Controlling Information Silos With Content Federation

Today’s businesses are built on information. Success in managing that information, however, can vary wildly from organization to organization – even from department to department. Regardless of the approach to information management, business leaders almost universally agree on one of the most persistent and costly information management challenges they face: connecting currently disconnected content silos.

Modern enterprises require solutions that can discover, manage, and unify their content. This acute need has driven the push towards content federation, which refers to the ability to connect information systems and repositories with the objective of creating a more unified and harmonized approach to information management.

While content federation tools and solutions are becoming more pervasive in the IT landscape, content silos live on in many enterprises. How can organizations finally break down their content silos and gain more value from their existing data and content assets?

Create a single access point for users

At its core, content federation is about providing end users a single location to access all the content within an organization. This is not to be confused with “federated search” – which is about running a single search across multiple repositories. The key difference is that content federation can read content or metadata in another repository while also being to update metadata in the original source repository.

Content federation means various applications and repositories are automatically connected or interoperable, allowing access to content stored in several isolated repositories across an organization. This is ultimately what serves as the fix to the decades-old problem of bridging content silos.

In the past, organizations have sought to build this bridge by implementing enterprise content management (ECM) systems. These solutions touted the ability to keep all content in one repository. But the reality is that most enterprises have a sprawling network of content repositories, which sometimes can include different legacy ECM systems deployed in various departments within the same organization.

The true fatal flaw in the traditional ECM approach was its failure to recognize that it was nearly impossible to keep all of an organization’s information within a single repository. No matter how hard IT and business leaders tried, they couldn’t stop different departments from using their own applications and solutions.

This information management need set the stage for the emergence of the Content Services Platform (CSP). The CSP approach differs from ECM in that it recognizes that content will not exist in a single repository. Instead, a CSP understands that all this content must work together.

The next phase: Federated workflows

Since business content is usually associated with business processes, it’s no surprise that federated content is driving the proliferation of federated workflows across the enterprise. In many enterprises, CSPs serve as an engine for enabling truly automated workflows that are initiated and managed across multiple systems and repositories.

The idea isn’t just to automate workflows, but inject a greater level of intelligence and context to vital business processes.

Imagine a help desk, where someone’s literally got a list of 150 emails that they must respond to in a day. Where do they start? How do they prioritize those lists? One way is to apply sentiment analysis to this process as a way to automatically prioritize which emails to respond to first  (i.e., the really annoyed customers first). It’s just as simple as that, but it can make a huge difference in efficiency, service, and customer satisfaction.

The dawn of change

If you think about it, content drive better business insight, which in turn provides a very distinct advantage in the marketplace. It drives the way that humans communicate, which at the end of the day, has a direct influence on customer experience. And of course, it can drive improvements in process, through automation, which can free up people from mundane and repetitive tasks in order to perform activities that provide more value.

But if a business has its valuable operations data spread across multiple content management systems, it cannot take advantage of this opportunity. A modern CSP with true content federation capabilities helps to unify and harmonize this content across the enterprise, which also creates new opportunities to automate and streamline key organizational process workflows.

Digital transformation is already here. But in terms of digital game changers, very few come close to the power, flexibility and importance of content federation.

David Jones is an information management professional with more than 20 years’ experience in the emerging technologies space across multiple industries including big data, analytics, cloud and enterprise content management. As VP of Marketing at AODocs, David is responsible for developing the global go-to-market strategy and execution plan for AODocs modern, intelligent Content Services Platform.