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Today's applications are saying to content: "don't just sit there, do something!".

Enterprise content management (ECM) has become far more than a way to store documents. Content is now being put to work in more proactive ways, to support marketing initiatives, foster customer engagement or ensure compliance. Partly as a result of that expanding use of content, the global ECM market is expected to grow more than 16 percent per year from 2013 to 2019, according to Frost & Sullivan (frost.com).

Siemens Enterprise Communications (siemensenterprise.com), a joint venture of The Gores Group (gores.com) and Siemens AG (siemens.com), provides integrated communication systems for voice, video, collaboration, mobility, contact centers and network infrastructure. With a large range of products and a global network of partners that market them to users, the company places a high priority on keeping the partners up to date on all aspects of its offerings. However, because that information was being maintained by each partner separately, it was not always consistent or current.

To ensure accurate and timely content on the websites, Siemens Enterprise Communications opted to coordinate the content distribution centrally. "Many of our resellers are small organizations," says Robin Pilcher, head of global channel marketing for Siemens Enterprise Communications, "and they simply did not have the resources to maintain the content relating to our solutions." To support that approach, the company deployed Content Syndication, a solution from TIE Kinetix (tiekinetix.com). TIE Kinetix also provides e-commerce, business integration, business intelligence and supply chain solutions.

The first step that Siemens Enterprise Communications took was to syndicate the delivery of various types of content to the resellers' websites, including product data, reports from analysts and white papers. In addition, Siemens provided tools such as savings estimators that let prospective customers see how much the solutions could save their businesses. "Providing comprehensive information about our solutions in the reseller's website meant that Web visitors were less likely to have to leave the site for additional information," says Pilcher. "They were much more likely to stay on the site and ultimately, more likely to buy from that same reseller."

Realizing the value

Deploying the syndication solution involved specifying the data source from Siemens Enterprise Communications, and having each partner embed a small HTML script in their website. "They were up and running in about 15 minutes," recalls Pilcher. "Now, whenever a piece of content such as a brochure is updated, the system automatically pulls it from our content management system and pushes it out to the websites of our partners. It performs complex tasks and yet is simple to use."

Siemens Enterprise Communications has expanded its use of TIE Kinetix Content Syndication since the initial deployment. "We quickly realized the potential of other capabilities offered by the platform, which could help our partners to grow their businesses," Pilcher explains. "For example, we are now deriving considerable value from the extensive analytics. We can see which pages are getting the hits, and offer suggestions about changes the partners can make to further enhance the Web experience for their customers and prospects."

In addition, the company is also employing the ability of TIE Kinetix Content Syndication to support e-mail campaigns. "Our partners can select from 40 different e-mail campaigns, and send the messages to their prospects," Pilcher says. "The e-mails contain links that send the recipient back to the relevant page on the partner's website." Analytics in TIE Kinetix tell the partner whether the recipient has opened the message and clicked on the link and what materials have been downloaded. "TIE Kinetix is not just helping our partners improve their websites but also is driving people to them, and alerting the partner as to what the prospect is looking for," he adds.

Siemens Enterprise Communications is extending its support to the partners by using syndication to "push" important sales, marketing and technical information directly to the partners' intranet. "Normally, the partners would have to come to our portal to find this information," Pilcher explains. "We look at the top 20 percent of content they are seeking out and designate it for distribution. Once it's identified, the TIE Kinetix system will push it out automatically."

Boosting engagement

Recognizing the importance of social media in marketing, Siemens Enterprise Communications has found a way to use TIE Kinetix to further augment its partners' resources. "Our company frequently uses Twitter to update and inform our followers," says Pilcher. "We provide the option for our partners to receive a relevant selection of these tweets that will be sent directly through to their followers on Twitter. If our partners do not have tweets of their own, they can benefit from ours to help them increase engagement with their own followers. TIE Kinetix manages the process of delivering this content."

Making the best use of existing assets is a driver for content syndication. "There is a new desire to author once and have reusability throughout multiple sites or channels," says Alan Weintraub, principal analyst at Forrester (for rester.com). "From a marketing perspective, it makes sense to streamline the process because that enhances productivity as well as effectiveness."

The next generation of ECM products needs to focus on effective distribution channels, according to Brian Tervo, president and CEO of TIE Kinetix North America. "Our products are designed for collaborative content distribution," says Tervo. "We help customers place their assets out on multichannel environments, usually for lead conversion or the purchase process in e-commerce engagement. Content cannot be static, waiting for the user to find it. Content needs to move."

