We are very pleased to see SharePoint evaluated as a Leader in The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Content Management—Business Content Services, Q2 2017. As Forrester noted:
Microsoft instigates content-in-the-cloud with a focus on SharePoint Online. Microsoft’s launch of SharePoint 2016 and ongoing investment into Office 365 and SharePoint Online has proved to be a significant catalyst in enterprises’ decisions to move their enterprise content to cloud services. Support for hybrid deployments continues to be an area of focus, supporting firms adopting cloud in a phased approach, or for specific use cases. Microsoft’s FastTrack migration program, as well as its partners, provides a range of options for customers that want to move documents out of their own in-house data centers or on-premises SharePoint sites. Microsoft has a clear cloud-first vision, and has invested in eliminating the scalability barriers that challenged older, on-premises SharePoint editions. Microsoft continues to work to improve one-stop governance tools, such as common eDiscovery and legal holds across the Office 365 stack. Collaboration, including analytics and social graphing is a major area of focus and investment.
These are interesting times for enterprise content management (ECM). Industry thought leaders have noted the shift from archives for decades-long content retention, to agile collaboration-centric cloud toolsets that also empower security and reuse.
Forrester has been tracking this shift from traditional ECM to what they call business content services. Business content services emphasizes content creation, policy and reuse—but remains distinct from transactional, high volume content services (like those that support credit card processing). Microsoft, through Office 365 and SharePoint Online, has also been at the forefront of the charge.
We’re excited about Forrester’s report, and encourage you to browse and download the full report.
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Introducing SharePoint content services
Our pivot to content services began at Ignite 2016 in Atlanta, where we presented a breakout session on SharePoint ECM. You can watch the entire session below:
Shaping and controlling content from creation to final disposition means many different things. We think it’s important to define our terms. Enterprise content management needs to adopt a holistic approach to managing the entire lifecycle of document creation, sharing, consumption, reuse, knowledge and records management, archiving and disposal.
That’s why we believe it’s time to reflect the changes in how content is created, shared, sustained and reused. Content services reflect a more focused suite of empowered capabilities than traditional ECM, and represent the next wave in ECM.
Content services is people-centric, allowing for personal management (copy, move, hashtag) and organizational management (knowledge management, record retention, information lifecycle management). Policy and security protects content at all phases of its life. It’s a core tenet that content should supply business value throughout, instead of after-the-fact management of dormant assets.
What happens when all that content comes into SharePoint? A common, incorrect impression of SharePoint has been that it’s a great tool to manage team content, but you need an “old-fashioned ECM system for scalability” or “true records management.” Neither of those are true today, with SharePoint having incredible scalability of up to 30-trillion documents and up to 12.5 EB in a single SharePoint Online tenant. OneDrive and SharePoint also inherit our Office 365 capabilities to create record and retention policy tags that can be applied to any content (interactively or by matching a known set of content fingerprints).
Principles of content services—create, coordinate, protect and harvest
Content services is as much about document creation as consumption. In many cases, content has become less about static images and reports, and more about dynamic documents that are created and edited many times in their lifespans. This trend is something we call content velocity, where the content picks up velocity as it is created, edited and reused, becoming more valuable, instead of becoming a dormant archive of little value, as was traditionally the case. We view this as an evergreen cycle of authoring, collaboration, control and reuse.
Content velocity means documents need to be “born” managed. Newer SharePoint and OneDrive capabilities are designed to support this:
- Creating a document using Office Lens to share to OneDrive for Business and SharePoint.
- Using the Copy/Move functions to publish that document to a SharePoint team site and its group members.
- Using SharePoint Content Types to assure that new documents are “born” with templates, rich metadata and retention policies.
OneDrive for Business is the best place to store and manage your documents, giving you the “My Documents” concept on any device. As you share and collaborate with others, content evolves and picks up velocity. When final, you can easily bring it to SharePoint for publishing and permanent storage.
Content in SharePoint is maintained in modern document libraries, making it easy to structure graphically rich, dynamic views of content and metadata. SharePoint’s managed metadata service provides a centralized way to tag and classify information. Tagging and customizing the view can all be accomplished from the library home screen, eliminating multiple clicks to open a property editing screen.
Documents in libraries can be easily shared to Office 365 Groups, and reused in other collaborative apps like Microsoft Teams. In addition, Microsoft Flow can be used to automate common actions, like collecting attachments from email or distributing documents for team review.
SharePoint already builds on a long tradition of capabilities supporting information lifecycle governance, records management and eDiscovery. Newer capabilities, developed as part of our ongoing engagement with the entire Office 365 suite, include:
- Information Rights Management—Files can be encrypted using Azure Information Protection/Rights Management Service and can still be used at supported endpoints, including browsers, rich clients and mobile Office clients.
- Office 365 document retention tags—This new capability offered across Exchange, Skype, OneDrive and SharePoint allows an administrator to centrally define a policy tag in the Security & Compliance Center to enforce document retention and deletion policies. Tags can be set through code, default settings or user actions, and can be auto-applied based on sensitive information types or keywords.
- Data loss prevention (DLP)—The Security & Compliance Center provides a central point to define policies for 81 predefined information types, such as EU Financial data, and/or create other custom information types. When these types are detected, users can be advised about the policy, or even automatically blocked from sharing or distributing sensitive information based on the dynamic policy definition.
- Auditing—When combined with unified auditing in hybrid deployments of SharePoint 2016, Office 365 can provide integrated logging of user and administrative actions on content for both on-premises and cloud-based SharePoint and OneDrive locations.
Learn more about our approach to content security in SharePoint and OneDrive by downloading the white paper “File Security in SharePoint and OneDrive for Business.”
Content shouldn’t be saved and stored and managed just to fill up storage space. Traditional ECM often concludes with document disposal or retention. We believe that modern content services are cyclical. Content exists to support a future business purpose, such as providing information on a related decision, explaining a historic context or seeding the next cycle of content creation.
We recognize that effective adoption of SharePoint content services takes some time. At Ignite, we also presented a section on best practices for traditional ECM and modern content services. Please see today’s blog post on the Microsoft Tech Community for more details.
We appreciate the consideration given to our tools by analysts—like Forrester—and are honored that many enterprises are choosing SharePoint as the foundation for content services and digital workplace transformation. We’re already at work planning our next generation of SharePoint content services solutions, and can’t wait to share more with you later this year at our SharePoint Virtual Summit in May 2017 and at Ignite 2017.
SharePoint has long been a strategic platform for collecting and servicing all sorts of content across the enterprise. As part of our ongoing reinvention of SharePoint started in 2016, we’ve begun rolling out enhancements to optimize use and management of content throughout the entire information lifecycle.
We’ll have many more exciting innovations throughout 2017.
—Chris McNulty, senior product manager on the SharePoint team
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