The digital universe is rapidly expanding; by 2022, it is expected to exceed 97 zettabytes (10,9 trillion gigabytes).1 Organizations are moving away from paper documents to digital assets like electronic documents, videos, and images to conduct business operations. However, managing and searching high volumes of content can be challenging for organizations:
- The amount of content an employee needs to manage is increasing. About ~20% of office professionals rank searching for documents as their top problem, and ~58% say this is one of their top three problems.
Content services (CS) can assist digital asset governance in hybrid cloud environments. Many business executives, however, are not familiar with CSs. This article explores:
- What content services are
- Why content services are important
- How content services work
- The differences between enterprise content management system (ECM) and content services
- The use cases of content services
- And what content services’ benefits are.
What are content services (CSs)?
Content services platforms are integrated product suites or separate applications that use the same application programming interface (API) to provide services or microservices. These services can organize, develop, manage, secure, and search content and deliver it to customers, employees, and business partners.
CS platforms can be integrated into your software suite or run independently. This content may include, but is not limited to, digital assets like:
- Social media data
- User information
Previously, enterprise content management systems enabled companies to organize, search, and manage content. ECMs offered services for both on-premises storage and hybrid cloud environments.2
With the improvements to hybrid cloud environments and remote working, the focus shifted to making it possible for the whole company to use content, no matter where or how it was stored. Content services platforms focused on improving content management processes in hybrid cloud environments.
Why is it important?
- Reduces content search time: Searching content in files can be time-consuming. CS can organize documents, videos, and images in files on a single platform concerning metadata information instead of files. Metadata information can include information about the time and date of creation of a file, the sender’s email and IP address, recipients’ addresses, and the route taken to them. CSs are software to search documents concerning metadata information (see Video 1).
- Cloud configuration management: CSs can integrate cloud environments using a single API. Configuring hardware and software details for cloud environment elements to interact and connect is called cloud configuration. CS can assist in a cloud configuration.
- Easy-to-use interface to develop APIs: CSs can offer low-code and easy-to-use interfaces to develop API services. Low-code development has the potential to be ~50% to ~90% more efficient than a high-code approach.
How does it work?
1. File storing with metadata
Content services platforms do not use a file-based organization to store files. Instead, they organize documents concerning metadata information. The metadata information can contain the following elements:3
- Class: Invoice
- Title: Sales Transaction
- Created by: Sales Representative
- Due date: 22/05/2022
- Customer: Food Company
- Project: 2022 Aims
Figure 1: The picture on right in the red frame contains the metadata information about the cat picture on the left.4 Retrieved on December 8, 2023. [/efn_note]
CS platforms can use metadata information to organize content like images, videos, and audio files. These documents, then, can be searched on content service platforms using their search feature (see Video 1).
Video 1: How to use content services platform to search and organize content.
2. Use of common API to manage cloud platforms
API is a protocol that allows two or more computer programs to communicate. APIs are software with which the communication of computer programs can be automated.
The API of content services platforms works between different cloud environments so that a single platform can get files from different cloud environments.5
CSs’ API can provide operations like:
- Document and folder administration
These operations can automate, extract, transform, and integrate data from various applications.
Figure 2: APIs connect multiple repositories and services.6
Content services can use low-code APIs. The CS’s user interface (UI) can be used for low-code API development. The user can code APIs in the UI by writing shortcodes for specific tasks or checking checkboxes (see Video 2). Then, the user’s choices will be automatically translated as code by the low-code software. This can enable users to create API services and microservices.
Video 2: The use of low-code APIs in a CS platform.
What is the difference between ECM and CS platforms?
Content services platforms (CSPs) connect software and hybrid cloud environments with a single low-code API. Their main concern is managing cloud environments from a single platform and storing and managing electronic files (e-files) in both public and private environments.
ECM systems can also share and manage content in a single repository on on-premises and cloud environments, but ECM systems are less specific for hybrid cloud management.
For example, ECMs and CSPs have common applications such as:
- Structured and unstructured document capture
- Content search
- Electronic file processing
- Case management
- Records and archive administration
What are the use cases of CS?
Content services can have a variety of uses. These use cases are categorized into 5 different areas: general use cases, data security, HR, accounting, and healthcare:
1. General use cases
- Email governance: Content services tools can be used to handle emails. It can file, store, and organize sent and received emails with a single click.
- Contract management: Content services’ version control features can assist you in avoiding working on multiple versions of the same document in managing contracts.
- Multilingual document processing: Content services can let you search your content in your cloud environment in more than one language, translate it, and give you reports in more than one language.
2. Security capabilities
- Redaction services: Content services can provide redaction services to remove or blackout sensitive information from content.
- Content encryption: Content services can offer content encryption services to mitigate data theft. Content encryption services can provide cloud-based content protection.
- Employee information administration: Content services can give HR a central location for your HR content, like resumes and materials for new employees.
- To centralize policy monitoring: With content services, HR can send out policies and receive acknowledgments from the same place.
- End-to-end document automation: Content services can automate posting invoices with order numbers.
- ERP/accounting software integration: ERPs can be linked to content services tools, which lets your employees compare invoice data and prices stored in different environments.
In addition, the following are some examples of CS applications in healthcare:
- Electronic medical records (EMR) management: Content services platforms can provide an EMR system. The EMR system can be used as records management to enhance patient record searches and protect patient information.
- Healthcare big data management: Content services can be used in electronic health records management and IoT data management of devices like refrigerators.
- Audit controls and compliance management: Content services platforms can keep access and activity reports to comply with HIPAA Security Rule.
To learn more about the use cases of content services, check out this comprehensive article.
Figure 3: CS platform architecture.7
What are the benefits of CS?
The use of content services can have a variety of benefits. These benefits can be listed under 2 categories: content management and cloud-based benefits.
1. Content management benefits
- Increase in content visibility: CSs can unify content in various cloud environments on a single platform.
- Reduced efforts in content management: CSs can provide electronic file management features like content organization relying on metadata information.
- Reduced costs in document processing: CSs can assist in application integration like SAP ERP and SAP BW, reducing costs in operations like invoice processing.
- Improvements in document tracking: CSs can record document access, enabling authorized personnel to see who has accessed the documents.
2. Cloud-based benefits
- Saving time in coding APIs: CSs can provide a low-code platform to program APIs, saving time from scripting.
- Improvements in cloud management: CSs use a single API to get content in a hybrid-cloud environment.
- Reduction in data silos: Different data-siloing platforms can be combined under one CSs platform.
Check out this quick read to learn more about the benefits of content services.
If you have further questions about CS, please feel free to contact us at:
Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.
Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.
Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.
He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.
Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.
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