Let’s face it: We’ve always struggled to find consensus on how we define even the simplest of terms. It’s a symptom of the siloed structure that most organizations operate under. For example, I once held a focus group on the fundamentals of a document strategy, and the discussion soon devolved into a debate on the actual meaning of the term “document.” However, as we increasingly focus on the digital business, marked by significant shifts in the technology marketplace, I think we’re seeing one universal theme beginning to emerge.

No matter where you sit in the organization, what industry you’re a part of, or which line of business you run, we all rely on content to make the business run. The sheer variety of content and the many forms it comes in makes it increasingly complex to manage. In fact, many would argue that business content is about more than simply managing it. With this perspective, we’re witnessing the once-separate worlds of business content and customer content come together.

"No matter where you sit in the organization, what industry you’re a part of, or which line of business you run, we all rely on content to make the business run."

This holistic vision of content is not without speedbumps though, as we saw last year with the arrival of content services, seemingly supplanting enterprise content management (ECM). In addition, the landscape of customer communications management (CCM) market is becoming less and less clear, as it continues to overlap with web content management, digital customer experience, and content services.

In a broad sense, we’re all moving toward a “service-oriented approach,” leveraging microservices and API-based architectures and low-code/no-code programming to quickly deliver content applications to business users where they need them. In essence, this is about opening our content, so it can actually be used to achieve a business objective, thus, creating value. A prime example of this is embedding a centralized customer communication editing experience into other systems used by business users, as discussed in our upcoming cover story by Kaspar Roos in our Spring 2018 issue.

Whether you like it or not, this is the age of the business user, and we must provide tools that simultaneously control content and offer flexibility in the access and creation of it. Not surprisingly, Gartner reports that organizations are focusing on two emerging subsets of technology to extend the basic capabilities of content services:
  • Content Services Applications: People-centric access points to make use of content within a business context, such as CCM or case management.
  • Content Services Components: Utility services that enhance and expand platform capability and are embedded within applications, such as capture services, content automation, and information governance.
We’re in the midst of somewhat of a revolution in how we think about content, its ultimate use, and the business value it really holds. In the consumer choice economy, enterprise leaders are beginning to understand that they are no longer held hostage by technology. Rather, their business needs will continue to drive their content-centric choices.

I look forward to exploring this convergence at our annual event, DSF ’18, May 21-23, in Boston! If you can't make it out East, leave a comment below on where you think content management fits into the digital business future.

Allison Lloyd serves as the Editor of DOCUMENT Strategy Media. She delivers thought leadership on strategic and plan-based solutions for managing the entire document, communication, and information process. Follow her on Twitter @AllisonYLloyd.