First in a series

contentOne of the biggest information management challenges businesses face is how to break the boundaries of siloed content and bridge their various repositories. At many organizations, content is stored in disparate repositories, shared drives, mobile devices and removable storage media. In short, their content is in a state of chaos. For them, finding content is a daunting challenge in which users must know exactly where the content is stored and how it was tagged in order to have a chance at all of locating it.

AIIM Research finds that most organizations have disparate content stores and only basic search capabilities with 81% of organizations indicating they have limited ability to search across multiple content repositories.

Content needs to be captured and have appropriate metadata applied for management, control, and findability. Many organizations are looking to bring disparate content together through connectivity, consolidation, and migration either as a whole project or on a day-forward basis. Conceptually, this is not difficult, but realistically, it can be complex. There are specific sets of rules by which the organization must function. Certain types of information must be kept secure and made available to only those who have the right to access it, all through a single interface.

In order to break the siloed content boundaries, a content inventory should be conducted. Content must be identified and validated, locations and usage mapped, and ownership documented with accountability assigned. As the content inventory progresses, redundant, outdated, and trivial (ROT) content should be removed, leaving only that content that is of value. The model of reference is to minimize the amount of duplicate content stored across the enterprise, using pointers to share singular documents managed using version control. This does not necessarily mean total migration to a singular repository, as this is not always the best approach.

Enter On-Premise Cloud

The key is to assess what you have now compared to your requirements and choose the right approach that best meets your needs. In some cases, the preferred option might be managing content in place across the enterprise or even a combination that includes migration and manage-in-place. When migrating content, users can be asked to move their content on an as-needed basis, or department heads working with users can move a range of content to the on-premise cloud application with a day-forward approach to follow. Some organizations may want to migrate the entire collection of repositories to the on-premise cloud application, using an FTP site with import capabilities or working with the supplier to leverage migration best practices. Some suppliers may also have ways to automate the migration process, reducing the human dependency on validation activities for quality assurance.

On-premise cloud allows organizations to manage content in place across the enterprise through extensive indexing and search capabilities, including content stored in other enterprise apps such as ERP and CRM. At the same time, content can be migrated to the on-premise cloud application either in a full project move, or day-forward implementation that as content is accessed, it is moved to the on-premise cloud application and removed from the legacy repository.

Serving as a platform and using web-services tools, on-premise cloud allows you to integrate with your content and records management solutions to classify, store, manage, and dispose of physical and digital corporate records based on records management policies and retention guidelines.

Content Consolidation and Migration

In an ideal world, organizations would have a single ECM repository. This concept is a reasonable goal, but can be unrealistic, especially for multinational organizations required to maintain specific types of content locally. It is feasible however, to manage content in place and to consolidate and migrate content that can be shared among various users to an on-premise cloud application that is secure behind the corporate firewall.

Migration should be carefully planned, as there may be changes to metadata that could place an organization at risk. For example, the creation and stored dates could end up changed to reflect the import to the on-premise cloud application. These are likely to be vital in maintaining compliance, so measures must be taken to ensure these dates are not inadvertently altered.

Breaking the boundaries of content silos should be a goal in every organization. Consolidation of repositories, disposal of ROT, and migration and management of content in place using on-premise cloud as a platform reduces costs, improves accessibility, and increases findability.

Bob Larrivee is Director of Custom Research at AIIM. Andrea Chiappe is Director of Innovation and Strategy at Systemware.