Author: David Mario Smith Date: October 9, 2014
Topics: Mobile, Content Management Research Note Number: 2014-40
Issue: What are the key trends that influence mobile computing?
Issue: How is content management evolving?
Summary: Content mobility triggers a need for mobile content management to provide governance and security for enterprise content that may be created and used anywhere.
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Mobile content management (MCM) is a hot new buzzword that is often misunderstood. Some say, “It’s just content management – it doesn’t need a special category.” However, we believe that not only is it a category, it overlaps several categories. It goes beyond MDM because the content is mobile, not just the devices. It goes beyond ECM, because content sharing and collaboration are also becoming more and more mobile. In this research note, we look at content mobility and some issues around securely creating, managing and using enterprise content on the move.
People collaborate around content. We see people signing up for consumer-level personal cloud storage services to share all kinds of content. Of course, business people clearly want – need – to share content: it’s how you get your work done. However, this puts your enterprise content on the move and accessible in places where it is hard to manage.
Tools like Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive have emerged from our personal or consumer lives and are now used in business, and this ad hoc use gives rise to serious concerns about security, content management and governance. In turn, enterprise-focused providers such as Box and Accellion aim to bring more security to this transient content while still providing access from anywhere with any device (see Note 1). Even Dropbox now positions itself as an enterprise offering. The need for secure cloud content, accessible on all devices, is clear.
Mobility and the cloud work together to drive convergence across the content and collaboration spectrum. Dynamic, interactive content types like video are forcing enterprises to manage content across devices and access points. But ordinary documents are increasingly created and accessed in the same wide-ranging way.
Your content literally travels. Its path among people, processes and machines crosses many geographic and institutional borders, based on who shares and collaborates with whom (see Figure 1). Much of it needs a high level of security but is created and stored on mobile systems that can be lost, stolen or left unlocked. New protective options exist, but enterprises have to use them.
Figure 1: Mobile Content Crosses Many Borders
Develop An MCM Strategy
Enterprise planners have to address content mobility in their content strategies. MCM offerings have to do more than regular ECM duties when dealing with content on the move. MCM strategies must encompass the content, apps and devices, version control, user access privileges, content security and collaboration around the content.
MCM includes the elements of an ECM suite; then adds more due to the nature of the content. Since the content is mobile, the tools must be ready to travel with it or even embed themselves within it. They have to manage content outside the protective confines of a repository and the safety of an enterprise network.
MCM also has to take into account the wide range of different devices and form factors where content may be used. In addition to metadata about the content, it needs to know the screen size and presentation characteristics of each device it will be displayed on, to render it consistently across all platforms. In some cases, such as video, this may require multiple instances of the content at different resolutions or frame rates. These may be stored in an archive or created on the fly; in either case the MCM needs to maintain their association with each other and the output device.
Making content look good is less important than keeping it safe. Content security is the number one priority of any MCM system. This means integrating with EMM or MDM systems that can lock or delete content when a device is stolen or lost, for example. But simple protection is not enough. MCM also needs to integrate with the entire business ecosystem that surrounds it, to manage each content object in the context of the process it supports and the role it plays within it. Mission-critical content with legal or financial consequences, like a contract or regulatory submission, needs embedded identity and authentication that travels with it to shield the enterprise from liability.
Mobile-Enabling Critical Business Processes
As mobile content moves through a wider and less predictable sequence of workflows and critical processes it will introduce new ways of working. Some processes will need to be revised and some apps will need new capabilities and security features. For example, document creation tools need to provide mobile content with rich metadata that identifies its origin, its purpose, its destination and a complete itinerary.
This is especially critical during the creation cycle, when content is most vulnerable. When a document is being created, it passes among multiple authors and reviewers with a variety of interests and agendas. Necessarily, these people all have write privileges, so just “locking down” the content isn’t possible. The MCM has to integrate with enterprise identity and authentication systems to lock and unlock each document at the appropriate times.
A well-managed document should include a complete workflow that identifies when and by whom it was created, as well as:
- When and to whom it should go for review, what that person can do (edit or just comment?), how long they have to do it and what happens when that time expires
- Where it should go if it is disapproved (back to the author), approved (on to the next reviewer) or elsewhere
- Who the next reviewer is, and on through the approval cycle
- What happens when the cycle is complete (send outside the enterprise, archive, release for publication, etc.)
In the Cloud, Content and Collaboration Converge
As new technology has democratized access to enterprise assets and resources, it has revolutionized how we collaborate and share information. An MCM solution should enable collaboration around any content, as shown previously in Figure 1.
Whether collaboration is part of the content’s creation workflow or simply reuse, the MCM has to exchange process and identity metadata with collaboration tool is in use. When a sales team sits down (virtually, in the many places where they are) to renew a client’s contract, they need to review the existing contract and all the sales and service interactions that client has had with the company – without spending time searching through menus and directories to find those records.
When planners evaluate MCM solutions, they should look for deep, contextual integration with the enterprise’s collaboration infrastructure as well as with other line-of-business applications and the rest of the enterprise’s business ecosystem. Real-time collaboration around critical content will be the default. Not supporting it could risk losing significant business opportunities, hurt your bottom line and cost you competitive advantage.
- Recast interactive content such as recorded audio, video or Web conferences as critical assets that need to be managed in your content strategy.
- Evaluate MCM offerings to deal with content mobility.
- Ensure that MCM offerings complement your existing ECM strategy.
- Consider redesigning enterprise applications for mobility to support new ways of working.
Mobility has changed the way we do things in our personal lives and at work. Planners have to factor these changes into an overall strategy and ensure that business processes are mobile-enabled to support new ways of working. While users can sign up for cloud storage services, IT should also ensure that content can be federated and stored in a secure, managed repository for security, compliance, long-term asset tracking and records management.
Note 1: Representative Enterprise MCM Providers
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