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The evolution from document management software to content services

Different categories of software offer different capabilities, from basic storage systems to sophisticated cloud applications to ECM platforms that try to manage all information within a business.

Enterprise file synchronization and sharing (EFSS)

EFSS is the most basic and affordable type of system. It lets you synchronize, store and share documents, images and other content across devices with a focus on information accessibility. Some solutions enable collaboration and version control on documents.

The simplicity of EFSS comes with limitations. Most importantly, EFSS gives you limited — if any — control over digital workflows. Its primary function is to keep documents findable, not necessarily deploy them to support business processes.

EFSS can be on-premises and cloud-based, allowing you to save and share files locally, in a private cloud, or in a public cloud. Typical examples of cloud-based EFSS solutions include Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and Box.

Enterprise content management (ECM)

If document management software specializes in capturing, storing and automating document flow within business processes, ECM describes software that extends beyond that: document management, workflow automation, retention management, web content management, social content management and other enterprise capabilities fall in this bucket.

These systems are part of the procedures and processes within an organization. Typically, ECM is deployed within large enterprises, as licenses and configuration are complicated, costly and time-consuming to deploy. They are further managed within a company’s dedicated IT department. Thus, ECM is not a good fit for small and mid-size businesses that need basic document management.

Modern content services

Gartner defines content services as follows:

“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."

Simply put, content services consist of an ecosystem of smaller purpose-built systems or applications. Content service platforms have their own repository and can also easily connect with other applications through an API.

Modern content services are an ideal middle-ground between the two previous tiers: They’re affordable while providing customized solutions to help you improve specific processes. An example would be DocuWare preconfigured cloud solutions for employee engagement and invoice processing.

Extra benefits of content services include the ability to meet changing compliance while remaining scalable. But, explaining content services wouldn’t be complete without understanding the evolution of ECM — this evolution led to what we now call “content services.”

The evolution of ECM to content services

ECM systems evolved from complex, one-size fits all systems into what we now call content services. This evolution consisted of a shift from old, complex, on-premises systems to new cloud-based systems that are mobile friendly and focus on interoperability.

This agile, integrated approach is important as businesses move to the cloud and need systems to share information and workflow.

Next: The benefits of document management

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