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Content Services: What You Need to Know

The term ‘content services’ is a relatively new phrase in the document management industry. If you haven’t heard about it yet, it's an umbrella term closely related to enterprise content management (ECM). 

Terminology in this industry is often confusing and can vary depending on each organisation and with an ever-evolving technology landscape. We want to address what these terms mean and end the ambiguity.

In this blog article, we cover content services, enterprise content management, the difference between the two terms and more.

What are content services?

Content services are cloud-based software that enables content management and the ability to create, share, collaborate on and store text, audio and video content.

The term 'content services' was coined by Gartner, a leading research and advisory company, and is described as an open data storage and management system. More specifically, Gartner has stated the following:

"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."

— Gartner, What You Need to Know About Content Services Platforms, 2017.

For some, content services represent a modern approach to managing content within the ECM landscape. It breaks down traditional ECM systems into smaller, more flexible components. These components include document management, collaboration tools and workflow management, among other content-related services. 

In essence, content services are part of the broader enterprise content management term..  A content services strategy involves utilising distinct technologies built into comprehensive solution suites to address various challenges throughout an organisation.

DocuWare excels at providing the essential features that define an exceptional content services system. With its remarkable capacity to integrate with a wide variety of applications and hardware, DocuWare seamlessly facilitates an effective content management strategy for any organisation. 

We find that the most appropriate term for content services is an advancement of ECM and it highlights ‘modern’ components such as automation, integration and collaboration functionalities – however, it is important to note that some ECMs already have these features within their capabilities. 

What is enterprise content management?

Similarly to content services, enterprise content management is still an unfamiliar term to many. In its simplicity, ECM is the bedrock that refers to the strategies, methods, tools and processes used to capture, manage, store, preserve and deliver content and documents. 

Enterprise content management systems streamline and organise unstructured content throughout its lifecycle – from creation to archiving and disposal. 

Unstructured content includes documents such as invoices, packing slips or proof of deliveries, resumes, tax documents, certifications, emails,

ECM systems traditionally encompass a range of functionalities, including document management, records management, workflow automation, collaboration tools and more. These systems aim to create a unified and centralised repository for all types of content, fostering collaboration, improving productivity and ensuring data integrity.

Organisations use ECM software to identify content that may be duplicated, allowing them to retain limited copies of certain content pieces instead of hundreds. This information is organised in a central location to ensure the content is available to the right people at the right time.

Are content services and enterprise content management different?

ECM encapsulates a comprehensive strategy for managing all types of content within an organisation, while content services represent specific, modular components or services that contribute to the overall ECM strategy. 

These concepts, while interconnected, represent distinct approaches to managing the vast troves of information that define modern businesses. 

While it isn’t a replacement for ECM, content services aim to represent a more modular and flexible approach to handling content within the ECM framework. 

These services are designed to be agile and scalable, providing organisations with the flexibility to adopt and integrate only the functionalities they need. Content services serves as a comprehensive term that encompasses diverse asset management systems such as ECMs, CMSs and others.

The introduction of content services reflects a shift in the way organisations approach content management. As businesses become increasingly dynamic, the need for nimble solutions that can evolve with changing requirements has grown. Content services, with their modular design, allow organisations to pick and choose the specific tools and capabilities that align with their unique needs and goals.

Both content services and enterprise content management work simultaneously with document management software, despite their different approaches to content. Document management covers many of the core features such as capturing, indexing, archiving, automating and controlling information, but typically only with respect to the information found in documents.

How content services fit into enterprise content management

However, it’s crucial to understand that content services fit seamlessly into the already existing ECM framework, offering specialised functionalities that can be integrated into ECM systems or deployed independently. 

Modularity and flexibility

One of the key distinctions between content services and traditional ECM lies in their modularity. 

ECMs encompass a wide array of functionalities, while content services are designed to be modular. Organisations can choose specific services based on their immediate needs, such as document management, collaboration tools or workflow automation. This is still applicable in certain ECMs depending on their capabilities. 

This modularity ensures that content services align closely with the evolving demands of the organisation.


Content services provide a scalable solution for organisations of varying sizes and complexities. 

