Why all the interest all of a sudden about putting content “in the cloud”? Well, certainly it is a result of some serious marketing dollars from suppliers, and the general wave of successful SaaS offerings in many other application segments. So is the time right for content to be managed in the cloud? (And, just to be clear, I mean SaaS-based cloud offerings.) Let’s consider the benefits, in order of priority as I see them:
It gives you a way to collaborate with “outsiders.” One of the big benefits of the current cloud offerings is the simplicity in which you can spin up a collaboration space with people outside of a corporate firewall. While certainly this scares the heck out of some information security folks, there are many scenarios where sharing documents with outsiders is highly desirable or even required, and needs to be done today. Until now, you had to maintain two sets of documents, using email as the conduit between the two parties. Having a single source in the cloud, automatically versioned, is an attractive offering.
It’s cheap, or more important, it presents no fixed costs. At about $250 per user, PER YEAR, the cost certainly beats traditional ECM systems by a factor of 5, and is less thanMicrosoft SharePoint, especially if you consider the fully loaded costs of an internal implementation including infrastructure, back-up, etc. Even better is the fact that the investment level directly matches consumption. No longer do you need to spend hundreds of thousand this year, and next year you will have a system up and running.
You don’t have to deal with IT. Working through the application provisioning process at many organizations is a painful and often lengthy process. In most cases, this deliberate process is intended to get things right the first time and prevent the adoption of many different “orphaned” systems over the long term. But, but, but: Many times waiting is not practical. Users need alternatives, and cloud-based offerings are attractive.
But will big organizations embrace this approach, when they already have all the content management tools they could ever need? What about sensitive information? These are legitimate questions, and the cottage industry of SaaS-based cloud providers will likely live or die based on the results. In my opinion, cloud solutions do fill a critical niche.
And for those of you working in big “conservative” organizations: Would you put critical client data in the cloud? Well, you put your customers’ and your prospective contact information into Salesforce, didn’t you?