Guest Column | September 10, 2018

Addressing A Key Hurdle To Digital Transformation: Modernizing Information Systems

By David Jones, Nuxeo

Electronic Healthcare Information Transfer

Many businesses have embarked on “digital transformation” journeys with the goal of better understanding and anticipating market drivers and optimizing the end-to-end customer experience. But not everyone is prepared to overcome what has emerged as perhaps the greatest threat to achieving digital transformation: content chaos.

This threat is particularly acute for larger, more established enterprises that are often burdened by legacy information management technologies, isolated processes, and disconnected information silos.

In the past, organizations were hesitant to modernize their information management systems because the only option they had was to rip-and-replace existing systems and commit to extensive and painful migration projects. However, times have changed, and enterprises can now modernize while still maintaining and leveraging legacy systems. Modern content services platforms (CSPs) enable organizations to connect information across the enterprise to improve business performance and deliver competitive advantages.

Leverage Legacy Systems While Becoming Future-Proof

For years, enterprises have deployed enterprise content management (ECM) systems with the goal of centrally managing documents and transactional processes. In the modern enterprise, however, these systems have fallen short of their increasingly dynamic information management needs. Today’s companies require a modern and flexible solution; they also need a solution that takes a practical approach to how they manage information. After all, organizations have already made sizable investments in various legacy systems that store business-critical content, so to simply throw this away would be folly.

The problem is, these systems store content in a way that often restricts access to key business information. The promise of extended access, integration to other systems, and new technology such as mobile and cloud access all offer a tantalizing future, but a comprehensive migration is both expensive and time-consuming. Quite simply, most organizations are just not prepared to take the risk and disruption associated with a rip-and-replace of these systems.

CSPs offer an alternative and elegant solution to this dilemma. CSPs can connect with these existing systems to deliver instant benefits and significant savings without the need to rip and replace. A modern CSP can deliver immediate ROI through federated access to information previously locked in other systems and the ability to cloud- and mobile-enable content and data stored in previously stale and idling legacy systems.

Furthermore, CSPs allow organizations to progressively and selectively modernize their infrastructure. They side-step the fallacy mandating that all previous investments need to be migrated into a single solution or platform. CSPs are part of a more intelligent approach that moves what really need to move, and leaves in place anything that works and isn’t blocking digital transformation. CSPs represent a next-generation approach that can connect to and federate information from an enterprise’s existing systems, without forcing a migration of everything. They also enable organizations to quickly and easily build the new apps and solutions that will enable digital transformation.

Where ECM Fail – And CSPs Succeed

Most legacy ECM offerings feature a single repository and are based on dated, client-server architectures that scale vertically on expensive hardware. They typically offer a suite of applications, many of which have been cobbled together from acquisitions. They feature proprietary technologies and, while many now offer APIs, they are largely closed systems and are difficult to integrate with. And, they were really designed to manage text-based documents and images. In short, the ECM approach was to get all enterprise documents and images into a single system and then provide a robust, but expensive and “closed off” set of tools with which to manage content.

The modern CSP takes a fundamentally different approach. It recognizes that content will live in a variety of different places and provides broad connectivity to different systems and content repositories. It is built on a containerized, modern, cloud-native architecture that can be readily deployed anywhere and scales efficiently on commodity hardware. It features open, standards-based APIs and a flexible metadata model that makes it easy to integrate with virtually any other modern application. It offers out-of-the-box connectivity to a broad array of common business and productivity apps to deliver content wherever it is needed. It supports agile development and DevOps, providing a low-code platform for rapidly building content-centric apps. And, of course, it provides robust capabilities to manage both text and non-text content types, like audio, images and video.

In short, the CSP approach is to provide access to all content - regardless of type or where it is stored - for any app, process, service, solution, or user that needs it.

Fundamentally Changing How Businesses Work With Content

When building a new house, the first thing, and singularly most important part as a result, is the foundations. Get the foundations wrong and the house will not be solid. Similarly, for any organization pursuing digital transformation, without the foundation of connected content and data from across the enterprise you expose the business to the very real risk of digital chaos and confusion -- the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve. Get the foundation right and the enterprise can understand, anticipate, and redefine internal and external customer experiences for many years to come.

By deploying a modern CSP, today’s enterprises can position themselves to overcome the challenge of legacy information management technologies, siloed processes, and disconnected information stores. Today’s CSPs hold the promise of rapid ROI.

About The Author

David Jones is an established thought leader and speaker within the information management space and can regularly be seen and heard at related events, webinars and forums globally. He is Director of Product Marketing at Nuxeo, a leader in modern enterprise content services platform solutions. He is responsible for driving forward all aspects of marketing the Nuxeo content services platform globally. He has worked with technologies, such as analytics, cloud and electronic content management, in a wide range of vertical industries for over 20 years, and has occupied roles with AIIM and Hyland, respectively.