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Enterprise Content Management

What Is Enterprise Content Management?

Enterprise content management is a document management process that allows a business to effectively gather, organize, store, and deliver essential information to those who need it, including customers, stakeholders, and employees. Through a set of defined tools, strategies, and processes, enterprise content management streamlines the life cycle of information within a business by automating workflows and the management of documents.

What Are the Five Essential Components of Enterprise Content Management?

According to the Association for Information and Image Management, enterprise content management is comprised of five major components represented by the acronym CAMPS. The letters stand for the concepts of capture, analyze, map, preserve, and store.

  • Capture — This encompasses every action that enters content into the system, whether it's done by hand or intelligently via automated processes.
  • Analyze — Once all of your business documents and contact types are entered into the system, you need the capability to explore those documents. Enterprise content management creates bridges between search capabilities and unstructured content to extract and infer metadata.
  • Map — Mapping the content creates a pathway between that content and the needs of the business. By storing your content optimally, it can be retrieved and extracted intelligently.
  • Preserve — Often considered long-term-care archiving, content preservation within an enterprise content management plan ensures that archived content is protected and easily accessible for compliance and regulatory reasons as well as use within the business.
  • Store — By affixing content to specific systems, enterprise content management makes retrieval a simple and natural process.

Why Is Enterprise Content Management Important?

Enterprise content management is essential for any organization with large volumes of content. By having a defined ECM plan, operational inefficiencies can be eliminated, costs can be reduced, and adherence to regulatory compliance mandates can be assured. It's the framework that holds the business content and your documents together to make them organized, explorable, and searchable to build meaning and understanding.

According to Mashable, the average U.S. office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper each year. If you apply this statistic to an organization with hundreds of employees, the sheer volume of hard-copy documents that move through an organization annually is astounding.

The inefficiencies of trying to manage all of this paper include cumbersome workflows, difficulty finding information, or losing files altogether, none of which is part of an efficient business. Organizations of any size perform best when they can efficiently and speedily capture, store, manage, and access documents.

Today, more information is available than ever before, and the vast majority isn't created by you. With the mainstreaming of sources such as the cloud, smartphones, thumb drives, and the Web, the need to deal with data of all kinds has accelerated. This includes more media types — text, images, voice files, and so on — as well as media that is alternatively structured.

A failure to manage all of these elements can lead to catastrophic consequences for your business. From minor irritations, such as diminished utility and productivity, to more serious situations including noncompliance with corporate policies or government regulations, all of these situations can result in a serious interruption of your business and even closure.

Thus, the case for enterprise content management is driven in different proportions by the need for continuity, compliance, efficiency, and effectiveness. When knowledgeable workers can focus on work that drives profits and innovations rather than performing manual data entry the entire business benefits.

What Businesses Use Enterprise Content Management?

Not all businesses need an expansive content management system. While becoming a paperless office sounds appealing, many small firms find document processing of this scale is unnecessary and not cost-effective. However, enterprise content management works with your existing architecture of content and data organization to provide value to almost all businesses. To see how ECM benefits businesses of different sizes, read on.

Large-Scale Enterprises

For large-scale corporations, enterprise content management is a valuable and important service. These businesses typically have a high need for data management and the capital to invest in the most sophisticated ECM tools. Determining a method for corralling the plethora of data points into a small stream of information is critical to businesses of this scale.

Small to Medium-Sized Businesses

Small-to-medium businesses can garner value from enterprise content management by integrating it into their current systems a little at a time. By slowly working ECM tools into the business model, these companies can reap the rewards of intensive content management without shelling out the cost to employ all aspects of the system. With this advantage, it's conceivable that your small company could grow into a large enterprise.

Growth-Stage Businesses

Growth-stage businesses exist in a sort of limbo. They're small but are poised to conquer their industry and scale rapidly. These companies can adapt well to onboarding an enterprise content management system. Moreover, without the antiquated physical content of many established firms, a growth-stage business can use the agility and clarity of an enterprise content management system to rapidly scale operations without the fear of losing data.

Enterprise Content Management in the Cloud

In today's world of rapidly advancing technology, the cloud is quickly becoming the go-to platform for information storage and management. It's not surprising that enterprise content management is also using this valuable tool.

By embracing the inherent flexibility of an "anywhere, anytime, any device" model of productivity that is rapidly becoming the norm in business, a company can thrive. The cloud provides a valuable avenue to foster flexibility and high-value solutions such as document management and workflow automation, enabling a highly productive mobile workforce.

Regardless of the industry, organizations process vast amounts of paper and digital documents. For each and every organization that plans to last for generations to come, the cloud is a necessary part of that future.

There are many advantages to operating your enterprise content management system within the cloud. Older on-site systems take up room that must be maintained and requires hours of valuable employee time. The cloud itself takes up no space at all, and with an enterprise content management system, hours of employee time are freed up to work on other tasks.

These systems can go beyond basic document management and provide avenues for both project management and human resources interactions that are cloud-based. This enables them to be mobile-friendly and provide full integration and automation. Cloud solutions offer flexibility and quick deployment as well as long-term value.