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The best cloud KM combines cutting-edge technology with smart oversight

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Good governance is paramount

With so many apps and features to take advantage of—and more added every day—it’s easy for an enterprise cloud environment to feel messy and confusing to a casual user. Organizations that lack strong oversight can end up with a shifting hodgepodge of sites and tools that employees don’t understand and can’t navigate. For this reason, it’s vital to establish rigorous governance structures to guide and manage cloud deployments.

Most organizations participating in APQC’s survey manage their cloud-based platforms using either a centralized model, where both oversight and implementation are centralized, or a hybrid one, which pairs central oversight with decentralized implementation. Fully decentralized models, where oversight and implementation are handled by business units or other subgroups, are less popular (Figure 2).

When we look at outcomes, those with hybrid management models have a clear edge in terms of meeting their intended goals for cloud-based content and collaboration.

Centralized oversight allows organizations to present users with a consistent strategy and experience and minimizes silos between different pockets of the business. If everyone is using the same tools the same way, it’s easier to enable seamless collaboration and sharing across groups.

One area where active oversight is particularly important is authorizing new sites and groups to be added to the cloud environment. The ease with which users can create sites and groups in the cloud is a double-edged sword, and 58% of survey respondents said that the proliferation of cloud-based sites and groups is a challenge. However, organizations that require approval for most or all new sites, teams, and groups tend significantly more to report that their cloud initiatives are meeting intended goals. Employees at these organizations are also happier with the enterprise collaboration capabilities provided in the cloud.

While centralized governance helps keep things consistent and organized, the decentralized implementation component of hybrid management gives functions and business units some flexibility to adapt cloud infrastructure to their needs. It also allows each part of the organization to market cloud adoption in a way that will resonate with its respective audience. Sales teams use content repositories and chat tools differently than R&D does, for instance, and the groups may need alternative business rules for online conversations and retention policies for critical content. Furthermore, researchers and salespeople have different use cases for using cloud tools, so the necessary messaging and training may vary. Decentralized implementation allows for such variations while keeping everyone part of the same overarching strategy and system.

The bottom line

A defining feature of cloud content and collaboration platforms is that they change rapidly, with vendors adding new apps and capabilities every few weeks. This flux can feel daunting to KM leaders who are accustomed to carefully evaluating and testing every potential change before rolling it out to users. But the advanced technology built into cloud platforms is a feature, not a bug—and KM programs that embrace tools such as automated translation and personalized content recommendations are achieving high levels of success.

That said, rapidly evolving cloud environments can quickly become confusing tangles of overlapping sites and duplicative tools if left unchecked. This is where well-designed policies and robust oversight come into play. Organizations reap the full benefits of cloud KM when they incorporate ?the latest technology but still provide a stable, navigable user experience for busy employees.

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