When teams around the world use different platforms to store and access information, costs and complexity can quickly get out of control. Could IBM find a way to manage its content more efficiently?
The IBM CIO Office has made shared content management services available from the cloud, giving its people a consistent way to store, access and manage some 11 million digital files and counting.
70%reduction in operational expenses for one division by consolidating legacy systems
Boostscompliance with corporate security standards and data protection regulations
Enhancesstaff productivity and collaboration with easier content access and management
Business challenge story
Taking on the content challenge
Content touches every part of a business, from customer contracts and supplier invoices to advertising videos and social media posts. Crucially, it must be managed properly so people can work at their best. However, it’s all too common for organizations to rely on separate applications for managing information across different teams and departments—a situation that can quickly lead to content chaos.
To help its global teams make the most of massive volumes of information, the IBM CIO Office has been on a mission to transform its corporate-wide content management strategy.
Avi Rakhsha, Manager, Enterprise Content Management at IBM, begins: “We had different lines of business all relying on separate, siloed repositories to store electronic content. This led to inconsistency around document classification and enforcement of IBM legal and data security standards, as well as duplication of files across different repositories. What’s more, configuring and managing all these separate systems was costly and time-consuming.”
He continues: “We wanted to provide a central enterprise content management [ECM] system that teams across the enterprise could use to store and manage electronic files throughout the content lifecycle. The aim was to reduce inconsistency and redundancy, help employees to work more productively with content and make it easier to ensure compliance with data security and protection standards.”
Embracing shared services
The IBM CIO Office realized that a shared services model offered an ideal way to deliver ECM services at scale, while keeping costs and complexity low. As the foundation for the new approach, the organization decided to standardize on a single IBM® FileNet® Content Manager solution.
“Many of our business units were already running their own FileNet Content Manager repositories, and we knew that consolidating to a single platform would allow them to get even more out of it,” recalls Avi Rakhsha. “FileNet is also a very versatile platform: it can be used to store practically any kind of content and, from our experience, it is relatively straightforward to adapt the software to meet different needs.”
The organization uses IBM Content Foundation on Cloud to provide users with all of the capabilities of FileNet Content Manager, but with the additional benefits of being hosted on SoftLayer® and fully managed by IBM Cloud Content Services. The main production instance is based at a data center in the UK, with a backup location in Germany.
“Our operations in Europe must adhere to very strict EU regulations around data storage and protection, one of which requires that data must physically reside within Europe,” notes Avi Rakhsha. “For that reason, we opted for a SoftLayer data center in the UK.”
The IBM CIO Office provides the solution to different areas of the business as a managed service, taking advantage of Content Navigator to provide all employees with unified access to digital content, as well as a host of case management, workflow and records management tools. The organization also uses IBM Watson® Content Analytics to enable cloud-based enterprise search capabilities.
As part of the initiative, the IBM CIO Office has established a center of excellence for FileNet Content Manager, which provides expert resources and support so business units can get up-and-running on the platform quickly and easily.
Avi Rakhsha states: “We have established a rapid onboarding method that enables the business to start making use of FileNet Content Manager as fast as possible. We also provide development, architecture and administration experts that our adopters can leverage as project consultants. These kinds of skilled resources can be hard to come by otherwise, and having ready access to FileNet experts helps business units avoid common implementation mistakes and ensure their environment is fully compliant with development standards and corporate policies.”
Groups across IBM have been eager to embrace the new shared services approach. One of the platform’s earliest adopters was the IBM Corporate Archives team, which uses FileNet Content Manager as the core repository for tens of thousands of digital assets, including internal communications, videos and historical photos.
Jamie Martin, Corporate Archivist at IBM, elaborates: “IBM FileNet Content Manager has been a great fit for our needs as an archiving team; we can store all of our digital assets in a single location and retrieve them when needed. Working with the center of excellence has helped us to customize the core platform to meet our unique requirements; for example, we’ve created a thumbnail view for our image library that makes it much quicker and easier to search for images.”
She adds: “We’ve been very impressed with the quality of support from the center of excellence. In Archives, our needs can often be unconventional, and the IBM team has been more than willing to find ways to adapt FileNet Content Manager to our requirements and lend support when we need it.”
The shared ECM platform is delivering positive results around records management and compliance. Here, teams make use of FileNet Content Manager as a core repository for a range of documentation, from contracts to invoices, and take advantage of IBM Enterprise Records in the cloud to establish centralized retention policies and rules for these files.
Alan Chung, Executive IT Architect at IBM, explains: “When it came to managing retention policies in the past, people from different areas would often perform the same reviews and validations in parallel without knowing it. Today, we are working in a much more transparent and collaborative way, thanks to the new shared services model. Now that all the documentation we need is in one location, and we have a standardized way of enforcing retention policies, we have eliminated the duplication of effort that used to occur.”
IBM is also taking advantage of the cloud-based platform to store and manage contract and invoice documents. The company is in the process of migrating contracts and invoices for Europe-wide operations to the shared FileNet Content Manager repository. Ultimately, it has ambitions to consolidate invoicing and contract documents from its global business onto the same cloud platform.
Jelmer Boersma, Senior Manager of Global Accounts Receivable at IBM, states: "Two of the key things that appealed to us about FileNet Content Manager were its ability to provide fine-grained security access and its capacity for handling large volumes of data.
“The new platform helps us to comply with data privacy and sharing regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation [GDPR], while still enabling flexible access to our content. So while the original digital assets may physically reside in different datacenters around the world, our teams can access them all from one shared repository in the cloud—anytime and anywhere. The cloud allows us to abstract away all that complexity, and empower end-users with quick, easy access to the content they need.”
In the near future, the Global Accounts Receivable group at IBM plans to take advantage of IBM Watson Content Analytics to add enhanced search capabilities to its ECM environment, enabling users to search both metadata and the contents of individual documents. The group is also considering introducing IBM Navigator Mobile to give users access to information from their mobile devices.
Getting everyone on the same page
Shared ECM services are helping IBM to build greater economies of scale and free up resources, all while eliminating the need for individual lines of business to invest in costly infrastructure and ongoing maintenance.
Avi Rakhsha remarks: “With every new organization or individual project team that adopts the shared service, the cost of that service is reduced thanks to economies of scale. And those same business areas avoid the expense and effort of having to configure, deploy and manage their own IT systems.”
Alan Chung adds: “We have consolidated two of the three separate FileNet Content Manager systems to a single, shared instance. We will no longer have to go to the expense of installing, hosting and maintaining all of those systems ourselves; everything is handled by the center of excellence. We firmly expect to cut operational costs by more than 70 percent once we have completed the consolidation.”
By bringing together enterprise content in a single, centralized location, and establishing a consistent approach to classifying and controlling that content, IBM is empowering its employees to work faster and more productively. Additionally, with individual teams freed from many core IT administration tasks, they have more time to focus on strategic work.
Avi Rakhsha concludes: “Moving to a shared content foundation allows our teams to get the best value out of their information assets. People spend less time dealing with content access, retention policies and underlying systems; they are free to focus on engaging with content and making the most of it. With shared ECM services in the cloud, our business is unlocking new ways to boost growth, agility and efficiency—helping IBM run better.”
About Office of the CIO
The IBM CIO Office drives change, innovation and efficiency within the enterprise by ensuring the company’s IT operations are responsive, resilient and secure enough to keep pace with ongoing changes in technology and business requirements.
- Content Foundation on Cloud
- Enterprise Records (IER, RM)
- FileNet Content Manager
- IBM Navigator(SaaS)
- Watson Content