Digital Parkour: Enterprise Content Management Strategies and the Email Paradigm

Alex Panagides
5 min readFeb 2, 2021

By Donald R Hammons, CCO at mxHero Inc.

As global organizations pursue digital transformation, a key challenge is balancing security and organizational agility while minimizing process friction and risk.

We’ve always been amazed at the fluid movements of those in our culture who have mastered the art of parkour. While the name itself might not be familiar to some, most have seen parkour in the action movies of late, spanning from the James Bond series to the Mission Impossible franchise and even some examples in the Jason Bourne movies of late. Parkour itself is a widely held training discipline using fluid movements that developed from military obstacle course training. Practitioners, called tracers or traceurs, aim to get from one point to another in a complex environment, in the fastest and most efficient way possible. It sometimes involves transitioning from places of height (e.g., a balcony) to lower rungs in the environment or obstacle course, albeit with the fluid human motions of an acrobat.

In thinking about this practice, we see parallels with the efforts many in technology are undertaking to accelerate digital transformation for their organizations. If the rationale behind mastering parkour is to reduce risks, enable fluid movements, minimize friction and increase the velocity of movement– what better cultural benchmark could there be relative to digital transformation?

Most would agree that the heartbeat of an enterprise or agency is, in fact, tied not only to the value of the organization’s human capital and teaming structure but also tied to its inherent digital content and its valuable and underlying data. Every enterprise application, regardless of the specific business purpose it tends to accelerate, is API powered and interconnected in a manner that fuels an organization’s ability to garner the data-centric insights necessary within each step of the application value chain. One fundamental component of such an IT architecture is how content is not only secured, governed, and retained, but how it can be intelligently harvested or exposed to support knowledge worker access at the right time, in the right application space, and on any device, anywhere.

If true from a digital enablement concept perspective, ensuring access to enterprise content in a way that aligns with the cultural parkour paradigm of reducing risk, enabling fluidity for the enterprise, reducing organizational process friction, and increasing velocity — is a critical albeit vital undertaking for the enterprises of tomorrow.

To achieve this transformative change, organizations will continue to need to address the concept of viewing enterprise content platforms as both a content-centric system of engagement and a view of those same platforms as enablers of content from a system-of-record perspective. This approach is, in fact, tied to the proverbial question, “Where within our enterprise should content actually live?” With such a consideration, platform selection within the enterprise will continue to mature as organizations balance the investment ceilings they can undertake against the current state and future innovative potential of backend content management platforms such as Box, Egnyte, Microsoft’s OneDrive, Google Drive and others. Once organizations arrive at the go-forward content platform decision, the transformation continues as they then undertake the approach of harvesting content from various locations within their IT architecture considering legacy archive environments, other storage platforms — many of which may not be officially IT sanctioned, and local device content archives. During the course of such a strategic content consolidation, companies will need content collaboration, security, and workflow capabilities implemented to support the auto-capture of content on a go-forward basis for every business process supported by technology applications within the enterprise. With such a digital go-forward posture and considering the inherent benefits of harvesting legacy content — organizations will not only accelerate their future potential — but they’ll be able to build in the collaboration, security, and compliance capabilities necessary to fuel their growth and output return-on-investment (ROI) outcomes they seek with these same investments.

The proliferation of applications that operate on their own copy of data creates an impossible data security problem. Email is the single most prolific in terms of data sprawl. A better model separates systems into those of engagement and record. In an ideal architecture, apps (systems of engagement) access data stored in a single, well-defended system of record. See The Content Management & Security Paradox — Content Convergence for the Enterprise

Another consideration on this transformative path is the concept of how the future of work and the enterprises of tomorrow will address the challenges with email-centric content. In the email paradigm, some known factoids are visible to most CIO and CISO level executives, including the concepts that pertain to email itself as a primary enterprise and agency security threat vector, the potentially high-cost of retaining legacy email-centric content archives, and the fact that if a holistic strategy is to exist for the enterprise relative to strategic content management, email as a content payload mover and collaboration solution itself is not ideal and must be addressed head-on with such strategies. In fact, it is a threat to digital transformation if not addressed.

Given email’s ubiquitous nature within enterprise and agency IT, simply eliminating it isn’t tenable — at least in the near term. However, disrupting it in a manner helpful to enterprise security and collaboration around content is entirely achievable. One such pivotal move may, in fact, reside in the perspective that email should not be a catalyst for the movement of enterprise content payloads, at least from a content ‘attachment’ perspective. In fact, by extending the platform reach of the leading content management platforms to the email paradigm, firms can realize an even greater impact and ROI outcome metrics for the investment they’re making in these same technology solutions. By eliminating incoming and outgoing email attachments in favor of authentication-bounded secure URL links, organizations can drive collaboration around that same content to the very platforms which were purposely built to fuel such endeavors. If that can be achieved using prescriptive workflow and content capture configurations (e.g., inbound vs. outbound), handled from a server-side cloud-based architecture (vs. desktop software applications), and if it can be achieved from a change management perspective with little to no impact on end-user email behaviors — the value proposition becomes quite compelling. Furthermore, if such solutions can be implemented in hours — not days or weeks and with little IT overhead specific to implementation — it is a win for the shareholders and for the stakeholders of those same organizations.

Parkour is a cultural phenomenon, and it is exciting to see. In fact, it has emerged as a sport of its own and may even be a showcase sporting event at the upcoming Olympic Games. If the true nature of the sport is to fuel competitiveness, decrease risk, minimize friction and create an opportunity for human agility, it seems those same benchmarks apply to the very strategies firms are now undertaking specific to enterprise content management and its underlying data. We believe email content capture should be a viable consideration as such — within the underlying obstacle course that is enterprise digital transformation.