Like a new tree in the forest, every business has the capacity for growth – the trick is to find a break in the canopy. One of the ways to set your business up for a successful surge of growth is to create an information management strategy that makes it easier for people to sort through the forest of documents and find the content they need.
Right now you might be thinking how easy it is to convey information to your key five people and keep everyone aligned with the business. But this kind of harmony doesn’t last forever. If you’ve been in the business as long as I have, you remember the days when we hosted websites off of an old laptop in the corner of our office. Believe it or not, this is what is happening now with documents. Your salient content is kept isolated from the rest of the company and sometimes information is being updated to some random shared location – but no one can find it. Oh, and did I mention there’s a duplicate somewhere else and your new employee is using it to Tweet about your new product?
Are you moderately alarmed yet?
This is where the cloud comes in.
For those who like official definitions, Gartner came up with a good one: “The cloud is a style of computing in which scalable and elastic IT-related capabilities are provided “as a service” to customers using Internet technologies.”
Gartner crammed all the important key words in there: scalable, elastic, service, Internet and IT. It makes it a good definition, but often we’re asked: what does that mean? What the cloud really refers to is the data in your server room down the hall (or maybe that laptop under your desk) has simply changed location. You choose which data moves to a secure facility and will be managed by IT experts. The whole premise behind the cloud is to provide permission-based access to content, freeing up people to access content anywhere, on any device – which is especially appealing to those of us who into gadgets and like to take advantage of email and presentations on the go.
Is the cloud is a good match for Portals, Content and Collaboration?
Yes, the cloud is well suited for portals, collaboration and collaboration (aka: document management technologies). First and foremost any content distribution technology has capabilities that need to be widely deployed. For example email is not reserved for just a select few in the organization, it needs to be widely distributed to be useful. The same thing happens with other types of content and it is important that all employees use the same technologies to access the content, so it’s easily discovered, managed and updated by everyone.
Gartner is also recognizing an underlying trend of requests to share content with people outside the firewall. This means there is a need for an easy way to share workflows and content with partners, vendors, contractors, remote staff and all the other unique structural combinations that make up your organization today.
Overall, your outlook is good if you choose to go with a cloud solution for managing information across your company.
A Simple Matrix
|Get The Cloud If You…||Don’t Get The Cloud If You…|
|Need to widely deploy services (i.e. email)||Don’t trust the 3rd party provider|
|Need to share content outside the firewall||Need to accommodate many complex customizations & applications with no intention of updating them.|
|Want to give people access to your content|
|Need flexibility and on demand capabilities|
|Need to clearly communicate value to non-technical business users*|
|Want to reduce costs|
*It’s much easier to ask for an email account than to request a series of server room hardware and software upgrades from your non-technical counterparts.
Creating An Information Management Program.
Step 1: Take a content inventory.
Knowing what content you have is the first step towards creating an information management strategy. This will inform storage needs as well as create a good conversation for the next step.
Step 2: Evaluate your employee needs.
Are you employees accessing information remotely? Does content go through an approval process? Do multiple people contribute to a document?
Step 3: Decide how people will access the content.
Understand how people will access content will establish a baseline for what you’re looking for. Do you simply need some kind of file dumping ground – or do you want to add keywords, create team sites for group sharing and have it integrated with other systems?
Step 4: Create a content map.
This defines the proper places for content, which will turn the conversation towards permissions, privacy and the resulting delivery methods.
Step 5: Choose your technology.
Once you’ve established what you have, who needs it, how they its accessed and the content segments, you’re ready to decide what technology works best for you.
Our clients typically choose Office 365 for managing all kinds of content – but there are other alternatives. Office 365 just gave our clients what they needed most: a secure email, web conferencing and a content management system that works together.
Call Aaron Nettles at (206) 781-1797 if you want to have a conversation about the cloud or join us at one of our cloud meetups.
Alan Weintraub, S. P. (2011, 09 15). Content Mapping: The Secret To ECM Technology Selection Success. Retrieved 09 16, 2011, from Forrester.
Mann, J. (2011, 09 14). Cloud Strategies for Portals, Content, & Collaboration Projects. Retrieved 09 16, 2011, from Gartner.
Rob Karel, J. G. (2009, 08 11). Refresh Your Information Management Strategy To Deliver Business Results. Retrieved 09 16, 2011, from Forrester.