Managing information in Office 365 – the 5 keys to success

Atle Skjekkeland


Information is the new “oil” for the digital age that can be used to add value, minimize risks, reduce costs, and identify new opportunities. But information is often locked down in multiple data and content silos. The implementation of cloud platforms like Office 365 is an opportunity to change this and turn information into an asset while ensuring compliance and security. This requires a new information management approach for a new era.

My old colleague Hanns Kohler-Kruner’s team at Gartner said a few years ago: “Enterprise Content Management is dead, long-live Content Services Platforms”. It doesn’t make sense in the cloud era to install a new information silo based on purpose (e.g. publish to web) or value (e.g. records management). Organizations need instead platforms that manage information with apps and components on top of it. Here is a summary of this:

Legacy Enterprise Content Management

– On-premise

– Multiple content silos based on usage or value

– Performance challenges when integrating silos

– Poor findability and control

New Content Services Platforms

– Cloud platform stores or manages the content

– Information assets are managed in-place

– Business applications or components leverage the content in the platform

– Elimination of siloes improves search and control

McKinsey seems to agree. They recommend organizations to move to platforms to better support digital transformation initiatives (see below image). Records management and compliance is part of the platform, not a separate system.

A common platform better connects people, information, and knowledge. Improved access to information improves collaboration, knowledge sharing, and often the rate of innovation. Information becomes an asset to add value, minimize risks, reduce costs, and identify new opportunities.

But how do you ensure information security and compliance? The key is not SharePoint Online, but Microsoft Advanced Data Governance to simplify and automate records management across Office 365 and beyond (compliance by design), and Microsoft Information Protection to simplify and automate information protection across Office 365 and beyond (sensitive files can´t be printed, can´t be downloaded, etc.). This is also an opportunity to reduce operational costs. As an example, the annual costs of Microsoft Advanced Data Governance (included in the E5 license) for 20,000 staff is often way less than the annual cost of a leading Enterprise Content Management system for 2,000 staff.

Several of our large clients operating in highly regulated industries have already found this to be the best way to manage content and records in the cloud era. Here are the key technical components that needs to be put in place to ensure success:

1. Ensure all new Office 365 SharePoint sites created manually or automatically from Teams, Stream, Planner, or Yammer get default metadata added to them. Information stored on these sites will then automatically inherent relevant metadata.

2. Configure search to use metadata for progressive filtering of search results. This makes it easier for staff to find relevant information across your enterprise.

3. Office 365 Advanced Data Governance to simplify and automate in-records management based on metadata and/or machine learning

4. Microsoft Information Protection to simplify and automate information security and protection, e.g. sensitive files can’t be downloaded, printed, or shared externally.

5. Migrate information from shared drives and legacy content management systems to Office 365 to improve access and control, but also reduce operational costs and risks.

Here are some ways we can help you manage information on the O365 platform:

– Opportunity Assessment

– Strategy

– Technology Roadmap

– Governance Framework

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