Gartner, the renowned research and advisory firm, has rebranded the term enterprise content management (ECM), and replaced it with content services. This represents a major shift in how organizations collaborate, get work done and manage their content.

But why the sudden change? And what does this shift mean for organizations still trying to achieve the goals associated with ECM?

Let’s take a closer look at what this change means and how it will impact the way your organization works.

What Are Content Services?

According to Gartner’s December 2016 report, Reinventing ECM: Introducing Content Services Platforms and Applications, content services are “a set of services and microservices, embodied either as an integrated product suite or as separate applications that share common APIs and repositories, to exploit diverse content types and to serve multiple constituencies and numerous use cases across an organization.”

We believe, in other words, that the focus of content services is to solve multiple business process challenges with multiple integrated solutions throughout the enterprise.

But what types of solutions are included within the content services methodology?

In the same report, Gartner breaks down content services into three categories:

  • Content services platforms
  • Content services applications
  • Content services components
This is a useful guide to understanding the three categories of content services. Source: Gartner, Reinventing ECM: Introducing Content Services Platforms and Applications, 05 December 2016

*Gartner, Reinventing ECM: Introducing Content Services Platforms and Applications, 05 December 2016

The above graphic, in our opinion, is a useful guide to understanding these three categories. It outlines the key characteristics of content services platforms, applications and components while illustrating how they can be integrated with one another using APIs and connectors.

For a comprehensive description of these three categories, read Gartner’s previously cited report, Reinventing ECM: Introducing Content Services Platforms and Applications.

What’s the Difference Between Content Services and ECM?

The core mission of ECM has been to achieve a wide range of operational goals using one centralized platform, and many organizations have seen success by using ECM as a centralized system.

However, content services is a new approach to improving operational efficiency, and it relies on multiple tools and strategies to get the job done. In Reinventing ECM: Introducing Content Services Platforms and Applications, Gartner discusses the differences between these two approaches:

“The transformation from ECM to content services denotes an important conceptual shift away from the “management” of content and too much focus on the repository as the solution. Redefining the market as content services recognizes that it is no longer strictly about the storage of content for the enterprise, but rather about the consideration of how content is used by individuals and teams — internally and externally — to create, collaborate, share, transform, and leverage that content in business processes and to gain insight. This transformation will be a multiyear evolution in many organizations, and reflects a change in requirements from buyers, affecting several markets.”

The content services approach, we believe, looks beyond the consideration of where content is being stored and focuses on other important questions, such as:

  • Who is storing and processing the content?
  • How can a unified content strategy can help those individuals work more efficiently?
  • What additional technologies can be integrated with the centralized storage platform in order to achieve business goals?

Answering these questions allows organizations to take a more comprehensive, strategic approach to improving their operations. It helps them leverage multiple resources at their disposal to improve collaboration, increase productivity and work smarter.

 

Get your complimentary copy of the October 2017 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Content Services Platforms

 

How Can Organizations Benefit from Content Services?

One way organizations like yours can put content services into action is by integrating multiple technology solutions across the enterprise. Combining the information and functionality from different systems will allow you to save time and money while producing lasting operational benefits.

Integrating content services platforms (such as an ECM system), applications and components is key to the content services methodology.

Integrating content services platforms, applications and components is key to the content services methodology.

Here are three examples of how software integrations can increase efficiency in multiple industries:

  • Contract management: Easily extract contact information from a CRM system using workflow automation software, populate the information into a contract, and gather client signatures using a digital signature tool.
  • Human resources (HR) management: Quickly access all employee information from a single interface by integrating an ECM system with HR automation software.
  • Accounting and finance: Easily generate invoices by using process automation software to pull information from emails, PDFs or paper documents and route it to an accounting application.
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Combining different content services platforms, applications and components allows organizations to take advantage of what each technology solution does best.

For example, while an ECM system (i.e. content services platform) specializes in archiving, protecting and routing information, a student information system (i.e. content services application) specializes in managing and processing student data.

Same Goals, Different Approach

Ultimately, ECM and content services seek to achieve the same goals, but they each take a different approach in doing so.

While content services uses a combination of strategy and integrated technology to achieve these goals, ECM aims to achieve them with a single system.

Whether your organization uses the content services approach to improve operations or swears by a philosophy of centralization, it can gain valuable perspective by taking each of these methodologies into account.

 

Want to learn more about content services and how it’s shaping the future of the digital workplace?

Get your complimentary copy of the October 2017 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Content Services Platforms

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