As IT professionals know, the pace of digital transformation has accelerated rapidly as a result of the pandemic. This rapid shift to remote environments reshaped digital transformation priorities and challenges.
Remote and hybrid work models have proven successful and delivered many benefits—such as enabling companies to expand its talent pools—which is why The Washington Post is describing the transition to permanent hybrid models as even more disruptive than the initial move to all-remote work.
With so many employees permanently remote or hybrid, one of the new challenges IT teams must overcome is the increasing content sprawl companies are facing because of it. Especially as governments continue to expand privacy regulations, it is more difficult than ever to manage digital content safely and efficiently.
Understanding Content Sprawl
Before addressing the issue of content sprawl, teams must understand its significance and the challenges it can bring. Content sprawl occurs when users create, duplicate, alter and use unmanaged content to support their day-to-day tasks. With employees working from so many dispersed locations, they often access content by downloading and storing it on devices that may not be secure.
They are also working in collaborative tools and likely sharing documents through several applications, including email. With this increase in digital content assets, it is even more challenging for end users to quickly find what they need to accomplish their work.
This negatively impacts productivity and increases compliance risks–dispersed workforces need information available and accessible to relevant stakeholders across many access points without risking security.
With content spread across email, collaborative tools such as Google Workspace, shared drives, Microsoft products, VPNs and more, companies must update its content management and governance strategies to ensure employees have access to what they need, when they need it without having to worry about non-compliance.
Here are four tips to consider in creating and executing a content management strategy:
1. Consider the Employee Experience
When addressing content sprawl in the context of a digital transformation strategy, organizations should first consider how to improve the employee experience. This begins with helping employees do their jobs, access services and accomplish tasks more efficiently–all while mitigating risks that can come from information being misused.
A people-first content management strategy requires solutions with integrated user interfaces for locating and managing the information employees need. Tools should be easily searchable and provide a modernized, central point of operations for accessing content.
This means that wherever an employee is working from, they can securely and quickly access the information they need to do their job. As workflows are streamlined, organizations will see increased productivity and improved user satisfaction without the manual processes of managing content.
2. Find Tasks to Automate
IT leaders know the benefits automation can bring, but with so many processes involving high volumes of content, it is difficult to determine which tasks to automate. One place to begin is with any activity that has historically relied on paper documents, something that has become increasingly difficult to manage in the era of remote work.
Vendor invoice processing and financial reporting are perfect examples. A robust content management strategy (and the right tools to execute it) simplifies these activities by automatically capturing and systematically processing these documents, so that invoicing can be an effortless process.
Business processes that involve content being exchanged through email, such as external approvals and process exceptions, are also prime opportunities for automation efforts. By automating these processes, documents are secure and easily accessible for anyone who needs visibility into that operation. With those tasks automated, employees can reallocate their time to more valuable work, increasing productivity.
3. Migrate to the Cloud Securely
Work-from-home infrastructure has necessitated new content storage strategies, including increased cloud migration. Worldwide spending on public cloud will reach $332.3 billion by the end of 2021, according to Gartner, as organizations increase its use of software-as-a-service (SaaS) and other cloud applications.
While the cloud enables flexibility to make content accessible, it also further complicates content sprawl challenges. Employees may download and alter content on different devices, introducing security risks and resulting in multiple versions of a document.
For organizations to securely integrate cloud solutions, they must understand the breadth and depth of their data landscape. IT leaders need to know how data is exchanged and altered on both cloud and on-premises storage to understand how cloud migration will impact applications and systems.
To address this, automated change analysis tools can track how data is generated, stored and altered across the enterprise.
4. Prioritize Information Governance
Organizations looking to reduce content sprawl should invest in content management solutions that automate information governance processes to securely manage the content lifecycle and govern who can access, view and modify information. Users must be able to access the content they need without violating corporate governance and government regulations.
To enable this, organizations need a comprehensive and scalable architecture that streamlines processing and response time while ensuring compliance.
From China to the EU, there is increasing regulatory emphasis on protecting personal information, and current information governance processes are failing to meet these standards. While most organizations are attempting to identify, encrypt and monitor access to their content, they likely don’t have complete confidence in these processes.
Effective information governance should ensure that information is classified and managed properly to adhere to internal policies and external regulatory requirements, especially as many users are handling this highly regulated personal information.
Digital Transformation Requires Content Management
As we have seen throughout the pandemic, effective remote work can bring enormous benefits to an organization. To fully leverage these benefits, organizations need robust content management strategy to overcome content sprawl challenges and ensure users have what they need to do their best work, wherever they may be.
By implementing these tips, organizations can increase agility and their ability to comply with evolving regulations so that whatever their future of work looks like, they will be prepared to manage their content assets effectively.