The introduction of web and mobile applications has forced us to rethink how content is created. Big Data is also playing a role in the evolution of content and the role of content management platforms. In fact, our view of content itself has also changed.

From Lifeless, Static Documents…

Content management has come a long way. The first electronic content management systems managed electronic files (including scanned paper) with some properties (metadata) attached - what is called unstructured information. Traditional content management platforms have their roots in document management, which in turn came from records management.

Records management was invented to index boxes of paper documents with metadata, enabling you to find the paper more easily and apply some retention rules. This paper was eventually scanned into the platform and you used document management to manage what were essentially TIFFs turned into PDFs, with some metadata.

Evolution of Content Management Then, desktop computers and MS Word arrived. Scanned papers became Word and Excel files. Although now in digital form, they were managed in pretty much the same way, using metadata to apply rules and processes to enable collaboration.

To Living, Active Content

With the introduction of web and mobile applications we have been forced to reconsider our idea of what content is. We have progressed from unstructured, document-based content to producing content in its natural form: structured. Structured content is created through web forms and similar “structured” formats, it is not packaged as a document, but as discrete pieces of information that together make a complete picture of the content.

But it’s about more than structured vs unstructured.

Content residing in unstructured documents (be they paper or digitalized) is static, lifeless, inactive. Content in a structured format is living, active - we can mold it to fit whatever processes we need to do our jobs. It’s easily findable; we can abstract out the pieces needed and combine it in new, innovative ways. This new way of creating and managing content opens a world of capabilities for both the content itself and the business applications we develop to use it.

Organizations are building all kinds of new applications to create and share content. In many cases they are Web-based, mobile - useful for employees who aren’t tied to a desk or are constantly on the move, and for consumers who are demanding new ways to engage with them.

Traditional enterprise content management platforms are designed for archiving and storage. Many simply become glorified file shares providing a place for documents to live, supporting core document management functions that really do no more than follow the paradigm of paper in file folders, in file cabinets. Traditional content management platforms aren’t made to handle live applications and service living, structured information / content.

Today’s businesses need content management platforms that can support new ways to create and manage content. These modern content management platforms also make this content easily accessible as distinct elements to be combined in different ways and used for a variety of purposes. The content stored within content management platforms can be made available to process-based applications, tightly integrated to the business processes that both create content and use it.

Content has become a living asset that can be separated and pieced together in different ways, depending on the business processes that use it. The ability to mold content in fresh and creative ways is a strategic differentiator for any organization.