Implementing an enterprise content management (ECM) strategy used to be a complex, tedious process. Getting started meant filtering through thousands of documents and creating formal policies, guidelines, and organizational procedures defining how those documents could be used.
For instance, one file — such as a sales deck used by many sellers — might have an official policy about:
- Where the master file should be kept.
- What metadata should be attached to the file (for example, author, approval date, update date, category, keywords, etc.).
- How copies of the file can and can’t be used (for instance, sellers may or may not be allowed to download the file to their desktop).
- What content can be modified in the file down to the page and paragraph.
- Who can or can’t access the file.
- Policies for archiving or document retention.
- Who has to review and approve updates.
- And more.
Imagine rules like that applied to hundreds or thousands of files. Modern enterprise organizations have too many files for archaic ECM strategies like this to work.
Thankfully, modern document management tools have also innovated. Now, software integrations and AI-powered search can pull in files across dozens of repositories, read entire files in seconds and organize or serve them quickly and efficiently. This means content governance teams can:
- Spend less time auditing or organizing files.
- Use more flexible guidelines that are easier for employees to follow.
- See wider and more consistent adoption of an ECM strategy company-wide
- Help people find files more quickly and easily.
- Easily apply and track content permission and access rules without manual maintenance.
- Drive better business outcomes as a result.
Below, we’ll show you what a standard ECM strategy might look like, then contrast that with what’s possible using our content management tool, Bigtincan Content Hub.
Note: At the end of this article we discuss how to implement a modern ECM that solves the problems above. Click here to skip forward to this section.
Problems with Standard ECM Strategies: They Take Too Long to Set Up and Require Too Much Maintenance
Here’s what it looks like to implement an ECM strategy the traditional way:
Build an ECM Team
This could mean hiring an expert or re-assigning current employees to manage content.
Audit all organizational content
This can take weeks depending on the size of an organization (see the example below)
Add metadata to all relevant files
Usually each file or piece of content will require at least half a dozen (or more) tags or other metadata attached to them.
Create an organizational structure
Typically this includes creating uniform naming conventions and taxonomy, and identifying a standardized file structure and location that can be accessed by relevant employees across the entire organization
The ECM team has to create formal documentation outlining how files can be used, who can access them, how and when the files should be updated, and who has to review and approve any changes.
Onboard all employees and maintain the system
Finally, all relevant employees have to be trained on how to use the system. Often, an entire ECM team will also have to update metadata and make sure the system is being maintained correctly over time.
This entire process takes weeks to set up at a minimum (or months for large companies), and requires entire teams to maintain. For example, we’ve had clients with multiple full-time hires just managing marketing content before onboarding to Bigtincan — and that’s just one department. Across an entire organization, the challenge is even greater.
Case Study: How an Enterprise Manufacturing Company Spent Weeks on ECM Strategy for Just Two Departments
For example, this whitepaper written by Ramon O’Callaghan and Martin Smits in 2005 perfectly illustrates what it looks like to implement a content management strategy in an enterprise company.
The authors worked with a manufacturing company with 30,000 employees to implement an ECM strategy for two departments — marketing and product development. They started by interviewing several stakeholders from each department to gain buy-in and identify the most important documents to include in the enterprise content management system. From the thousands of company documents, 120 items were selected.
Then, O’Callaghan and Smits worked with department leaders to rate each item on a scale from 0 to 10 based on five criteria:
- Find: Does this content need to be easy to find? (0 = doesn’t need to be easy to find; 10 = it should be extremely easy to find.)
- Distribute: Should this content be easy to distribute?
- Re-use: Does this content need to be re-usable?
- Track: Should this object be easy to track?
- Associate: Does this content need to be associated with other content?
(Note: Get more information on the rating criteria in the full PDF)
The team also rated each item based on how hard it would be to maintain. For example, they’d ask: “What’s the value of making this item findable?” Then, “How many resources will it require/what will it cost to make it easily findable?”
In a nutshell, the team wanted to determine: “Will it be valuable to our organization to include this document in our ECM system? If yes, will that value outweigh the cost of storing and maintaining it in the system?”
Then, the files that made it to the final step were categorized, metadata was appended to them based on the five criteria, and they were placed into a file organization system.
After all this work, they only organized 120 content objects in 2 departments. An additional 20 terabytes and 15 million intranet pages went untouched.
Implementing a strategy like this across an entire organization comes with enormous financial and human resource costs. It’s just not sustainable.
How to Use Bigtincan to Implement a Modern ECM Strategy (without Spending Hours Updating Metadata)
Bigtincan Content Hub was designed to let content managers automate entire sections of a content governance and records management practice. This allows companies to spend less human resources on managing files, improve governance adoption rates and make it easier for customer-facing departments to spend less time looking for files, and more time working with customers.
Below we’ll discuss the key features of Bigtincan that make it easy to implement an ECM strategy, then we’ll show you specifically what the new business processes would look like after using Bigtincan.
