Mobile and Cloud Computing Are Changing ECM. Are You Ready?

Enterprise content management (ECM), according to projections, will be a $12 billion industry by 2019. The affordability of SaaS solutions has made ECM reachable for small and medium-sized businesses. Also, the rapid increase in mobile traffic — and the desire to work on enterprise content using mobile devices — is making it necessary to companies to adopt device-agnostic ECM. Whether your company uses small, simple solutions like Box or something like Google Drive for Work, ECM is becoming less complicated in some ways but more challenging in others. Specifically, cloud adoption and enterprise mobility are causing many businesses to rethink ECM. The key is to think not just about the ECM that’s needed for today but more about the ECM that will suit the business for years to come.

Hello, Cloud

Today’s small companies might not purchase cloud storage from AWS, but if they’re using QuickBooks Online or Office 365, they’re using cloud solutions. On the other end of the spectrum, big enterprises are grappling with the public vs. private cloud debate. They want to balance big storage and usage capabilities with a better feeling of security. Unfortunately, transitioning to an entirely private cloud isn’t always realistic, particularly for multi-national companies. It’s also not cost-effective for companies whose population of workers doesn’t equal that of a small city. For an added feeling of security, many larger companies want private clouds that rely on VMs. They feel more comfortable with private cloud virtualization security, which they can control within their own datacenters, or they purchase single-tenant cloud computing from a third-party datacenter. A big appeal of cloud computing is the ability to get IT without adding costly infrastructure. Building their own datacenters to house private clouds negates the financial advantage of using someone else’s stuff. Also, just because a company controls its private cloud doesn’t means the private cloud is more secure — a public cloud provider like AWS might do security better than a small business IT team. Hybrid cloud for ECM combines the secure feeling of private cloud storage with the ability to pull in public cloud resources if demand seriously escalates. Companies can store content that contains sensitive information, including personally identifiable information and intellectual property, within their own private cloud. When they do need to scale for higher resources, they have to work out how to make their private clouds play nicely with the public cloud.

Everything Is Mobile

Mobile technology enables today’s employees to work whenever and wherever they want to, and ECM solutions have to be mobile-friendly. When it comes to BYOD, resistance is futile; employees will demand to use their own preferred devices. Any ECM system has to support a wide range of Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry devices. Enterprise mobility continues to be a pain point for IT departments. Interoperability is one issue, but the concern about where data lives is what keeps CISOs up at night. World-class mobile security can’t protect enterprise content if it lives on an employee’s stolen tablet. When deciding how to adapt ECM to mobile, these are just a sample of questions businesses have to consider:

  • Should the company partition employee devices to separate personal and business information? In most cases, this isn’t practical, and employees will find workarounds. Instead of logging into the VPN late at night, they’ll take screenshots of a document at work and then upload them onto their personal laptop at home.
  • When is encryption needed? Depending on the value of a piece of content, businesses have to decide whether encryption is worth it. Also, they have to decide whether to require email encryption and mobile device encryption.
  • How much access can the company have to the employee’s mobile device? It’s tough to find a balance between letting employees access content anywhere and respecting the privacy of the employee’s personal information. For example, if an employee who works with sensitive information gets fired, can the company remote wipe data from the employee’s smartphone without the employee’s permission?
  • How does shadow IT impact enterprise content? If employees share files on a consumer sharing platform, like Dropbox, or they access enterprise content with commercial apps, data travels outside the company’s security perimeter.

Choosing the Right ECM

The modern ECM has to balance a company’s security needs with its employees desire to work from anywhere. Cloud and mobility are the future of work. ECM has to adapt.

Rehan is an entrepreneur, business graduate, content strategist and editor overseeing contributed content at BigdataShowcase. He is passionate about writing stuff for startups. His areas of interest include digital business strategy and strategic decision making.