Author: Jim Lundy Date: October 20, 2014
Topics: Mobile, Content Management Research Note Number: 2014-43
Issue: What technologies and architectures make up a mobile ecosystem?
Issue: How is content management evolving?
Summary: Aragon presents a three-tier model to help enterprises understand the current mobile content management offerings from various providers.
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There are many ways to share, manage and collaborate around content today, and the content management market is changing rapidly to keep up with larger changes in the workplace. One of the largest changes is mobility: workers are no longer tied to a fixed workspace, a fixed schedule or a fixed inventory of devices on which to work. They work at home, in airports or on the beach. They work on tablets and smartphones, many of which they own themselves. Many of them do their own system management and IT provisioning. Their new “workplace” is anywhere they do their work, on any machine they have with them. And necessarily, the content they create and consume goes with them, so not only are the workers mobile but their content is, too. Yet this content still belongs to the enterprise, and it must be protected from loss, theft and misuse.
To meet this need, a new discipline is emerging: mobile content management (MCM). MCM represents a new approach to how content is managed. For one thing, it must be managed wherever it is, whether inside or outside of a canonical repository or even an enterprise-controlled network domain. It may be in the hands of an authenticated user, or of someone outside the enterprise with whom a user is collaborating.
Our companion Research Note 2014-42, Beyond the Repository: Mobile Content Management Is Here provides a detailed overview of the MCM category and what it means to have MCM (see Note 1). One key thing about segmenting this category: many business users who want to share content end up with an EFSS tool that does just that and nothing more. True MCM, however, encompasses sharing, securing and collaborating with content. Because feature sets vary widely, this research note divides the MCM market into three tiers (see Note 2 and Figure 1).
Figure 1: The Three Tiers of Mobile Content Management
Tier 1: Mobile Email
The fundamental definition of cloud content management (CCM) is the ability to share a file in the cloud environment. When email managers began to limit the size of attachments in their systems, some users inevitably needed an alternative file-sharing method that they could provision themselves. Several small providers quickly sprang up to meet this need. Drawn by the low cost and simplicity of the process, users have embraced the idea in large numbers, and cloud content sharing is becoming mainstream.
As a result of this broad acceptance by their users, enterprises are now taking a closer look at MCM, particularly at security. For the enterprise, security is a critical need, and MCM vendors are quickly making it a competitive differentiator. Basic encryption and password access are typical, but increasingly sophisticated security features are appearing in more products
Tier 2: Electronic File Sharing and Desktop Sync (EFSS)
Being able to synchronize content quickly and easily between devices is a growing need that providers are responding to. Initially, EFSS arose because tablets don’t have conventional directories, and because it is just easier to have software move your files around.
In addition to basic file sharing, sync is a powerful feature that users increasingly rely on. Having ready access to the most important files on whatever device or system is being used improves productivity and responsiveness. By eliminating the need to find and import information from remote systems, sync helps users get to work quickly on the most current version of any file they need.
Tier 3: Mobile Content Management
Today, the ability to discuss a document, make comments on it, and work on it with others at the same time are features in high demand. Google popularized this capability with Google Docs, and Microsoft countered with Office 365 (see Research Note 2012-15, Google and Microsoft: The Battle for Office in the Cloud). A growing list of other cloud-based providers now offers some or all of these capabilities.
Enterprises with many users who create and share content need the library services of classic document management, particularly for content security and protection. Cloud-based services address this need with collaborative content services (CCS). CCS combines file sharing, desktop sync and document management with a growing set of collaboration features, including:
- Full tablet support including an app
- Secure access
- Shared authoring and editing (with built-in or third-party tools)
- Basic document management, including version control and security
The rise of content collaboration also generates a demand for additional tools that help people work on projects together. When collaboration is the focus, sharing and managing content is only part of the solution. Other needs include a shared workspace where users can track versions, post notes and comments, conduct discussions, hold virtual meetings and allocate tasks, along with tools to do these things in innovative ways.
Innovation in MCM
We see the need for more than EFSS. Predictive content will make MCM applications smarter and will allow for the application to recognize what content the user needs and then ensure that it is available to them (see Note 3).
Federating with Enterprise Content Management
Enterprise content management (ECM) is what enterprises use to manage and secure their mission-critical content. It combines document management, records management, paper scanning and imaging, basic collaboration (discussions) and archiving with high levels of security, scalability and reliability. Most ECM systems today are on-premises. As cloud-based ECM options emerge, enterprises should evaluate their on-premise systems, see how they compare with the new services, and explore the possible advantages of shifting them to the cloud.
Succeeding with Mobile Content Management
For many enterprises, the first step is developing a strategy to consolidate the multiple repositories they have today. Many enterprises have up to five different ECM systems, often with limited interoperability or scalability beyond their original missions. Even though they represent huge capital investments, their limitations can leave them underused or restrict them to narrow applications in local silos. Meanwhile, other content and collaboration needs may be going unmet. In contrast, cloud-based solutions offer simplicity, fast deployment, ease of use, access from a wide range of devices, and the ability to add users both inside and outside the enterprise.
- Enterprises need to set standards for mobile content management that go beyond EFSS.
- All providers should meet a minimum set of security standards.
- Ease of use should be one of the primary evaluation criteria.
- Realize that business users will adopt multiple tools. Those that do not meet minimum security guidelines should be discontinued.
Mobile content management is about securing, sharing and collaborating on content. The Aragon model for MCM provides enterprises with a method to evaluate the myriad of tools that are out on the market. Educating users and setting some basic guidelines for usage will help to ensure that the right platforms are selected.
Note 1: The Seven Features of MCM
- Ability to store files in the cloud or in hybrid cloud models
- Ability to quickly and easily access content from mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and other emerging mobile devices
- Mobile apps that make it easy to access and manage content
- Ability to collaborate with others on or around the content
- Ability to edit content
- Ability to protect content outside of the repository
- Ability to manage content via policies
Note 2: The Three Tiers of MCM
- Mobile Email: Viewing messages and sharing content is what email is all about. For mobile users, content sharing is the most common way that email is used on smartphones and tablets. It is the least common denominator of MCM. Security, workflow and version control are in the hands of the user.
- Electronic File Share and Sync (EFSS): Automatically synchronizes content between desktop or tablet devices and the cloud repository.
- Mobile Content Management: MCM is all about collaboration and making it easy to share and work with documents on mobile devices. It also includes document security, document distribution, rights management and data loss prevention.
Note 3: The Rise of Predictive Content
Predictive content is all about delivering the right content to the user right when they need it. This is especially true in an era of content overload. Machine learning algorithms will be incorporated into MCM offerings to enable this predictive capability.
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