How CIOs Can Be Leaders in Content Management

The IT department is often at the nexus of new technology and necessary maintenance, balancing risk with unwavering security. In this executive series, we take a look at what key challenges IT departments are facing today, and share our expertise in alleviating IT headaches around mobile content management. Following our first postInkling’s VP of Product, Will Doolittle, now explains how CIOs can better manage their company’s content to increase efficacy and decrease risk.

To create and hand off content from one employee to another, today’s businesses likely use a number of different tools. There are authoring tools, such as Microsoft Word; there’re tools that help share content between users, such as Dropbox or email; and there’re tools that render content for the actual reading experience, such as PDF. Pieced together, these different tools make up the whole content production process. The problem is, they’re not bound to each other within the same ecosystem, which often leaves corporate content scattered and untraceable. 

For the IT department, dealing with mismanaged content can be a security nightmare. Not only that, but these loosely-coupled legacy tools leave little room for innovation, especially as more and more businesses decide to go mobile. In order to fully understand the depth of the current content problem, however, we need to step back and look at how content tools have evolved. Then, we’ll show you the key to managing content that provides real business advantages, while simultaneously reducing risk.

From print to digital, the growing number of files

The word processor was invented when secretaries typed letters and memos on paper. Then, Bill Gates gave the world DOS, and with it the 3-letter file extension: DOC, PPT, PDF. The file as a vehicle for content was born, and it has ruled the desktop like the dinosaurs ruled the earth. Today, 500 billion files are created each year with Microsoft Office. Adobe invented desktop publishing, Lotus invented the spreadsheet, and Autodesk invented CAD…but the file-based paradigm has remained, even as practically nothing gets put into manila folders anymore.

All would be well, were it not for the fact that producing great content is a team sport. And teams struggle with files. Who has the master file? Which computer is it on? Which one is the latest version? Who did we share it with, and do the right people have a current copy? Have the right people signed off on it? Did copies slip into the wrong hands? The rise of email and file sharing mechanisms has only exacerbated these problems. Every day, workgroups live on the edge of an IP disaster. We’re accustomed to the tools, so we barely notice the risk; even after a copy of an internal PDF is in the hands of a competitor, we may not even know it.

Content Management Systems like Documentum were invented to address these problems by imposing central controls, but they are too heavy, complex, and inaccessible for today’s mobile-first workforce. From the CIO’s perspective, these solutions can reduce risk but at too high a cost to building competitive advantage for the business. Box and Dropbox have partially addressed the need with a lower-friction solution, but they do little to reduce the risk of misuse and content loss.

Thinking in terms of pages, not files

Meanwhile, an alternative paradigm is available, thanks to the rise of the web. We no longer have to think in terms of files of data; we can think in terms of pages of content. A page is made up of many files (HTML, CSS, GIF, JS), but that hardly matters to the end user. What matters is they see the right content at the right time, from a small phone screen to a massive desktop. And a proper web content delivery platform can ensure that happens, with real-time updates.

There are some differences in the model that content creators need to adapt to, for sure. Designing for the web and apps requires an updated skillset compared to designing for print. The availability of interactivity opens up new vistas that weren’t a traditional concern of designers. Some content platforms, such as WordPress, take the approach of separating content from layout, which can be a challenge for a designer seeking to harmonize the right design with the content. (Inkling’s authoring environment integrates design into the content, so it’s more like a traditional design & layout tool.)

Choosing a web-centric approach to content

The switch, however, is already underway for end users. Print-focused, file-centric approaches are already viewed as anachronistic by the millennial generation. The only desktop tool with 100% penetration in the enterprise is the browser. The fastest growing segment of computing hardware is Chromebooks. The megaplatform of the web is already serving as the foundation for the next generation of business platforms.

This web-centric approach is a huge benefit to IT organizations. Modern platforms like Inkling’s have evolved to the point where business users can be just as (if not more) productive as they were with desktop tools, which is a boon to IT departments tasked with bringing innovation into their organization. And with centralized control over live content—not copies spread out around thousands of desktops—efficiency is increased while risk is reduced across the organization. Taken together, you can find the right balance that drives a competitive advantage for your business.

Want to learn more about how an integrated content platform can help your organization reduce risk and increase efficiency? Read our free guide, “Powering Enterprise-Grade Content: The IT Professional’s Guide.”