As businesses grow, they can seamlessly add new content services to their existing infrastructure, ensuring that the system can accommodate increased data volumes and complexity. 

This scalability is particularly advantageous in today's fast-paced business environment, where adaptability is a key factor in staying competitive.

Adaptability to changing technologies

The digital landscape is ever-evolving with new technologies. Content services are designed to be agnostic to these changes, ensuring that organisations can leverage emerging technologies without the need for extensive overhauls. 

This adaptability positions content services as a forward-looking solution that can evolve with the rapidly changing technological landscape.

User-centric approach

Content services often take a user-centric approach, focusing on providing end-users a seamless and intuitive experience. 

Content services aim to enhance user adoption and engagement with user-friendly interfaces and intuitive workflows. 

What does the content service platform look like?

Now that you understand the basics of content services, we can dive deeper into what content services platforms are. 

In its simplest definition, a content services platform, or CSP, is a collection of services and tools that work together to manage and deliver various types and forms of content. Multiple departments can use these services within an organisation, but those in accounts and payable teams can benefit the most from the platform.

A CSP makes it easy to integrate and work with different types of content, including documents, images and videos. 

The overall goal of a CSP is to make it easier for everyone in your organisation to access and use content in their day-to-day work. The central storage place makes it easy to find and share.

This platform ultimately sits within existing and implemented enterprise content management software and systems and includes the following features.

Business process automation 

Business process automation streamlines tasks such as document reviews, approvals and status updates and notifies the relevant individual using workflows.

Organisations can assess and modify workflow triggers to improve employee productivity and make better-informed business decisions.

Low-code development 

Low-code-enabled content services platforms allow teams to create processes specifically tailored to their departments and utilise automation where possible, eliminating the need to involve your IT team.

This reduces the need for external developers and admin, saving your organisation costs.

Integrations and connectivity

Integrating with existing systems, content tools and other business applications is vital when implementing a content services platform.

A CSP should serve as a systematic and centralised view of all stored content to minimise disruption to finding information.

Search capabilities

Having a database that holds large quantities of content makes it a challenge to find exactly what you’re looking for. 

Content services platforms harbour advanced search technology to enable employees to gather structured and unstructured data. 

Data security

Compliance with data security is at the forefront of many organisations — especially those that handle customer information and sensitive data. 

A suitable CSP will have access controls to manage user access to prevent data breaches of confidential information. 

The advantages of content services and ECMs

Improve flexibility and adaptability

Content can be stored and accessed from multiple sources and platforms. This allows for easy scalability and the ability to handle diverse content types and formats. 

Enhance collaboration

Teams can efficiently share documents and track changes to content in real time through a central repository and a collaborative way of working

Simplify integration

Content services seamlessly integrate with other applications and systems using APIs and connectors, such as CRM, ERP and digital accounting platforms like Sage and Xero.

This integration enables a smooth exchange of information, increasing efficiency and reducing the need for manual data entry and the risks that come with it.

Focus on the user

Users can easily find and access the information they need with user-friendly interfaces and intuitive navigation, improving their overall content experience.

Store data efficiently 

Access controls, permissions and encryption capabilities can be implemented to ensure that only authorised users can access and modify documents. 

This helps you comply with regulatory requirements and maintain the integrity and confidentiality of all your documents.

Utilise automation capabilities

A modern tool wouldn't be worth looking at if it didn't involve automation in some form. 

Content services utilise process automation with repetitive tasks, including content categorisation, tagging, workflow management and intelligent indexing.

In fact, IDC’s Content Workflow Automation Survey found that organisations that digitised and automated their document workflows using an ECM saved an average of 3.1 hours per week and reduced time on searching for lost documents by 12.5%

Streamline document management

By storing content in a secure and central repository, you can significantly improve your document management processes and reduce the risks that occur with more traditional document management methods. 

Transform your organisation with content services and enterprise content management

The coexistence of ECM and content services highlights the dynamic nature of the digital era, where adaptability and responsiveness are paramount. 

Organisations now have the opportunity to leverage both the stability of ECM and the agility of content services to create a robust content management ecosystem that aligns seamlessly with their business objectives. 

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the synergy between content services and ECM will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping the future of content management for businesses across industries.

Learn more about Content Services from DocuWare