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A content technology roadmap

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This is a wide range of scenarios. What they have in common is that the processes and applications are all about digitizing and automating relatively localized, typically departmental, applications. The benefits gained are the ones you get by moving off paper and automating (in places) structured or simple tasks. Level 1 is not enterprisewide in scope and it has minimal human interaction that's collaborative in the sense outlined in the description of participation management. There's little collective deliberation, analysis or creation.

Level 2 is moderate enterprise participation. Note that the levels of content and process management stay the same for all levels of participation management. What increases is the number of participants and the complexity of their human interaction. This human interaction complexity may increase in two ways as you move up in levels: 1) by providing not just the simple but the more complex content and process management activities to larger groups of people (you can give all your customers and prospects not just viewing but document editing and approval capabilities if you're inclined) and 2) by providing more specifically participatory capabilities, including both those traditionally provided by ECM tools and those offered in social media tools.

Level 2 does give content and process management to more people in the enterprise than Level 1—even if it's just basic SharePoint for many more departments than Level 1. And it does provide at least some of this bigger group with more complex content and process management—e.g. giving lots of departments standard DM, including good library services, good approval workflow and pretty good records management. But it falls short of giving ECM to everyone in the enterprise. Level 2 is basically the degree of "enterprise" that "enterprise content management" has actually achieved in the last 15 years-rather than the MS Office-type pervasiveness that it aspired to.

Examples of Level 2 applications include collaborative processes like collaborative DM, contract management, project management, underwriting and "classic" case management workflow.

Level 3 is high enterprise participation and low extra-enterprise participation. Level 3 is the first level to introduce the technologies of mobility and social media, and it's the place to start seriously introducing systems of engagement into your organization. It provides the opportunity to fulfill the original promise of all-encompassing pervasive "enterprise" content management with basic file synching and sharing. It also consists of enhancing mature ECM administrative and line of business applications with relatively light mobility and social capabilities, such as mobile devices and electronic clipboards at the end-points to facilitate ingestion and workflow participation.

Level 4 is moderate extra-enterprise participation. This group is more complex than Level 3 because the applications, involving collaborative ECM and social collaboration, are less mature and require more social design and technology. Level 4 applications are appealing because they are some of the best applications for the new social technologies—but they are complex and we strongly recommend that you start with Level 3 before addressing those. Examples include ACM (advanced case management), project portfolio management and CRM applications such as marketing campaign management and customer service using integrated social media.

Level 5 is high extra-enterprise participation. It includes applications that are designed and implemented primarily with engagement technologies and processes. Some organizations have successfully implemented Level 5 applications that are relatively simple in content management and process management—but we have not yet seen any Level 5 participation management applications that also score high in content management and process management.

Each of the participation management levels differs generally in breadth and depth of participation, but more specifically in several other respects that enable the breadth and depth of participation by making it technically feasible or by controlling cost and risk. Those criteria include the devices used (e.g. traditional PCs or mobile); deployment models (e.g. traditional on prem, private cloud, community cloud, mixed cloud, public cloud); service models (e.g. traditional—or infrastructure, platform or software as a service); and other characteristics (e.g. differences in tenancy, flexibility, self-service, pay-by-drink and openness to participation).

Reasons for effectiveness

This model has proven highly effective for planning and managing content technology roadmaps, and here are a few reasons why:

Like all good maps, relative distances provide significant information. Moving a small distance in any direction in the model is less complex and risky than moving a greater distance. Increasing the complexity of your marketing communication creation process by providing modestly more sophisticated library services (content management), providing an approval sign-off system with more structured routing (process management) or providing mobile approval participation to external contractors (participation management) are all incremental movements in the three directions in the map and are thus correspondingly less costly and risky than movements of greater distance.

You can easily specify for any application its current, target and optimal (best possible) position in each of the three dimensions, and define the roadmap to get there from here. This helps you see and communicate how far you can and should improve each process in your organization. Most processes need not and therefore should not go beyond Level 3 in participation management (or similar levels in content and process management).

Since each level is associated with different typical enabling conditions (devices, deployment models and the other characteristics noted previously), it helps planning and management of the introduction of those enablers. When should you seriously address BYOD? When you are moving into Level 3, you'd better have a plan for how to do that.

It clarifies how your governance program must address not just information but also processes and participation. Most "information governance," "information management" and "records management" programs don't do a good job of proactively addressing the challenges associated with participation management. The model  has proven effective in clarifying where and when organizations must insert governance—each time they move to increase content, process and participation complexity

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