How do you manage and disseminate mission-critical content?

The thing with information is that the simpler it gets to collect and distribute, the more of it there is. It’s also spread across more departments. “The bigger your business, the more data sources (emails, documents, databases, websites), data stores (servers, hard drives, smartphones), departments (sales, admin, creative, legal) and offices you will find information spread across,” said Geoff Spick on his blog. (

It may all be useful stuff, of course, but keeping tracks of such data – and ensuring all those who need to, have access – has led to a raft of content management and collaboration suites, and is one of the hot topics across the internet right now that we are monitoring at the Business Technology forum. In particular, how to cope with and manage all this content.

“Enterprises are drowning in information as new content is being created and delivered from an increasing variety of sources ranging from the traditional to newer forms like blogs, wikis and digital media,” says. Larry Barrett. ( “One way to corral all that information is a content management system.”

Such systems have come to the fore as organisations realised that linking staff and suppliers across multiple sites was a major operation. Fashion retailer New Look, for example – which has stores in 15 countries across Europe, Asia and the Middle East, a customer base that extends across 32 countries and is supported by suppliers in 40 countries – is using Oracle Universal Content Management. This forms the platform for its iLook enterprise social network, enabling it to connect and collaborate with its 27,000 employees and business partners. (

Keeping stakeholders ‘in the loop’ has grown in complexity as the number of communications channels grows, not least via mobile applications. “The plethora of choices in the mobile device department are making it hard for mid-market CIOs to manage them all,” added Michael Singer. (

“A recent report by Kelton Research found midmarket companies are putting a high value on mobility. The survey of 500 companies in the US and UK revealed 63% of non-IT managers say remote access services make their staff more productive.”

There often simply isn’t the time to sift through the data. “Especially during a crisis, large volumes of unstructured data need to be waded through to find information that is vital. By the value-adding process of structuring the incoming reports (adding co-ordinates, categorising and translating) the information can be quickly streamed back to those who need it most. The bottleneck is that it can take a lot of time to add structured data to unstructured reports, and people’s resources are already the most stretched during a crisis,” said Robert Munroon his blog. (

Judith Lamont from KM World said: “ECM (Enterprise Content Management) is what you make of it. In some cases, the mission-critical function is workflow, in others it’s change management, and in still others it’s collaboration. ECM can take on many roles, and is increasingly able to be tailored to meet users’ requirements.” (

“In today’s dynamic marketplace, organisations need tools in their hands with more than generic capabilities that will help them manage documents or records. They need to be able quickly to create applications that solve actual business problems,” said Barb Mosher. “According to some, ECM software must provide lean, social-enabled and interoperable platforms upon which content-centric business applications can be built.” (

“If you still think that an enterprise content management system is a repository of documents and an interface through which to access them, it’s time to update your image,” added Lamont.

In fact, content managements systems are already evolving. “Companies who already have many files of useable content have a difficult time accessing their information because it is stored in a gamut of styles such as PDFs, PowerPoint, images, Excel spreadsheets and word processed documents,” says web content specialist Melissa Peterman. (

“With the internet, companies are re-focusing how they approach their businesses and are exploring new ways of communication. Since the internet and XML go hand-in-hand these days and organisations are using XML content everyday, suddenly there came about the need for XML Management.

“This new digital asset management style allows businesses to learn from their employees by seeing what employees are Xquerying and use that new information to create new content applications and address new ways of content delivery and present that exact information they are looking for.”

Is content management becoming a major issue? How can companies ensure those who need access get it, and how can the plethora of formats and distribution channels be properly accommodated in a CMS?

To discuss this and other articles please visit the Mission Critical Systems Forum group on LinkedIn.

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