Staying Ahead of the Content Fragmentation

By Christian Buckley posted 06-20-2013 17:20

  

I just returned from the #e2conf (www.e2conf.com) event in Boston, which focused on the rapid expansion of social collaboration platforms, and was not surprised by many of the concerns among the participants about impacts to existing platforms and architectures -- and what to do with the growing fragmentation of their content. Enterprise Content Management (ECM) as a category has been so much about the organization of content across the many data silos, but ECM has become yet another data silo, as identified by AIIM CEO John Mancini in his most recent CMSWire article Digital Chatter, Information Overload, and How to Get it Under Control.

 

I'm always loathe to use the phrases "shifting paradigm" or "paradigm changer," but that's exactly what social collaboration is doing to the broader knowledge management space. If you look back even 18 to 24 months in the past, the focus was to classify every artifact within our enterprise platform using detailed metadata, structured taxonomies and content types, and expansive architectures and topologies that would allow us more powerful and flexible search options -- all in an effort to identify content and expertise hidden within our rapidly growing content stores. That model has been turned on its head. In our drive to get more of our content management investments, and, more importantly, to get our end users to more actively participate in the process, we turned to social collaboration.

 

Hopefully we can all agree that a collaboration platform without end user participation equals failure. Now I'm not suggesting that the tools and platforms available today are the panacea of collaboration -- I think its still a work in progress. My prediction is that the next wave will rest somewhere in between the structured collaboration model of SharePoint, for example, and a Yammer or Tibbr. We are changing our internal collaboration paradigm (sorry for using this word again) from a structured to an unstructured model -- but I believe that we'll ultimately need to have more of a hub-and-spoke model, with vast social collaboration hubs or networks that can plug into, or access information within numerous content spokes, each with varying regulatory, compliance, and permissions-based controls.

 

What we need to do now is to keep our heads, and be aware of the requirements that surround each piece of content (which might be different depending on content type, system of record, or business unit) and how they should be accessed, viewed, edited, shared, secured, retained, or removed by members of your social collaboration network. More precisely, understand what content should be accessible through your social platforms, and what content should remain within your ECM platform. Don't lock it all down, but don't allow access to everything.

 

Creating a content lifecycle that includes social is going to be difficult -- but it’s the linchpin to controlling content fragmentation in an increasingly unstructured collaboration world.



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07-06-2013 19:53

Microsoft is now making the argument that the only way to keep pace with your end user demands is to shift toward social and the cloud, but i am with you -- most businesses will need to make a longer transition so that they can recoup much of the cost of the last phase. While cloud-based delivery will give you more of the right features, and more quickly, you need to move forward only as fast as it makes sense for your business. It's nice to always have the newest, shiniest car to drive. But my 1991 Camry runs just fine.

07-02-2013 06:53

I don't disagree Christian and there is a certain inevitability about the paradigm shift but what about the ailing CEO and other senior business stakeholders who have invested millions of $ and thousands of business hours to sponsor these taxonomy-driven search-enabled architectures only now to be told that the game has changed? Can they believe IT anymore? You can see why they may baulk at any imminent change or departure from a strategy that has taken years to define. At Salem our lifecycle has social built in at a sub modular level so that it underpins everything, as and if desired but I can only imagine the new social-focus may be a bitter pill for some to swallow and will take another cycle (3 years) to move towards - the word 'unstructured' as with the word 'social' may better be re-termed to be less frightening and more embracing for a wider potential stakeholder audience.

06-23-2013 02:51

Our content strategy isn't as complicated at the moment but we still have issues with authorship. Many times, I have my assistants write articles for our website and blog and I would really like them to say they are authored by me.. but I don't want to give my assistants my login info so that I get authorship credit. Just something else we have to work out.
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