Today’s businesses are overwhelmed with the need to create more content, more quickly, customized for more customers and for more media than ever before. Combine this with decreasing resources, time, and budgets and you have a stressful situation for organizations and their content creators.
A typical organization has multiple content creators who design, create, manage, and distribute information. Virtually every department within an organization touches content in some way. For example, think of a company that sells a software product. They will have product information in a brochure, in press releases, on the web site, on the product package, in the training materials, in the user documentation, and in the customer support materials. Now think of how many people created or modified that content, (Marketing, Technical Publications, Training, Web Master, Customer Support). Now think about the cost of translating that content into six languages (not uncommon for many global companies). Every single information product (e.g., brochure) will probably be translated individually even if a memory translation tool is used because each group will have written the content slightly differently. Now think about changing that information three weeks before product launch because one feature could not be implemented; think about finding all these occurrences and fixing them. Finally, think of the customer who is receiving all these pieces of information and is trying to get a clear understanding of your product and its capabilities. The branding may be inconsistent and the message unclear. Now think into the future when this product becomes just one of many with common functionality across a suite of products and think about how to make sure content is consistent and accurate. The time and cost can be astronomical.
Too often, content is created by authors working in isolation from other authors within the organization. Walls are erected among content areas and even within content areas, which leads to content being created, and recreated, and recreated, often with changes or differences at each iteration. We call this The Content Silo Trap™. Content silos can have detrimental effects on organizations, resulting in increased costs, reduced quality, and potentially ineffective materials.
A unified content strategy can help your organization to avoid the Content Silo Trap, reducing the costs of creating, managing, and distributing content, and ensuring that content effectively supports your organizational and customer needs. A unified content strategy is a repeatable method of identifying all content requirements up front, creating consistently structured content for reuse, managing that content in a definitive source, and assembling content on demand to meet your customers’ needs.
A unified content strategy is a coherent content strategy. Organizations can rely on content being the same wherever it appears, providing both internal and external customers with a consistent message, brand, and accuracy. No longer do organizations have to worry about contradicting themselves with differing information; where duplication occurs, it is the same content. Additional benefits include:
Faster time to market is achieved through shorter content creation and maintenance cycles. Authors spend less time repeatedly authoring content because they reuse existing content wherever possible, supplementing it with new or modified content where appropriate. Reviewers also spend less time reviewing content because they only have to review the content that is new or changed; existing content has already been reviewed and signed off.
In a unified content strategy, resources are optimized because the repetitive processes of creation and maintenance are reduced. Because they are required to do less repetitive work, everyone involved in the content creation process can do more value-added work or respond to new requirements.
In a unified content strategy, the costs of creating and managing content are reduced. Less work is required to get a product to market, not only decreasing internal costs, but potentially increasing revenue. Content is modified or corrected once instead of multiple times, reducing maintenance costs. Translation costs are reduced because reusable content is translated only once instead of multiple times; derivatives of that content are eliminated or reduced.
A unified content strategy helps to improve the quality of content. Content is clearly modeled for consistent structure; increasing its readability and usability. Most importantly, content is accurate and consistent wherever it appears. Issues of inaccurate content, inconsistent content, or missing content are reduced or eliminated.
Managing your enterprise content using a unified content strategy fits everywhere in your organization, including customer relationship management, the web site, e-commerce, product training and support, and corporate policies and procedures. In fact, if your organization is like most, there are already a number of initiatives underway to address problems related to content creation and management. However, creating content in isolation— and addressing content problems in isolation—solves only the immediate problem and leads to the content silo trap. It does not address content creation, management, delivery and reuse in a unified way, and hence, may compound problems. A unified content strategy is a repeatable method of identifying all content requirements up front, creating consistently structured content for reuse, managing that content in a definitive source, and assembling content on demand to meet your customers’ needs. It is the next logical step in content management.