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Consider content first in a digital transformation

Organizations should think about content and where it will live at the beginning of any digital transformation to avoid headaches and extra work down the road.

Digital transformation is about improving UX for every person interacting with the process, and one of the keys to success is ensuring the smooth flow of information from one person to another. However, many organizations do not think about how they will store or manage that information when they begin.

When starting any digital transformation, it's necessary to consider content early in the process.

Many businesses assume they can just use their default go-to database when they need a new place to store data. It isn't uncommon to see new MySQL or MongoDB databases appearing in AWS to support the new efforts. Databases are easy to add when businesses use the cloud, but adding the right content management system (CMS) is a bit more difficult.

Digital transformation leads may dismiss the need to examine content, assuming they can simply use an Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) bucket or throw content into an existing CMS that an organization deployed years ago. Some will even say that all information is just data for the database and that there is no more content.

This is dangerous. The need to capture content -- not just data -- and make it available throughout an organization is something that is costly to ignore.

So, we have this content in SharePoint…

That was the start of a conversation I had a few months ago. An organization was starting its digital transformation efforts and realized after a month of effort that content drove large portions of its customer interactions. As the team delved deeper, it quickly became apparent that content was not only a key part of what they did, but it was isolated in SharePoint.

And the company didn't budget time or money for any content work.

The managers in charge assumed that all information -- content and data -- could live where it lives now. The exception was the new customer-centric interface that would use a new database for auditing. Passing data around is relatively cheap and easy to cache between system interactions when necessary. Content, however, is not.

Businesses should consider all information from the beginning and budget time and resources to perform the upfront analysis.

Content can be large. Individually, a piece of content may not be that big. However, when you start looking at thousands of transactions a minute, that is a lot of bandwidth and storage, and that content can consume a lot of resources. The additional time necessary to search for -- and retrieve -- that content can quickly add up if the underlying system is not properly designed and architected.

Consider content in digital transformations from day one

Businesses should consider all information from the beginning and budget time and resources to perform the upfront analysis. Moreover, it's necessary to understand which critical information is content, which is data and which is a blend. Take the time to map out where all the information lives, what form it takes and where people need access to it. Some of those necessary systems and pathways may not exist yet, and creating those is part of the digital transformation process.

Once content components are identified, evaluate potential solutions. Look at the current content management system and see if it may work as a content services platform (CSP) in your digital transformation. It may be able to handle the proposed workload when systems and people access it for information.

If the existing CMS doesn't meet the needs for a CSP, it's necessary to identify this early, as a later discovery may create delays. Ideally, the CSP will be one the business can use for prototypes prior to making a large investment.

Acquiring a new CSP doesn't have to set an organization's budget back. A new platform only needs to address new requirements on day one. Don't try to replace every CMS function that is in-house currently. Just focus on filling the gap needed to support digital transformation efforts.

Businesses that choose a CSP wisely will find that it handles many long-term information governance requirements automatically, eliminating extra work down the road.

Dig Deeper on Enterprise information management (EIM) strategy and best practices

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