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The top 4 content management trends in 2024

Content management trends like generative AI, compliance, workflow automation and cloud deployment can help organizations automate processes and support remote work.

Generative AI tops the list of content management trends for 2024 as vendors and organizations continue to experiment with it across the content lifecycle.

Enterprise content management (ECM) vendors are still in the early stages of GenAI implementation, although some, such as Microsoft, OpenText and Box, plan to expand their features in 2024. However, organizations that use GenAI to streamline ECM processes must ensure their tools adhere to existing security and data privacy policies.

"The potential [of GenAI] is still relatively untapped. So, 2024 will be the year of making this practical [and] reading through the hype," said Cheryl McKinnon, principal analyst at Forrester Research.

To create an effective ECM strategy, content managers should understand the top content management trends for 2024, which include GenAI, compliance and cloud deployment.

1. Generative AI

GenAI affects many aspects of B2B technology, including content management systems. Throughout 2024, content managers can expect ECM vendors to release more GenAI capabilities and improve those already embedded in their offerings, McKinnon said.

A common GenAI use case for ECM includes creating first drafts of textual and visual content. For example, Microsoft Copilot -- the company's latest GenAI offering -- will let SharePoint users design intranet sites using natural language prompts. A user might ask the tool to create an employee directory webpage with a blue and white theme and feature the company logo at the top, and the tool can generate a draft which users can edit.

GenAI also helps users quickly transform content from one form to another, which can help organizations make lengthy documents more digestible. For example, legal teams can use GenAI to turn complex policy documents into abbreviated presentation slides.

Cheryl McKinnonCheryl McKinnon

"I can take [a] big block of text, and in a matter of minutes, translate that into a presentation deck. That might take me a whole morning to do if I was to do it from scratch, but tools like this are able to help us summarize, reformat [and] transform [content] with a few prompts," McKinnon said.

Other uses of GenAI in ECM include improved enterprise search and personalized document recommendations based on a user's past activity and search history. As ECM vendors continue to develop their own large language models and GenAI strategies in 2024, content managers can expect new use cases to emerge.

2. Compliance

Compliance with data privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA has always been an important aspect of ECM. Therefore, organizations that want to implement GenAI for ECM must ensure those tools are compliant with existing access controls, McKinnon said.

Access control can limit certain sensitive information to specific users or departments to minimize the risk of compliance failure. For example, an ECM system might limit employee information to only the HR team. Similarly, organizations must ensure GenAI assistants only give employees information they can access based on their roles or departments.

Additionally, some ECM vendors have begun to implement GenAI capabilities that can retain or add security markings on documents, McKinnon said. For instance, if an employee uploads or pastes a confidential document into a GenAI tool's prompt field and asks it to create a summary, the tool can automatically mark the new document as confidential.

GenAI tools can automate tasks across the content lifecycle, but organizations must understand and address the security risks that come with those tools. Otherwise, a compliance failure could result in legal penalties and reputational damage that outweighs the tool's productivity benefits.

How GenAI will affect content management in 2024

3. Workflow automation

In the past, legacy ECM systems focused primarily on content storage, and IT leaders made most of the decisions around system purchases and implementation. However, workflow automation has become an increasingly important aspect of ECM, so organizations began to involve other business leaders in the decision-making process to identify use cases for automation. For example, an HR rep might find ways an ECM system could automate the creation and sending of onboarding documents to new hires.

To help non-technical users, such as HR reps, design custom workflows themselves, organizations can purchase ECM systems that offer low-code and no-code development capabilities. These tools offer intuitive drag-and-drop interfaces to help business users who lack coding knowledge design workflows.

"If I am a team leader and I just want to build out a simple, three-step approval before something goes out to a client, I should be able to design that simple task system for the people on my team," McKinnon said.

4. Cloud deployment

Organizations have been transitioning from on-premises to cloud-based ECM systems since the 2010s, and content managers can expect this trend to continue into 2024.

"There's still an awful lot of content sitting on premises that needs to be dealt with. So, I think we are going to continue to see that movement to cloud," McKinnon said.

Cloud deployments offer various benefits, such as reduced upfront costs, increased scalability and support for remote work. In 2020, cloud-based ECM systems saw accelerated adoption because they helped support remote workforces amid the COVID-19 lockdowns. Although many organizations have moved back to hybrid or in-office work models, habits and processes from the pandemic continue.

"Even if we're back in the office three days a week, we're still doing a lot of our calls on meeting platforms," McKinnon said.

Most organizations will likely continue to support some form of hybrid work in 2024, which might further accelerate the ongoing move to cloud-based ECM deployments.

Organizations that decide to purchase ECM software should think about top trends, such as GenAI, compliance and workflow automation, if they want to stay ahead of competitors. They should consider a system that offers smooth integrations with existing software, low-code/no-code capabilities and some form of GenAI, according to McKinnon.

"Generative AI is going to continue to be the hot topic. That impacts content in so many different ways across its entire lifecycle in terms of creating, refining [and] transforming it," McKinnon said.

Tim Murphy is associate site editor for TechTarget's Customer Experience and Content Management sites.

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