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What is content services?

The exponential growth of data is driving the need for effective information governance — and content services is the leading approach to managing information throughout its life cycle.

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Today, organizations are shedding monolithic document repositories in favor of content services platforms capable of aggregating content across multiple repositories to connect disparate applications. 

So, what is content services? Gartner, a leading research and advisory company, coined the term to represent a shift from self-contained systems and repositories to open services.  

At Hyland, we believe this evolution also supports changing expectations in how and where content is created, used and shared across organizations. 

What is content services?

With the transformation of enterprise content management (ECM) to content services, Gartner shared a new market definition in its report, What You Need to Know About Content Services Platforms:

""Content services are a set of services and microservices, embodied either as an integrated product suite or as separate applications that share common APIs and repositories, to exploit diverse content types and to serve multiple constituencies and numerous use cases across an organization.""

— Gartner, What You Need to Know About Content Services Platforms, 2017.

The Gartner report also states that the practice of content management, collaboration and dissemination is best enabled through a set of services that coordinate content usage by all parties — users, systems and applications.

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Gartner Market Guide for Content Services Platforms

You can use a Market Guide to understand how the status of an emerging market aligns to your future plans. Discover why Hyland has been recognized as a 2023 Gartner Representative Vendor.

Elements of content services

Gartner's report states that content services consists of platforms, applications and components: 

Content services platforms

According to Gartner's report, content services platforms represent the evolution of ECM suites, focused on content management, governance and processing. As the report states, a content services platform will have its own repository and may also integrate external repositories through connectors and APIs or packaged integrations. 

Content services platform providers offer integrated sets of content-related services, microservices, repositories and tools that support common content use cases. Common services available with these platforms include document management, search, indexing, categorization, capture, version control, workflow, records management, content analytics and more. 

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Content services applications

Applications provide business solution-focused capabilities, according to Gartner's report. These applications offer features that can handle certain use cases across the enterprise. 

Examples include HR onboarding, vendor invoice management, legal contracts management and insurance claims management.

Content services components

Utility-based services add additional capabilities to existing applications and platforms, the Gartner report states.

For example, organizations may leverage a service component that translates English into Spanish, or an application that analyzes and automatically tags content. 

Content services: An evolving landscape

The shift from ECM to content services denotes a transition away from focusing on the storage of content across the enterprise to the active use of content — in context — by individuals and teams, both inside and outside the organization.

What is a content services platform?

A content services platform (CSP) stores and manages various types of data and content types from one centralized, accessible location. The right CSP maintains information governance, facilitates document sharing and accelerates decision-making throughout an organization.

A CSP includes all the capabilities of an ECM platform, such as document management, data capture, indexing and workflow management. The difference is that a CSP solution emphasizes maximum integration with other business applications that are used daily. This allows various types of content (files, audio, videos, etc.) to be accessed via the interface of the respective process applications.

As a result, your employees minimize the need to constantly switch back and forth between systems when accessing or sharing crucial information.

Key features of a content services platform

When selecting cloud-based CSP software, determine whether its available features truly meet your organization's demands for ongoing digital transformation. Innovative content services components include:  

Business process automation (BPA)

Consider a CSP that will increase the efficiency of your workflows and business processes.

BPA technologies in a content services solution will streamline document routing, reviews or approvals, task status updates and notifications to users in a workflow. Organizations can set and modify these workflow triggers or build other rules-based processes to improve employee productivity and make informed decisions faster.

Low-code development 

Choose a content services provider that minimizes your IT backlog instead of adding to your business’ complexity. A low-code approach uses simplistic visual tools to enable citizen developers (users with minimal coding knowledge) to deploy new business applications and updates.

A low-code-enabled CSP allows your teams to create department-specific processes and deploy automation when they need to. End users can accelerate digital adoption for their respective processes, and IT teams can modify and improve these applications at the end.

Integrations and connectivity

A CSP’s stronghold is its ability to eliminate silos. It is vital that your preferred content services provider is able to integrate with your existing legacy systems, disparate content tools or other business applications.  

Your CSP should serve as a systematic and centralized view of all stored content in order to minimize the time-draining and confusing processes your employees must go through to gain access to important information.  

Search capabilities

Organizations receive an incredible amount of data daily — which is subsequently stored in various locations. Employees will find it challenging to access specific documents, especially if they are filed across disparate systems or titled with inconsistent file-naming methods.

That’s why your organization requires a powerful, perceptive search functionality. Advanced search technology enables employees to pull up both unstructured and structured data with dynamic:

  • Intelligent query design tools  
  • Results preview from over 500 content formats 
  • Relevance rankings  

Data security

Businesses that manage critical customer information and sensitive data must stay on top of ever-changing regulations.

Your CSP must come with access controls to manage or limit user access to confidential information and prevent data breaches. The right CSP solution supports your organization’s ability to protect documents that are in use, in transit or at rest. Other forms of security measures can come in the form of digital signatures, version control or password security policies to reinforce solid procedures and mitigate risks.