SHAKING UP ECM WITH COMPOSABLE CONTENT SERVICES: ONE PLUS ONE EQUALS THREE
The first major shift in enterprise content management was largely heralded by the advent of the cloud. Subsequently, monolithic ECM systems were re-envisioned as a dynamic array of content services.
The next major shift taking place is a natural progression of this development and a reflection of where many enterprises are today because of the cloud’s ubiquity. Content services are increasingly becoming composable, providing an almost unlimited assortment of interchangeable modules for organizations to rearrange at will to suit their particular needs.
Composable content services involve several different characteristics, including the following:
♦ Architecture: With the cloud as the de facto architecture of choice for composable content services, there is a premium for utilizing constructs for easy integration between services such as “connectors, standard REST APIs, and JSON,” said AODocs CEO Stephan Donze.
♦ No-code/low-code applications: The capacity to readily interchange any number of content management services with low-code methods is critical for assembling composable applications. “The idea is really to democratize the application development to citizen developers at the department level, who are more intimate with the business applications and the workflow logic,” said Linda Ding, director of strategic marketing, Laserfiche.
♦ Composable AI: The capability to swiftly modularize any variety of AI offerings is integral for helping firms deliver much needed structure to the surplus of unstructured data found in documents, forms, images, and videos. “Intelligent document processing [IDC] is a natural evolution of traditional capture methodologies,” said Kyle Adams, senior staff partner architect at Box.
Composable content services enable the rapid composition of processes, applications, and workflows with an unmatched flexibility for fulfilling traditional objectives—such as accessing content where it’s needed to support business functions while adhering to data governance and regulatory protocols.
However, it does so with a definite end-user focus in which all content services are adaptable modules readily positioned for a highly curated, intuitive user experience granting newfound possibilities for learning from, expediting, and even capitalizing on enterprise content.
According to SER Group CEO John Bates, with this approach, regardless of what sources the modules involve, they can be readily connected to work on the same platform. “So actually, if you use them together, they will leverage off each other and they will learn more than if you built two independent solutions,” Bates said. “Then, one plus one equals three. That’s the next generation of content services.”
Content services are well-suited for the composability precept largely because of their modular foundation, which is fairly uniform. “You need records management, you need a document repository, you need a workflow engine, and you need a presentation layer,” Donze said. However, the crux of coupling these elements with additional modules for AI and tailored application building is connecting them with postmodern cloud techniques. In addition to the standard interfaces Donze mentioned, other means of connecting modules include the following:
♦ Web service calls: Web service calls are an alternative to APIs for exchanging data between sources for composable content services.
♦ Digital agents: Robotic process automation’s intelligent bots are integral to composing workflows with different services. “Bots can pull data from one application by its user interface and ingest that and make it available to a process,” said Kurt Rapelje, director of strategic partnerships at Laserfiche.
♦ Database lookups: This approach buttresses the low-code tenet for composing applications. “Any kind of custom code that needs to be extended by a professional developer beyond the citizen developer’s capability—we offer scripts supporting that,” Rapelje noted.
With these methods, organizations can readily compose workflows and applications from a broadening array of sources for traditional enterprise content management use cases such as document management and onboarding new employees.
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