Integrate with All Company Repositories So All Content Is Accessible from a Single Platform
Bigtincan integrates with Box, Microsoft SharePoint, Google Drive, Dropbox, and any other repository in your organization’s content ecosystem. This allows Bigtincan to act as a central, cloud-based location for all important files, without users having to copy and paste those files into a new location. That means departments and teams that used to using Box or Google Drive can continue to do so, and all of their content will still be indexed and accessible through Bigtincan.
For example, instead of picking one new SharePoint location and saying, “this is where all official documents must go,” Your teams can continue using the workflows they’ve always used, and count on Bigtincan AI to pull the appropriate documents into one central location.
Integration across company repositories also enables other powerful features on the Bigtincan platform, such as AI-powered search.
Use AI-Powered Search Instead of Endless Metadata
Bigtincan’s AI-powered search engine automatically can search all connected repositories and perform full-text search of any file — even scanned in PDFs. This allows you to digitize entire catalogs or paper file systems and still search through them effortlessly without adding metadata to every file manually.
For example, Bigtincan can automatically pull a file’s author, category, keywords, last update date, published date, and more, so users can still get detailed search results — you just don’t have to update files manually. Plus, Bigtincan AI can even suggest content to a user based on HR and CRM data, such as the user’s role, previously viewed or recently used files, and more.
With this search feature in place, your entire strategy changes, because you can spend far less time and resources updating and maintaining your ECM tools.
Access, Save, and Find Files on Any Device
Bigtincan is fully functional on any device — including AI-powered search — even without internet access, which means:
- End users can find the content they need wherever they are.
- Administrators can track content usage no matter where content is used (more on that later).
Plus, the Bigtincan can even store files on a local hard drive and still pass usage information back to administrators, so they can see what content is being used and how. Now if a seller downloads a deck and keeps using the same file for months (even though it’s outdated), admins will know, and can send an automatic reminder to update the file.
Control File Access and See Usage Analytics
Speaking of file analytics, Bigtincan offers built-in dashboards that show who is interacting with files and how, in real-time, down to the page. This serves many purposes, including:
- Administrators can see old files that are still in circulation.
- Customer-facing teams can see how prospects and current customers interact with files and adjust their interactions accordingly.
- Content creation teams can see which files are being used regularly, or which need updating.
Plus, administrators can control who has access to files and what they can do with them — for example, a master template may not be available for download, but it can be copied. Or, there might be multiple versions of a file for various geographical locations, so Bigtincan will automatically serve the right file to the right user based on their location.
Custom-Tailor Bigtincan Content Hub UI and Functionality to Match your Workflow
Finally, all of the above features can be used on the stock, user-friendly Bigtincan interface, or custom-tailored to match your workflow, down to the pixel.
For example, the images below show two potential implementations of a Bigtincan homepage:
One is optimized to quickly swipe through a vast manufacturing catalog, while the other shows the latest promotions for a retail setting. The two look different, but also offer different functionality — one helps the user dive into a deep catalog, while the other prioritizes upfront information.
So your ECM system won’t be tied to a specific file structure — or any file structure at all, for that matter. You can include visual elements on the same page as a folder, list of files, and more.
Let’s review the archaic enterprise information management process from the beginning of this article and see how easy it is to implement using Bigtincan:
Cut Down on the Size of Your ECM Team
Instead of assembling an entire team to maintain metadata indefinitely, you assign one key person to coordinate integrations and work with the Bigtincan customer success team to set up the platform one time.
Spend Less Time Auditing Content
Content no longer needs to be audited because it can easily be added to Bigtincan. Instead, you can just ask a leader from each department which content is most important, and quickly add more files later if necessary.
Metadata Is No Longer Required
Bigtincan’s AI-powered search and repository integrations completely eliminate the need to tag files, because search is powerful enough to surface files based on topic, deal, theme, or even who the searcher is. So you no longer need to maintain metadata at all.
Your Central Repository Is Created Automatically
Bigtincan pulls files from across an organization into one central repository by default. Now you can just mark a document as “Important” without moving it from SharePoint or wherever it’s currently stored, and that file will automatically be included in a list of important files in the Bigtincan interface.
Onboard and Train Employees with the Help of Bigtincan’s Global Success Team
Because Bigtincan integrates with all of your existing repositories and workflows, you don’t have to create extensive documentation or change how your employees work.
Some onboarding will be required — which is true for any new ECM software — but the Bigtincan Global Success team will help you every step of the way. We’ve successfully deployed content and ECM solutions across many enterprise organizations, including 7 of the Fortune 10 companies, and will help you launch your solution successfully as well.
To see how your organization could use Bigtincan for enterprise content management, book a demo today. We’ll walk through your current content management needs, the Bigtincan product, and show you exactly how it can be custom-tailored for your organization.