What is a Content Services Platform? Everything you Need to Know

Find out how a modern, unified Content Services Platform can help advance your business goals.

Generis author
Generis
7 mins

What is a Content Services Platform? Everything you Need to Know

Whether your organisation deals with billions of documents, or just a handful, managing content can pose a real challenge. It’s not enough to simply have a central repository to store content (in some cases, even that is a hurdle), businesses need tools to help them truly manage their content, distribute it, collaborate on it, and use it in more productive ways.

Below is a summary of everything you need to know about Content Services Platforms.

P.S. If you’re just starting out on your digital transformation journey, check out our handy eBook Optimising Digital Transformation in Regulated Industries.

Various forms of content and media devices sit upon a blue background.

What is a Content Services Platform?

The history

In order to fully grasp what a Content Services Platform is today, it’s important to understand its history, particularly the difference between Content Services and its predecessor – the Enterprise Content Management system (ECMs).

The term “Content Services” was coined by Gartner as a successor to the more monolithic ECM systems. In a 2017 Gartner blog (reminiscent of an obituary) titled “The Death of ECM and Birth of Content Services”, analyst Michael Woodbridge made official the passing of the baton from ECM to Content Services, suggesting that this updated approach will better provide organisations with the benefits that ECMs failed to deliver on.

While ECMs were initially successful in providing businesses with a central repository in which to manage their content, they also came with some major drawbacks. ECM systems were complex, expensive, and required significant IT resources to implement and maintain. And, they were often too rigid to customise or integrate with other systems, causing a real headache for businesses needing to adapt to changing requirements or evolving business models. This meant they weren’t well-suited to support collaboration and agility, which became increasingly important in the way organisations wanted to utilise content, rather than just store and access it.

The introduction of CSPs supported a cultural shift in attitude towards how content could be used, shared, and collaborated on within organisations. They break down content silos by connecting enterprise information, natively managing all of todays content types, and by integrating with external systems through API’s, connecting, or even eradicating, entire networks of disparate systems.

Key features of a Content Services Platform

  • Connectivity

A CSP’s ability to connect information from across an organisation is the cornerstone of its offering. Without it, it just becomes another content silo. Content Services Platforms create a centralised, all-encompassing view of your organisation’s content and data, and provide the ability to integrate seamlessly with any external content storage and management systems.

  • Flexibility

Gone are the days where a business’ content was made up entirely of Word documents and PDF’s, modern organisations now require a system capable of managing a whole host of formats like video, audio and image files. CSPs provide the flexibility to store, manage, share, and collaborate on all content types natively from within the platform.

  • Scalability

Simply put, a Content Services Platform needs to be able to scale as the volume of information in your organisation grows. Modern businesses manage anywhere from thousands to billions of pieces of content, often spread across numerous content stores. With the goal of a CSP to connect and centralise these stores, they must be able to cope with the pressure of managing such a significant amount of information.

  • Configurability/Low-code functionality

Low-code functionality is becoming an increasingly important feature of CSPs. Configuring the platform through low-code enables non-technical users to design, build and deploy content-centric applications with little or no coding required. Typically providing intuitive, drag-and-drop interfaces, modern CSPs enable users to quickly and easily create custom workflows, forms, and user interfaces. This makes it easier for businesses to create custom content management solutions that work for them.

  • Cloud-native

With the cloud continuing to surpasses on-premise systems in performance, scalability, cost and more, we now live in an era of cloud-first systems and technology. With that, it’s easy to see why CSPs leverage the numerous benefits associated with the cloud: cloud-based storage and databases, scalability, upgrades and security managed for you, and the ability to access your content from anywhere with any device connected to the internet.

Image showing different benefits of content services on the CARA Platform

When and why should you use a Content Services Platform

There is a misconception that Content Services Platforms are only necessary when an organisation has a significant volume of content. But as we covered above, CSPs offer so much more than just content storage, and as such there are a number of reasons why, and occasions when, your organisation should consider implementing one.

Digital Transformation

If your organisation is beginning digital transformation and modernisation initiatives, but still using disparate systems and ad-hoc manual processes to manage content; it’s time for a CSP. One of the primary goals of digital transformation is to streamline and modernise business processes to become more agile and efficient. A CSP helps achieve these goals by providing a centralised and flexible repository, with the ability to automate and optimise business processes.

Unique Business Processes

All organisations are different, and CSPs are designed to support the unique, specialised business processes that almost every organisation has in place. A CSP’s modular services provide the foundation for organisations to easily develop tailored solutions and applications that are the right fit for them. So if your organisation’s content-related processes require specific collaborative workflows, process automations, and integrations with other existing applications; then a CSP offers one place to bring that all together.

Regulatory Compliance

Finally, many organisations have regulatory compliance requirements such as HIPAA and GDPR. It’s difficult to remain compliant and abide by data protection when several versions of documents are scattered across a mystery number of locations. Content Services Platforms provide a secure, centralised repository for compliant storage, with user access controls for better governance over sensitive content, ensuring it’s handled only by authorised users. They provide audit trails so any actions to content are recorded for compliance purposes, and automated workflows can route content to the appropriate users for review and approval.

The Future of Content Services Platforms

Content Services Platforms are a rapidly evolving technology, and in the coming years will likely be far more advanced than they are now. Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are sure to shape the CSPs of tomorrow. These technologies can help businesses to better manage their content by automating tasks such as content tagging, classification, and extraction. By using AI and ML to analyse large volumes of data, CSPs can provide insights into how content is being used and how it can be improved to better meet the needs of users.

We asked Generis COO, Max Kelleher what he thinks CSPs of tomorrow will look like:

“Instantly transformable data will really be the key to the future of CSPs – today we can centralise content from across the enterprise and serve it up instantly to the right person at the point of need. We can generate content from data or data from content – bringing those two pieces together in the future means delivering the same information in Word form, PDF form, as a data set, or as a graphical report, all at the touch of a button.”

The CARA Platform unites best of breed content services, data management, business process automation and low code application builder on a single platform as a way to completely transform the way your business operates. Find out about the CARA Platform’s Enterprise Content Services here.

FAQ

A Content Services Platform, coined by Gartner in 2017, is the successor to Enterprise Content Management systems. It provides a cloud-based, centralised repository for storing and managing all types of modern content, connecting all information across an organisation. It gives you the ability to scale as the volume of information in an organisation grows, and must be configurable/customisable to allow organisations to develop tailored applications and processes on; often through low/no-code.

  • Connectivity
  • Flexibility
  • Scalability
  • Configurability/Low-code functionality
  • Cloud-native

Businesses should adopt a Content Services Platform when they have digital transformation and modernisation initiatives in place, unique content-related business processes, and regulatory compliance requirements.

Content Services Platforms are much more flexible and agile than their ECM counterparts. They manage all types of content, connect information from across the organisation, and allow for tailored configuration and personalisation.

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