Many individuals and organisations, both private and government face monumental tasks in storing and retrieving vital records pertaining to their operations. In some organisations, even finding a document, video, photograph, drawing, audio recording that was referred to a week back can prove to be a daunting task
On top of the above hassle, physical records in whatever form are subject to destruction through channels such as theft, fire, termites, storm water and natural degradation
Since 2000, with increased storage capacity on PCs and laptops, a new trend emerged where documents are kept in softcopy to hard drives on desktop computers and servers. Other files that are available in formats such AutoCAD, MP4, JPG, etc. were archived to locally deployed computers but this faced other challenges such as:
Inability or difficulties in sharing stored content among stakeholders
Segregation of content to ensure only authorised users access specific content
Risks associated with system collapse
Risks associated with theft or vandalising the computer where data is stored
ARRIVAL OF ELECTRONIC CONTENT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE (ECMS)
Around 2007, a new technology emerged where several authors brought on board electronic content management systems to answer the challenges posed above. Some of the features of ECMS are:
The system is web based so the user does not know where the server is. This enhances security;
The system is based on virtual storage libraries that replicate a filing cabinet but are only visible as links;
The content stored is encrypted, so it is not easy to access by unauthorised people;
Use of metadata (data about data) makes it possible to search for and retrieve a file among similar content in under one second!
There is version control and tracking for editable content with accurate tagging of versions to the author;
Integrated workflow and tasks assignment makes it not only a content manager but enables collaboration among users through group work such as bid evaluations, approval of activities, reports, invoices etc.;
Anonymous portals are used in publishing unsecured content such as news, adverts and activity calendars for organisation. This information is available to users with no user access license
Subscriptions enable users to book content in advance so that the system emails them when there is new content in the category of interest;
Tight Access Security provides for content segregations such as No access, List only, Read Only, Read & Edit, and Full Access that includes the power to delete content;
A High-Level Activity Audit Trail tracks all user activities therefore holding users responsible for what they do.
TYPICAL USAGE SCENARIOS
ECMS come handy for some of the cases listed below and more:
Content storage and backup for organisations struggling with storage space for their records;
Business automation in organisations that execute document-based automated business functions such as:
Knowledge management systems for training providers where knowledge in the form of documents and videos, examinations, etc. can be hosted for access by subscribing users who are given unique user name and password on payment of subscription;
Cloud hosting of content where small organisations and individuals who cannot afford their own stand-alone systems contract a service provider to securely host their data.
Secure hosting of content that can be backed up and stored on remote sites for disaster recovery;
Concurrent access to the same content users without the need to print or photocopy thus saving a lot in printing, photocopying and time-related costs;
Extensive reduction in storage space and costs as the physical space of a server is much less than that occupied by a single filing cabinet;
Ability to access content from anywhere in the world where there is internet access, enabling users travelling away from offices to access critical content and task assignments;
Availability of the system on any device with a browser such as smart phones and iPads.
By Eng. Darlington Sakwa;
Mob.: +256 777 912 301