Do you ever feel like your organization is bursting at the digital seams? As if you have data, content, and files spilling out of folders, applications, and digital storage containers? If so, you aren’t alone. And your problem can be summed up in two words: content sprawl.
What Is Content Sprawl?
Though it might be the first time you’re hearing the term, content sprawl is something we’re all fairly familiar with.
As SharePoint explains, “Content/document sprawl is the dispersed storage of large amounts of content that is produced by organizations on a daily basis. The content can be in the form of documents, forms, images, videos, etc., and includes archives and analytics, and a lot of it is unstructured, old and unused.”
Some content sprawl is totally normal. But excessive content sprawl that’s left unattended can have consequences for businesses and stakeholders. And if you aren’t careful, it can evolve at an exponential rate.
Consider, for example, a PDF document that a member of your team creates. He uploads the PDF to the cloud and saves it to his laptop so he can access it quickly. The employee also emails it to his entire team of 12 people. Half of them make their own copies, while one employee forwards it on to another three people (and so on…).
Now consider that every employee does something like this on a daily basis (often with three to five different pieces of content), and you can see just how rapidly it expands over a week, month, or year.
4 Tips for Addressing Content Sprawl
In most cases, content sprawl comes down to a lack of integration, inconsistency in devices and operating systems (employees using Mac, Windows, Linux, etc.), and the use of multiple mediums and solutions (email, social media, intranet, etc.).
If you want to mitigate content sprawl, you have to do something as soon as possible. Here are some ideas:
- Simplify Information Management for Users
One of the biggest issues with content sprawl is how it complicates the user experience. As the platforms, apps, folders, drives, and repositories increase, so does the confusion. From where to store and access certain files to how they should be formatted, uploaded, accessed, or secured, confusion becomes commonplace.
One of the best ways to avoid this confusion is to consolidate and simplify information management. It’s time to get over the notion that more is better and to zero in on simplistic content storage solutions that standardize the experience for all end users.
- Switch to a Cloud Content Management Solution
One of the best ways to simplify and streamline is to make the switch to a cloud content management solution, also known as CCM.
“With integration-friendly architectures, CCM solutions make it possible to integrate with all other productivity and process-specific applications across the business,” cloud content management provider Box explains. “In this way, CCM acts as a secure hub for the massive and fast-growing library of unstructured content throughout the whole organization, without requiring users to move content to and from different systems just to use it in business processes.”
- Complete Regular Content Audits
It’s wise to conduct regular content audits – ideally quarterly, but definitely on an annual basis.
A content audit is basically a standardized process of cataloging all content and data on your servers (cloud or physical) to determine what’s useful and necessary. If something is neither useful nor necessary, it can be eliminated.
- Have Dedicated Intranet Managers
It doesn’t matter if your business has ten employees or 1,500; you need a dedicated internet manager. This individual is tasked with refreshing your intranet as needed and adding new content to remain current.
Can’t afford an intranet manager? Make sure at least one person on your team is tasked with overseeing your platform. This should be one of their top priorities.
The problem with content sprawl is how it proliferates. The increase in content sprawl is far from linear – it’s exponential. Thus, the longer you wait, the greater your risk of digging a hole that you can’t escape. Now is the time to regain control by addressing content sprawl once and for all. Try implementing the tips outlined in this article and see where they take you.