Business is moving significantly faster, with the objective of continuously improving the customer experience. Because after all, engaging the customer means being able to compete and grow.
As a result, organizations are constantly looking for ways to empower users with access to the data they need to make quick and informed decisions no matter where they are — for example, in the office, at home, or at a customer’s or supplier’s location.
This is why enterprises are rapidly adopting cloud offerings. Doing so enables organizations to quickly realize new levels of agility, cost reduction, scalability, and flexibility — while putting data more effectively in the hands of users.
However, not all clouds are built the same or offer the same level of benefits, which is one reason for the ongoing push toward the hybrid model where companies employ a mix of public and private cloud infrastructure. In fact, according to CIO’s 2017 Tech Priorities, 47% of companies plan to increase their hybrid cloud investments.
With hybrid, organizations can gain the flexibility, scalability, and cost efficiencies available within public environments while adhering to stringent regulatory compliance capabilities common with on-premises or private cloud deployments.
The drivers of hybrid ECM
Applied directly to content, the hybrid cloud model reflects what Forrester Research calls today’s “hybrid world of work.” The firm’s Wave report suggests that the “fast delivery of content apps to busy information workers means access and delivery of content from multiple systems.”
Here’s where hybrid enterprise content management (ECM) solutions come into play.
The Association of Information and Image Management (AIIM) defines hybrid ECM this way:
“Hybrid ECM sees the main data repository of information sitting on-premises within an organization – with access to that information from within the firewall operating as a standard on-premises solution. In addition, a cloud-layer exists that provides a collaboration area for selective pockets of information that need to be accessed or shared outside of the organization. This information can only be accessed by authorized users, and these pockets of information are subject to two-way synchronization, ensuring that they are up-to-date and maintained as if they were sitting in the on-premises system.”
These solutions provide quick wins that help organizations stay on target to meet business goals and user expectations. For instance, companies can keep sensitive information on premises, while providing quick access to public cloud services for less mission-critical data.
Another key driver for hybrid ECM is the ability to empower mobile workers. Companies are increasingly seeking to design and develop applications and services with mobile devices in mind. This trend will only increase as more organizations embrace flexible work environments.
Giving remote and mobile workers quick access to data, no matter where they are – in the office or working remotely — boosts the organization’s efficiency and productivity. ECM solutions need to be able to provide easy-to-use, yet robust mobile apps for smartphones and tablets that enable on-the-go functionality, even when workers are not connected to the company network.
At the same time, security must remain a priority. The most critical data in a hybrid ECM solution should always remain on premises, allowing the organization to maintain effective, policy-based data administration to reduce risk and to facilitate compliance.
A properly deployed hybrid ECM solution enables remote access, without negatively affecting the stringent data security and compliance requirements in tightly regulated industries, where unauthorized access to personally identifiable information could be severely damaging. Security can be handled via a mix of password and swipe authentication methods, depending on compliance guidelines.
Finally, before embracing a hybrid ECM solution, it’s important to ensure that it provides access without compromising regular content-management features, such as version control and file sync.
To take advantage of the hybrid cloud model for content management, companies must consider the importance of being able to search digitized content that only happens with the seamless integration of data sources, which includes interoperability between point systems, data storage and utilization.
Leading ECM systems integrate easily with an organization’s diverse data sources — many of which are now cloud based — including customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, human resource management, as well as other business applications utilized to provide internal and external customers with exceptional levels of service.
It’s worth considering future possibilities, too. Having a solid hybrid ECM in place could facilitate the enterprise-wide adoption of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. Again the system’s integration capabilities will play a pivotal role here. After all, successful IoT initiatives thrive on the ability of disparate technologies to work as a seamless system, which includes the ability to easily search and utilize data to support business actions.
Case in point: authorized access + protected information
Consider the example of this governmental entity that found itself wasting hours of valuable time on an inefficient, multi-step process of scanning, printing, collating, and distributing documents before every council or planning department meeting. Before each meeting, council members received a large packet of information with the latest plans, proposals, and initiatives. Each packet was comprised of documents from several different sources, taking an average of six hours to assemble.
By empowering authorized users to scan, retrieve, and print files using Evernote and Google Drive cloud storage providers, the city eliminated the need to print, collate, assemble, and distribute hard copies — with the added benefit of the packet being available well in advance of meetings.
Plus, by using a Hybrid Platform for Advanced Solutions (HyPAS), members of the council and planning commission have the ability to use their security credentials to recall and print documents from an array of multifunction printer devices when necessary or add new documents to an open case.
How KYOCERA can help
As a total document solution provider, KYOCERA offers a portfolio of services and solutions to streamline output management. Well beyond providing hardware solutions, KYOCERA empowers organizations with ongoing management, optimization, and lower document costs — all designed to reduce IT department workload and minimize environmental impact.
KYOCERA's solutions, including Network Device Management, Managed Document Services, Mobile & Cloud products, and many others turn otherwise complex data and document workflows into simple, efficient processes that empower highly mobile workforces with secure access.
Peter Fretty is a freelance writer and editor, who specializes in technology and market development.