Why content sprawl has CIOs running scared

In recent years there’s been a major shift in technology and capability around the content and process space.

Jon Palin

Emerging and advancing technologies are driving the exponential growth in the amount of content an organisation is creating and retaining. This growth is creating unmanaged silos often containing terabytes or even petabytes of information. The complexity and size of these silos continue to grow daily, causing issues for users trying to simply get their work done, and major headaches for CIOs, Risk Officers and Records Managers – whose job it is to maintain corporate knowledge.

For an agency in the public sector, governance of information is crucially important– not only for the simple reason of efficiency, but because government needs to be able to demonstrate what decisions are being made, and how they are begin made. While many agencies continue to deliver upon a rigorous information governance policy within their corporate EDRMS, the surge of information being created in disparate systems means there is an unknown quantity of content simply out of sight of the people whose job it is to manage it.

Enter the age of content sprawl

What was once neatly contained content is now likely to go through multiple applications within an agency – what’s known as content sprawl.

In a nutshell, content sprawl describes the unmanaged growth of an organisation’s content assets into an unwieldy and unmanageable mass.

For example, agencies could find themselves wrestling with content in their corporate EDRMS, but also across a plethora of solutions from file-sharing platforms, email, MS Teams, ticketing systems, ERP systems, financial repositories or just a network drive.

This idea of content sprawl is very immediate because CIOs know how many repositories they’ve got, but they have no idea what’s in some of these systems. It’s the fear of the unknown that’s driving them.

Chief Product Officer Jon Palin

Content sprawl isn’t just messy – it also has security implications. If no one knows where information is or the nature of the content that’s being held, something as simple as a malware attack potentially could cripple a public sector organisation. Content sprawl also contributes to the redundant obsolete trivia (ROT) that an organisation must administer. How can you successfully say you have disposed of specific content if you do not know everywhere it resides?

“There’s been this shift away from governing information in just in one repository, to ‘how can I govern the information in all of these different places without putting an overhead on our users,” says Objective’s Chief Product Officer Jon Palin.

“I want my staff to keep working in Microsoft Teams and Salesforce, but as a risk officer, as a CIO, I want to have oversight and make sure I know exactly what’s happening and have a really clear record of what’s in these systems.”

Objective recently conducted a series of in-depth interviews with CIO’s from agencies, across levels of government. Irrespective of the CIO being based in Australia, New Zealand or the UK, the message was clear: they’re worried.

“The idea of content sprawl actually really scares CIOs,” Palin says. “This idea of content sprawl is very immediate because they know how many repositories they’ve got, but they have no idea what’s in some of these systems. Its the fear of the unknown that’s driving them.”

Taming content sprawl

This year Objective is offering a new product designed to manage content sprawl.

Purpose-built for complex environment with massive amounts of information, Objective3Sixty connects information sources across an agency so they can be discovered, organised and managed from a single control centre.

It gives users the ability to tag information, manage records in-place and transfer documents for long term retention, wherever they might reside.

“The whole idea is about taming content sprawl,” Palin says. “We’re saying to organisations, ‘this is a tool where you can start to identify what your current situation is, and go on to discover the content within a full picture of the information throughout your enterprise’.

“People have realised that the goal of getting all of the content, spread across their organisation, into one place is too hard.

“They want the choice of existing solutions, but they also want to manage them.

“ Objective 3Sixty brings a modern, connected approach to corporate information governance – it provides a way to “manage” everything from one place – but leaves content and data in their native systems”.

About Objective

Using Objective software thousands of public sector customers are shifting to being completely digital. Where our customers can work from anywhere; with access to information, governance guaranteed and security assured.

Australian owned and ASX listed, Objective has continually invested significantly in the ongoing development of products that deliver outstanding solutions to the public sector and regulated industries. This includes organisations such as the Australian Defence Organisation, both the Welsh and Scottish Governments, NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet and the ACT Government.

Objective 3Sixty is the latest addition to the Objective content services suite that also includes SaaS EDRMS, workflow and processing tools, governance solutions for both Microsoft Teams and Outlook and secure cloud collaboration. Learn more about Objective 3Sixty here.

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