threats.

Even better, if the platform allows the modification and updating of workflows and processes without the need for coding or scripting, then it starts to be seen as a day-to-day work tool rather than a niche piece of software that can't be adapted. Users then become empowered to independently create better systems as and when they need without having to call and wait for an IT team to make the changes.

The benefits of a cloud-based ECM can be further enhanced by complementing it with tools such as robotic process automation (RPA), which can streamline the way data is fed into workflows by taking on time-consuming, rule-based, repetitive tasks like copying and pasting data between apps, which are often central to information collection and data pre-processing.

Hyland's own enterprise information platform, OnBase, which is hosted on the Hyland Cloud, now includes RPA, to give an end-to-end solution that's of particular benefit to organisations that need clear audit trails and chains of custody for every data action.

Of course, there will always be some degree of apprehension about the potential disruption and cost of introducing any new technology. For instance, there may be concerns about how new cloud applications will integrate with legacy systems containing large volumes of often complex, unstructured data.

Moving to the cloud means that the burden of responsibility shifts from the organisation to outside service providers. With an ever-growing number of providers and a new generation of cloud content apps entering the marketplace, it is ever more important to select a provider with the knowledge, understanding and experience to create innovative, robust, seamless solutions. Vendor viability and levels of service are now as important, if not more so, than features and functions.

There is a high degree of assurance in committing business processes to the cloud, with most organisations recognising that, should there be some localised disruption or environmental event, it is better to have their data located in a remote, secure, facility and not in an on-premise server.

But organisations still need to know that best practice is being applied to mitigate risk, and that advanced and proven security measures are in place with the capacity to detect intrusion, analyse threats and predict potential vulnerability points.

Since achieving total security is one of key concerns when moving to the cloud, companies will want to know that vendors are carrying out third-party assured annual service organisation control (SOC) audits, as well as regular internal reviews, along with ongoing penetration and vulnerability testing. Those who operate in sectors such as financial, legal or healthcare, where strong regulatory frameworks apply, may want the added reassurance of dedicated governance, risk and compliance support and services.

Above all, organisations will want to know that the cloud-based system they adopt will be able to tackle whatever the world throws at them. Hyper-agility and hyper-scalability will define the winners and losers in the new digital world, so they must be sure that system architectures are sufficiently robust and elastic to meet the fast-changing demands of the enterprise environment and manage the deluge of data that's pouring in ever-faster from every direction.

Given the complexity of the landscape, organisations need help to navigate their way through a marketplace that's constantly evolving. The picture is likely to become more complex still, as innovative technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain and big data analytics add further disruption.

This creates opportunities for value added resellers (VARs) who are able to offer a strategic understanding of new and emerging cloud-based solutions and how they can be capitalised upon.

With organisations striving for zero downtime and data loss, running core business applications internally is no longer a sustainable strategy when the operating environment is unpredictable and fast-changing. As a result, more and more organisations are moving their business processes away from on-premises servers to accommodate the changing way people need to interact with business information.

The rapid and unexpected acceleration of remote working this year has brought new urgency to the need to ensure cloud delivery of content. While moving to the cloud can improve individual processes, more and more organisations are seeing it as fundamental in achieving the much wider digital transformation that will be essential for future success.

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"The CIO needs to shift his/her priorities to be about how they get the right data in the right place at the right time. The danger is that an organisation buys technology, when what it actually needs is a strong information architecture. Where is information important? Who uses it? Why do they use it?"