The content distribution carried out by TIE Kinetix's products is collaborative in that it is blended with the content of partners or VARs. "For many high-end purchases, people don't just go to a website and make a purchase," Tervo observes. "Customers need a nurturing process that can orient them to the brand, and one that is merged with local and regional vendor information as well as from the brand being marketed." TIE Kinetix provides a framework through which the local partner can contribute its own dynamic content, which is mixed on the fly with the corporate assets to produce a unique yet consistent Web experience for each site.

Content for compliance

Few industries are as heavily regulated as those involving clinical trials on pharmaceutical products and medical devices. Companies that test those products conduct studies ranging from Phase I trials in which safety is tested on small groups of people, through Phase IV post-marketing trials on large populations. "The strongest cases for ECM are in compliance and productivity," says Forrester's Weintraub. "In the life sciences, the emphasis is on compliance."

Because of the impact on human lives, every aspect of the trial process is monitored, including training, operational procedures and record keeping. Companies engaged in this work must be prepared for audits from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA, fda.gov) on short notice. Providing the necessary documentation requires tight control and ready access to content, as well as an audit trail that reflects the appropriate approvals and processes.

MedTrials (medtrials.com) is a midsize contract research organization that has been managing clinical trials for more than 20 years. Its legacy document management vendor was no longer developing additional capabilities in its product to keep up with changing demands, so MedTrials began exploring other options. "At a certain point we needed third parties to be able to access our documents electronically," says Brian Morgan, COO of MedTrials, "and our system could not do that." MedTrials investigated a range of products from industry-specific solutions to generic ones, and decided that M-Files (mfiles.com) Document Management System (DMS) met its requirements.

The top issues that MedTrials wanted to address were document versioning, ability to define workflows, tight security and effective administration so that teams would have access to the appropriate documents. "Previously we could store documents but did not have workflow capability or digital signatures," Morgan says. Partly because of the highly regulated nature of the industry, companies have been slow to evolve away from paper. "Many of our documents require five or six signatures," he adds, "and it was hard to get people to give up the wet ink signature. But gradually our employees and partners realized that we would achieve savings both in time and cost, without sacrificing security."

Shift to transparency

A typical process might begin with the development of a new standard operating procedure (SOP) governing a process. "As a draft SOP is developed, it is automatically put into the workflow for review and approval, and if it is not reviewed or signed within the timeframe, an alert is sent," Morgan explains. The audit trail provided by M-Files DMS allows managers to review comments of other reviewers, and the senior manager of quality assurance at MedTrials can view a summary of all the documents that are out for signature.

Part of the cultural shift when document management is automated for compliance is that the system provides complete transparency. "In knowledge work, getting a handle on who is doing what can be difficult," Morgan says. "With M-Files DMS, both compliance and productivity are exposed." A reporting module in the software is being used extensively for analysis of compliance procedures to make sure they are complete and accurate.

MedTrials worked with M-Files to develop the initial workflows. "We used a 'train the trainer' approach so that our staff could take over management of the system," Morgan says. "Now changes can be made to the workflows and metadata in house whenever we need to modify the system."

The storage model used by M-Files differs from that of other ECM systems. "Rather than using a folder system in which a copy of the document is stored in a particular location, M-Files shifts the equation and drives the entire system based on 'what' information is rather than 'where' it's stored. We do that with a unique metadata-driven approach," says Greg Milliken, president of M-Files.

Easy access

Documents can be saved by dragging and dropping them into the M-Files vault. The first time a document is saved, the user identifies a few key pieces of metadata and enters a brief description. Documents can be accessed easily in a number of ways. For example, users can conduct a keyword search based on the document's metadata or content, or select a category such as "proposal" and then indicate the customer, date range or another identifier.

Rather than accessing documents via a particular folder, M-Files dynamically organizes and displays documents based on the parameters of the specific search request. That approach enables users to find the right information instantly while making the same document available to all users without creating different file versions and copies. Users can easily bring up a particular document, or all of the documents associated with a client, for example.

M-Files has targeted the compliance space as a key market, but its software can also provide enterprise content management for other uses. "There are products that are specially designed for monitoring quality and compliance in the FDA or ISO environment," Milliken explains. "However, these very specialized compliance products typically are not suitable for managing documents for more general processes such as general review and approvals, or invoicing and contract management. We can address both use cases."

M-Files DMS is designed to balance ease of use with features needed for enterprise-level content management. "At one end of the spectrum are products that allow document sharing through simple cloud-based folder systems, and at the other are high-end, feature-rich but expensive products that have a steep learning curve," Milliken says. "We target the middle ground with a product that is easy to use but still has a robust content management capability."

By Judith Lamont, KMWorld senior writer

Judith Lamont, Ph.D., is a research analyst with Zentek Corp. e-mail jlamont@sprintmail.com
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Author:Lamont, Judith
Publication:KMWorld
Date:Oct 1, 2013
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