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Platform thinking for managing content in 2023

Platform thinking requires you to move beyond traditional content management and embrace the holistic power of the platform.

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The power of platform thinking in content management

With a content services extensible platform at the heart of your workflows, you can call upon a veritable panoply of interoperable services that enhance core capabilities. This allows you to create more value from unstructured data by leveraging intelligent automation, AI-powered capture and search, specialist case management tools and more.

And it doesn’t end there. With the platform established, easier integration beckons from across the local business application architecture and from key partners, too.

Moving from traditional content management thinking to platform thinking

The pivot is primarily about a shift in mindset. The key shift into platform thinking is to consider use-case scenarios holistically. This involves moving beyond bounded concepts of what content management technologies had come to represent, and instead leveraging the power of the end-to-end platform.

But, platform thinking is also a state-of-mind on the end-user side too. It’s a way of being inspired to do things with content and data that have only become feasible (or economically viable) with the advent of interconnected platform-based services and information flows.

You need to apply platform thinking in both the strategy, design and operationalisation of real-world business processes (to help tech buyers become smarter customers — better able to articulate their needs in the context of potential new capabilities, and adopt new ways of working in their environment), as well as in the design of technology architectures and approaches to service procurement (to help vendors and providers become better technology partners — working with their customers to help widen horizons, providing inspiration and supporting innovation along the way).

The power of the platform

Platform thinking, designing and building necessitates a shift in the ways products and services are assessed, as well as how buying decisions are made. It’s a continuation of the move from packaged offerings (with very well-defined functionality and limited, high-cost extension and customisation opportunities) to solutions that are still packaged, but which offer extensive, easy-to-use and open APIs to expand and augment their capabilities.

What’s different when content and process workloads live in a platform environment? Two words, mainly: scale and scope. Once you move beyond thinking in terms of traditional content management capabilities, to whatever is now available to you easily on a platform, then the scope of your content processing ambition (and the value you can derive from it) greatly expands.

And where the platform becomes the de facto one-stop-shop for content-based activity, that simplifies the user experience too, since your end-users don’t have to chase the content around.

Benefits and challenges

However, it’s not all pain-free, plain sailing. Platform thinking is no magical panacea. You still have to put the work in, but put it in differently to how knowledge work would have required content be managed and processed in a more traditional set-up.

And don’t forget to plan for the cultural change around new ways of developing services and working with them too. Not everyone will necessarily feel that benefits have been evenly distributed right away.

However, you’re at least now better able to leverage the power and expertise of platform providers in managing these various risks and providing mitigating services.

Platform thinking is no magical panacea. You still have to put the work in. Just put it in differently to how knowledge work would have required content be managed and processed in a more traditional set-up.

- Craig Wentworth

What’s at stake (and what to do about it)?

By not adopting a platform thinking mindset to accompany any platform technology investment, you risk, at best, failing to capitalise on your foundational efforts, as well as your hard-won initial milestone benefits. You’ll miss opportunities for potential follow-on achievements that move your organisation up to the next level by leveraging all the good work and progress made thus far.

At worse, it can also stymie your progress in even realising “first tier” benefits. This happens when your adoption stalls because people haven’t been helped to think themselves into new ways of working and engaging with your business (and the content workflows that drive it). They’re left still trying to fit old square pegs into new round holes.

Think bigger

It’s crucial, then, to move beyond traditional notions of what it means to simply “manage” content when your business really depends upon it.

Think bigger. Find a technology partner that can share your bigger vision and has the scope of native services, partnerships and integrations that can deliver now and grow (in scale and ambition) as your business and its requirements evolve over time.