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From Content Management to Content Services: Best Practices

While many nonprofit organizations and government agencies use traditional enterprise content management (ECM) to manage and leverage content, this approach is limited by a centralized platform and does not address the need for agility and integration in a fast-changing digital landscape. This is where content services, a relatively-new concept in the world of content management, comes into play.  In January 1996, Microsoft founder Bill Gates penned an essay titled “Content is King” which was the seminal quote of the early 2000s and still resonates today. Today there is an exponential amount of content being produced, as well as an increased need for organizations to create and distribute relevant content to support and drive organizational objectives. This has led to new and innovative methods and approaches to content management for organizations to educate their users and build confidence and trust by using content to position themselves as industry leaders and subject matter experts. In today’s intensely competitive landscape, an organization without an established and solid strategy and approach to managing content will have a difficult time keeping pace in the digital race. And as content is produced and distributed on multiple and different platforms, the traditional ECM model, which relies on a single platform to manage all content, may no longer be the most effective means to engage online users. Content services, a term developed by Gartner in 2016, represents a shift from self-contained systems and repositories to open services. As described in their 2017 report What You Need to Know About Content Services Platforms: “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.” A content service platform (CSP) leverages new technologies to effectively and efficiently access, share, prioritize, and preserve content to drive higher engagement, collaboration, and satisfaction and grow new and existing opportunities to achieve organizational goals. And usage is its main attraction of a CSP, as opposed to ECM is which storage; a CSP is able to leverage content across multiple repositories to connect dissimilar applications within an organization’s digital ecosystem, as opposed to ECM, which operates within a single platform. In the commercial sector, larger companies such as Walmart and Amazon have moved to content services platforms. For example, Walmart uses CSP for content management, as well as for analytics and content distribution and delivery.

Best Practices

As with any approach, system, or method, there are lessons learned and best practices to follow for the benefit and increased performance of a business or organization. Despite being a relatively new concept within the content arena, content services are no different. Deploying and maintaining content service best practices is key to maximizing the benefits of its approach to content creation and distribution.
  • Understand your content in terms of diversity and variety. This helps when performing content gap analysis or content audits. Not all content is the same, and therefore should not be treated as such. While the intrinsic value of content is to leverage and enhance revenue and profits, not all content has this particular type of characteristic.
  • Develop and implement a strong content management plan. Such a plan should include content governance structures for the content lifecycle. Creating a centralized and standard approach to publish and distribute content will remove multiple content silos by consolidating and removing duplicate or outdated content. A strong content management plan will also help facilitate version control and archive abilities which could benefit organizations by the retrieval of lost or deleted content.
  • Take a holistic and comprehensive view of your technology and organizational requirements and goals. Bring the IT team into the initial planning discussions to determine what is logistically feasible. Also, think about your content marketing strategy and how to better understand and engage your users to create a robust content management ecosystem.
  • Optimize workflow through content standards and automated processes. Assist with adoption and reduce the burden of managing content. Content governance processes should be streamlined and embedded to ensure that enterprise content services are integral to the organization’s functional business units. Similarly, content technology solutions should align with the strategic and process requirements of the organization.
  • Establish explicit policies so that everyone in the organization has a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. Enlist advocates or champions to advance the conversation about best practices for managing content.
Through content services, organizations benefit from enhanced content discoverability and retrieval, as well as the ability to better align organizational strategy and goals by repurposing content for new projects and initiatives. With content services, organizations have the ability to implement a focused strategic approach of time and resources for solving organizational challenges that move towards how content is used and leveraged by people.

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