Harnessing the Value of Content
By Rob Hanna, President & Co-Founder at Precision Content
Around 2000, we migrated into this era that we called Enterprise Content Management. The content management space grew from a focus on document management and automating mission-critical and transactionally centered information. Most of the content management implementations during this period were very custom, expensive, and complex. The focus was on managing transactions within an organization, not necessarily on the people that were using and creating content and documents.
As the focus shifted from process and technology to people, we started to see an expansion of the number of individuals that touched content management systems within the organization. Fast forward to where we are now. We are in the era of mobile accessibility and cloud computing. The latest technologies are driving process owners to place a premium on creating solutions that account for the configuration, connection, and usability required for successful content management. Together, a focus on people, processes, and technology has informed our approach to Enterprise Content Management.
Who Has the Ball
Making content creation a greater focus for people who are managing content, we need to look at the ways structured content and structured authoring play an important role in enterprise content. A significant challenge in Enterprise Content Management is determining who owns content quality within the organization. The ball is always changing hands. Nobody is ultimately responsible, and no one is more aware of this than the technical writer who’s been part of a technical publications group with a dedicated writing team. Being transferred from division to division, technical writers are exposed to Product Marketing, quality assurance, and software development, falling under a different director or VP, every six months. In this case, nobody owns content quality or the customer experience. This needs to change.
The Content Lifecycle
As information managers, we need to take more responsibility for content quality. Content quality is going to be the next real frontier for advancements in information management. Technology will continue to evolve. But if we don’t look at governance and management of the standards and processes, we’ll never see the advancements in quality content within the enterprise. Within the AIIM community, there is an uneven view of the content lifecycle. It is difficult to see the entire picture.
So here (pictured) we see a typical AIIM content lifecycle, from content creation, organization collaboration search, publishing, and then back to content creation. AIIM has invested in research, technology, training, and certification around each of these critical aspects of the content lifecycle, except for one: content creation.
We’ve invested considerable time, money, and technology in “capture and create”, in scanning and digitization, for example. As a community within AIIM, however, we don’t talk a lot about how content is created. Really, that plays a very critical role in our ability to manage content. We can admit that not all content is created equally. We understand the intrinsic value of structured data within our organizations and we’ve gone a long way to establish a body of research and best practices around data management and data quality. Although we understand these best practices, we also have “bottom of the pile” structured unmanaged content like email, transactional records, invoices, word documents, and PDFs which we try to manage through technology. In the “middle layer”, we have high-value structured content or highly engineered content. These different content layers beg the question: how do you identify high-value content in your organization?
There are five hallmarks of high-value content.
- Will it be read by staff partners, and clients?
- Will it be reused in different forms?
- Will it be referenced repeatedly by the organization?
- Will the content be relied upon as documentation of key business decisions?
- Will it be revised, reviewed, and approved repeatedly by different roles across the organization?
One of the most costly aspects of content management is getting high-value content through to the approval stage.
Getting high-value content approved requires having the right technology, processes, and skills in place to manage the touchpoints across the enterprise. To start, we need to build a strategy for success within the organization. This starts with using content strategy to inform how we implement standardized content creation and management throughout the enterprise. The goal is to leverage content and find better ways to use the high-value aspects of that content. This involves engaging the various areas of the business which high-value content touches. At this stage, the customer journey really starts to play a role.
People, Process, Technology, AND Positioning
Traditionally, customers were offered content by many parts of an organization, which worked as independent publishing divisions. Each division created and distributed its own assets. That resulted in extensive fragmentation in terms of what customers received. Our current perspective on authoring adds another “P”, positioning, to the PPT acronym of people, process, and technology. We’re changing the positioning of content in the business: internally and externally. We are treating content as a valuable asset to be managed with the understanding that it directly affects the customer experience. This positioning is integral. It allows us to hold the attention of management who can fund initiatives to support the development of coherent customer journeys.
When we do omnichannel journey mapping, we are providing a methodology for various people within the organization, who may have never spoken before, to understand the consumer journey from end to end. This process creates an opportunity for multiple stakeholders to learn how their contribution to the knowledge base intersects with the consumer journey in a way that actually works for customers out in the real world, across silos and across touchpoints.
Enterprise Content Strategy
Creating enterprise content standards within an organization continues to be challenging. Despite changes in technology, centralized information security continues to be a barrier because we have, in many cases, a distributed workforce that is more self-managing than ever before. Newer, smarter technology, requires us to standardize the ways we create and package content. The lack of visibility into the variety of content formats makes some information impenetrable: the dark data, the digital landfill where network drives full of PowerPoint slides and PDF files provide no visibility. Ideally, we want to shine a light onto these documents, to enable our enterprises to see into them and semantically enrich all of these assets to mine intelligence from them. A clear challenge sorting the “information” wheat, from the “knowledge” chaff. In some cases, it is a nearly impossible task. To create a viable enterprise content strategy, we need to change how we look at content creation and management by using solutions that will gain traction organically within the organization. This creates a snowball effect: other divisions want to join and see their content perform beyond their expectations. Enterprise Content Strategy is a rolling machine that is robust and agile and allows teams to collaborate, organize their efforts, and share more of their work in a meaningful way, creating valuable strategic alliances across the organization.
Tired of missed opportunities, duplication, and content approval confusion? We can create an enterprise content strategy for your organization.
About the Author
Rob Hanna co-founded Precision Content in 2015 to pursue his goals to produce tools, training, and methods that will help organizations make their high-value content instantly available to all that need it including customers, staff, partners, and even other information systems that need to consume that content. Driving this development is the Precision Content® Writing Methods, based on the best-available research over the last 50 years into how the brain works with information. Today Rob leads his highly-skilled team of content strategists, information architects, writers, trainers, and developers to serve the needs for digital transformation for businesses across North America.Tweet