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Get to know key features of content services platforms

A content services platform is more than a database -- it is an intelligent information engine. Organizations should be familiar with all the features of the CSP.

Successfully launching a business's first application on its content services platform is a rewarding experience. If an organization has continued success with launching applications, they know that their strategies and platforms are the reasons why.

But to be successful, businesses must ensure that teams consuming a CSP's services understand that it is an intelligent information engine and not simply a repository. New application owners often view it as a content database -- or a file share accessible through APIs -- that they hope to use without worrying about building a whole subset of their requirements.

Businesses need to make sure they understand what a well-designed CSP can deliver to their applications and users.

Features of an intelligent CSP

Storing content in a CSP can be as simple as implementing APIs for basic create, read, update and delete operations. However, businesses need to create a simple content model before adding any advanced features. A simple content model starts by creating business entities such as client and case, associating documents -- such as budgets and invoices -- to each entity and linking some of them together. When organizations enable advanced search features, the CSP becomes more business-friendly.

Here are some key features of a CSP:

Collaboration. Users can share, edit and work on documents in a cloud-based environment.

File sharing. A CSP provides businesses with file-sharing capabilities through the cloud for employees working remotely. CSPs also enable users to share or access files on their mobile devices.

Features of a content services platform

Document management. Businesses rely on CSPs to store, access and manage documents and other types of content. While enterprise content management (ECM) limits users to accessing documents in one repository, the CSP extends these capabilities and gives users access to documents in the cloud.

API-driven capabilities. The ability to link content between different processes is another key benefit of a CSP. Often, one of the requirements for a new application to employ a CSP is the ability to add content from another system. The CSP relies on APIs to connect services from various platforms. For example, if two applications use one document, it is stored once in the same CSP. This creates greater transparency, improves information accuracy and lessens the effect on both users and the IT infrastructure.

Advanced enterprise search. A CSP can access content of all types across a business. Employees can tag content by its metadata and make enterprise search easier.

Content capture and transformation services. A key feature of an intelligent CSP is transformation services, such as converting images or Microsoft Word documents into PDFs. Businesses can create PDF, thumbnail or other types of content to facilitate viewing content in web applications. Optical character recognition makes scanned images searchable. Making this behavior the default enables users to easily find and consume content.

Records management. Another feature of a CSP that application teams often overlook is records management. Applications built on CSPs often support defined business processes, which means that the systems understand the business context of the content without direct user input. By storing that contextual information within the CSP, not only can others find content more easily, but businesses can properly manage and retain it as an organizational record. Records policies should be transparent to the CSP users, enabling the organization to be compliant with necessary rules and regulations without forcing the individual to act or change behavior. The automated policies should enable the organization to meet requirements without slowing the deployment of new applications.

Why educating users on CSP features is important

If a business unit is building a new application for the organization, it wants a secure and reliable way to save and retrieve content. A mature CSP offers features that are for future versions of the applications, not the minimally viable product implementation.

Application owners see the basic features when existing applications use the CSP in a demo, which shows users quickly storing, retrieving and using content. It is important, however, that the application owners and the CSP team explain what the CSP does behind the scenes. Businesses must highlight the features that benefit the business, and not just the connected applications, from the very beginning. Emphasizing the importance of records management, transformation services and other features is critical.

It is important for application owners to know how just a few hours of extra work can deliver years of benefits.

Adding advanced features typically requires businesses to expand the baseline content model with corresponding updates to the APIs, which enables applications to take advantage of the new capabilities. Some features require the CSP to store more metadata, which enables it to act on automated rules. For example, users can automatically send invoices to the project manager and finance department based on the client number. If the CSP knows when the user paid the invoice, it can implement a rule to keep all invoices for seven years past the payment date. The business would add a field to the baseline content model to store that date and a document type to tag the document as an invoice. It could be as simple as adding a close date for a case or storing the business document type, such as "invoice" or "resume." However, application owners may push back on these simple additions and question why they are necessary because they do not know the importance of the CSP.

It is important for application owners to know how just a few hours of extra work can deliver years of benefits. More importantly, they must know how the launch of the new application can save the organization time and money.

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