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Four best practices for eliminating data chaos and information silos in 2021

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If 2020 taught us anything, it’s just how imperative agility is for quickly reacting during uncertain times. Many organizations had to “pivot” their business models, invent new products and service delivery approaches, rethink supply chains, and revise strategic plans drawn up just months ago in order to survive. There’s also little doubt that 2020 exposed the performance gap between companies that have modernized their IT infrastructure and the ones who are still relying on legacy on expensive and clunky on- prem systems.

In 2021, businesses will continue to be challenged with providing employees (regardless of where they’re working from) with quick access to information that resides within their various internal business applications and databases. Massive amounts of structured data and unstructured content often reside within multiple and disconnected platforms, applications, repositories, and devices. In addition to the security and compliance issues this presents, it creates a situation where employees often struggle to quickly find the accurate and most up-to-date versions of files and records. This struggle, made worse by the sudden shift to telecommuting due to the pandemic, forced enterprises to rethink how their teams work together.

The reality is that there will be no immediate return to large, open offices, noisy cubicle farms, and conference rooms. The demand for collaborative platforms, like Google Workspace, will accelerate as they become central to a company's ability to operate efficiently. Modern collaboration tools and content services platforms that allow teams to work together on the same single version of a document, spreadsheet, or slide deck—with each contributing simultaneously to the content—will increasingly become the bedrock of a company’s ability to effectively manage documentation from every department, including legal, financial, HR, and more. These platforms have become a clear competitive differentiator, especially when compared to the outdated traditional model where each person works separately on their own copy of the document and contributes to the sprawling chaos of countless copies and versions residing in disconnected systems and applications.

It’s imperative that organizations establish rules of engagement and best practices for the use of content and collaboration platforms in 2021. Four key principles that can guide these best practices include:

  1. Embrace cloud collaboration—Using a modern, cloud-native approach to content management (and not one based on using siloed on-premises systems and repositories), means document, files, and records can be accessed and synced between various systems and devices with no duplication of content. Unlike legacy solutions, these more modern systems eliminate information silos and break down the barriers between employees and their information, no matter what device they’re using or where they’re working from. This allows structured and unstructured content to be freed from the confines of applications, platforms and information silos. Regardless of where it resides, users can quickly and easily find and use the information they need to help them perform better, make more informed decisions and provide greater value to customers.
  2. Integrate content applications—Harmonizing information management across an organization via a centralized hub that connects content residing in a company’s existing applications, platforms, and information silos to ensure that the right content is in the right hands at the right time. By leveraging APIs and connectors, enterprises can not only seamlessly integrate a modern content services platform with their existing systems and repositories to make information easier to find across the company, but they can also enrich information in their native systems to drive a deeper level of analytics and insights. This integrated and connected environment provides employees with the ability to find the single source of truth—regardless of where it actually resides—while also delivering insight that can drive critical business decisions, provide a competitive advantage, improve customer satisfaction, and drive the bottom line.
  3. Secure data assetsData security always needs to be a priority. However, it can be a bit of a tightrope act to balance strict enforcement of security policies with providing an open, accessible platform that allows the unfettered flow of data and information across the company and with external third-party partners. Cloud-based platforms meet industry-specific requirements and also provide the foundation for enforcing strict control over compliance and data security. The ability to manage document access and privileges, as well as the importance of detailed audit trails, allows companies to control the flow of information without hindering access or causing bottlenecks.
  4. Empower employees—Content services platforms provide other tangible benefits beyond content access, sharing, and workflow. These platforms also empower employees to access and set up workflows themselves, rather than having to rely on IT to configure it for them. This allows remote teams to take control of their workday to be more productive, and productive employees are not just assets to the organization, they make a positive impact on the bottom line as well. In this new digital workplace, employee productivity and success are more accurately measured by modern project management metrics, and not in the number of hours an employee has been logged in. Modernization has immense benefits, and as companies “lean in” and embrace change they’ll realize it was well worth the effort.

Beyond better and more efficient teams, modern content services platforms that foster open collaboration and secure access to documents are highly effective at eliminating information silos and breaking down the barriers between employees and the information they need to drive growth, value, and innovation.

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