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Big content, big problem

Try to manage gigabytes worth of content in inadequate systems and you’re setting yourself up for a lot of problems, warns David Jones

We all use digital content and data; that’s as true for the individual checking out sporting highlights on their mobile device as it is for an enterprise trying to use data to optimise its marketing programmes and campaigns.
The problem is that most enterprises are not effectively managing the massive volume of content and data stored within their multitude of disconnected business systems and information repositories. The very real danger is that before they know it they end up with huge volumes of Big Content and Big Data with no way of doing anything with it.
AIIM, the global association for the information management profession, recently polled practitioners in Europe and North America about this challenge, and their conclusions are far from reassuring. Survey respondents reported that it’s not just the scale and nature of information management challenges that have changed, but the content itself has grown bigger and more complex. The results point to what many already know: organisations are facing real problems when it comes to Big Content.
Unfortunately, the technology intended to help companies manage their information assets – Enterprise Content Management (ECM) – hasn’t lived up to expectations. Legacy ECM vendors are still selling the ‘place all your content into our system and it will solve all your problems’ pipe dream, but organisations that have attempted this approach know it’s unrealistic and ineffective. In fact, most organisations feature two, and some more than five, such systems, all storing different flavours of content and data.  

Multiplicity of systems
Most businesses keep content assets within isolated applications – the average number of applications relying on business content varies depending on which analyst firm you talk to, but it generally ranges from 8 to 32 – and legacy ECM solutions were never really architected to connect to these in-house developed systems, line of business applications and other legacy solutions.
Then there’s the data kept in network drives, individual file folders, email systems and spreadsheets – 61% of survey respondents said they still put critical business information in spreadsheets.
The increasing volume and speed of incoming information is one thing. Another is the size of files. There are more digital file types (video, images, audio) than ever before, and they all tend to be very large. In the past, digital asset management was something that only media and entertainment companies and internal creative departments had to struggle with, but now every corner of every market is challenged with how to manage this type of rich content.
Information overload seems the norm, not the exception. Expecting to store terabytes of video and images in an infrastructure that isn’t set up to manage that sort of load is going to lead to multiple (and expensive) performance issues.
At the same time, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for business users to find what they need. Three quarters of AIIM survey respondents said they can’t find the right information within their business in a timely manner – that’s 76% of employees in allegedly modern ‘digital’ organisations who can’t access the information they need to work effectively. If you can’t find the right information, how are you going to be able to share it with colleagues, customers and clients? That’s a huge problem.

Practical way of dealing with Big Content
Solving the Big Content conundrum requires a more intelligent, modern and connected approach to information management i.e. a modern and flexible Content Services Platform (CSP) able to connect to existing business systems and to manage all the data and content types utilised by an organisation.
Connecting to different business systems enables the CSP to serve as a central information hub. Not one that you move content into, but one that lets you see all your content, wherever it is stored, and access and manage it from one central point.
When you are ready, the next step is to consolidate technology by moving data and content from existing systems into a modern platform. After all, each of these systems costs money to run. A legacy ECM system requiring specialist staff and dedicated servers could be costing tens of thousands to maintain and operate each year, perhaps millions in larger organisations.
The result is a more streamlined set of information management tools doing the same tasks as before, but in a more scalable, flexible and powerful way.
We need to solve today’s problem of Big (and increasingly bigger) Content. Let’s not put our heads in the sand, but instead proactively solve this challenge now, before information overload cripples our productivity and hinders our ability to run our businesses effectively.

David Jones is Director of Product Marketing at Nuxeo, a leader in the provision of Content Services Platforms. The AIIM-Nuxeo report mentioned in the article can be downloaded from

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