Microsoft Content Services: the future of ECM

By 12th February 2019 SharePoint Automation

Traditional ECM is heading for extinction. Long gone are the days of static content archives, where valuable time, energy and resource is poured into creating valuable content, only for it to be lost, never to be seen again in a sea of dormant documents and cluttered information silos. Enter dynamic content services from Microsoft.  

Content is often now the most critical digital asset for any enterprise organisation, and the process of organising, protecting and managing this content can seem like a daunting task. That’s why organisations are turning in droves to Microsoft Content Services for a one-stop-shop Content Services solution. 

The modern approach to content services is much more user focused. Where previously Enterprise Content Management was designed to serve those who needed to control and record content, Content Services are designed to enhance the productivity of the users who are actively working with content daily, and need a more dynamic approach to content management while still offering enhanced data governance and reporting capabilities. 

Designed to deliver business value proactively and throughout a content lifecycle, rather than after-the-fact management of dormant assets, content services allow for both user-friendly personal management (copy, move, tag with metadata) using familiar and intuitive tools in the Microsoft Office Suite, and organisational management (knowledge management, record retention, information lifecycle management) across the whole of Office 365. 

There are four pillars of Microsoft content services: 

Harvest 

Content in a traditional ECM cycle often ends with document retention or deletion, but all content exists to serve a future purpose, to inform decisions, support new content creation or research, or inspire future projects, so it’s important for organisations to be able to intelligently analyze, discover, reuse, search for content. It needs to be quick for users to find easy and to access.  

Discoverable content within an organisation generally exists in multiple places, and the robust search functionality in Office 365 searches across Exchange, SharePoint, Skype for Business and OneDrive to rapidly surface information where and when it is needed, compiling security-trimmed results from both cloud and on-premise content.  

Social themed tools in Office 365 such as Delve and the Microsoft Graph also give you access to useful insights designed to increase your business productivity, such as who’s working on which projects, information that is likely to be useful to each user based on their previous activities, and the ability to surface content where it needed, regardless of where it is stored. 

Create 

Most information in enterprise organisations today is found in dynamic documents that are edited, updated, and reworked multiple times during their lifespans. Rather than being static documents that are created, filed away and inevitably lost, the most valuable content today is created dynamically and collaboratively. With content velocity, information becomes more valuable over time, increasing in relevance the more it is edited and re-used.  

Content velocity needs to be balanced with appropriate control and management of documentation however, especially in regulated industries. With Microsoft Content Services, content can be managed as soon as it is created, through the use of template-driven content types, metadata and governance policies, so you can easily create, collect, and classify the content you need to get work done. 

Coordinate 

Office 365, powered by SharePoint and OneDrive, is the place everyone you work with – both inside and outside your organisation – comes to collaborate, communicate and get work done in real time. The tightly integrated capabilities within SharePoint and OneDrive mean that content can easily be found, governed and consumed across all of Office 365, all through the familiar and intuitive interface of the Microsoft Office Suite. Your users are happy using the tools they know and love, and Microsoft’s Governance and security policies are simple, intelligent, and automated to help protect content in all phases of the content lifecycle, so you’re happy in the knowledge that your data is being effectively managed and securely protected, even when collaborating with external third parties. 

The clear and logical structure of the SharePoint information hierarchy means you can structure your teamwork, and share, discuss, and co-author content using groups, metadata, taxonomy, Teams, Flow, and PowerApps. 

Protect 

Manage compliance and reduce risk with information lifecycle governance, including information architecture, auditing, rights management, records and retention labels, and eDiscovery. SharePoint continues to build on a long tradition of supporting information lifecycle governance, records management and e-Discovery, and Microsoft are investing heavily developing new capabilities and integration throughout the entire Office 365 suite. The greatly enhanced and advanced data governance features in Office 365 mean that records retention, disposition and overall lifecycle governance are becoming ever more sophisticated. 

For example, records management and retention capabilities are now offered across Exchange, Skype, OneDrive, and SharePoint, that allow an administrator to define policy labels that enforce document retention and deletion policies, including those based on external events such as project closure, payment receipt, or manual review. With the introduction of conditional access policies, you can also control or prevent access to content based on data sensitivity, user location or device e.g. you can block access from certain countries or limit access to read only on users’ personal devices. 

Leveraging your Office 365 Investment 

Unlocking the full potential of the Office 365 platform is key to leveraging your return on investment. The Business Cloud Integration team offer guidance and support for the entire lifecycle of your SharePoint deployment, from initial guidance and Office 365 roadmap planning through to SharePoint design, build, development, and training. We also deliver a range of business ready solutions that can be deployed instantly, easily customised to fit your business requirements, and that are designed by a team with decades of experience and world class SharePoint Enterprise Content Management expertise. To find out more, contact us today.