Small mistakes, high costs: How content automation can tackle typos

Adidas recently faced criticism over a typo in its advertising, mistaking Colombia for 'Columbia'. Not so glaring, you may think -- however, Twitter followers jumped on the chance to point out the error, which highlights the damage a typo can do to reputation, not to mention the cost to the organisation, which had to recall the graphics and install new versions.

An error in content can cost businesses millions of pounds, leave customer relations in tatters, and reduce the credibility of a brand’s future messages and offerings. Yet typos are still an everyday occurrence for many organisations.

Past events have shown us the true cost of small mistakes

In 1962 America’s first interplanetary probe Mariner 1 exploded just minutes after take-off because of a missing hyphen in the coding used to set trajectory and speed. This cost NASA $80 million (£60m).

In December 2005, Japan’s Mizuho Securities introduced a new member to its portfolio of offerings, a recruitment company called J-Com Co., priced at 610,000 yen per share. When one of the company’s traders sold 610,000 shares at one yen apiece, the Tokyo Stock Exchange refused to reverse the error. Mizuho Securities lost $340 million (£260m).

Earlier this year, research by Harvard University found that typos in web addresses were costing Google roughly $497 million (£385m) per year. The research indicated that approximately 0.7 per cent of visits to a site ended in users accidentally visiting a different site with a similar name. 57 per cent of these sites host successful advertisements, many of them sourced through Google.

All serious issues. All things a business wants to avoid avidly today.

So why do these mistakes happen?

The reason is simple: a lack of rigour and control in the content lifecycle driven by inefficient and outdated processes. If a business does not have a single source of truth for its content and instead relies on manual processes such as copy and paste and duplicate content, it’s inevitable that mistakes will happen. Factor in consumer demand to get the right content at the right time on the right device and it’s easy to see why these dated processes no longer work.

Some industries, such as manufacturing and aerospace, have figured this out and developed mature processes and technologies for creating and managing technical documentation. However this is the exception not the rule.

What’s the answer?

Organisations can ensure they don’t fall foul of the complex pitfalls that surround content by automating the creation, management and publishing of their content, taking the ability to make a mistake out of human hands.

Content automation helps organisations transform and streamline the lifecycle of business critical content and thus avoid mistakes while ensuring content is compliant and up to date. By embracing automation, staff move from authoring static documents to creating reusable content components. The creation of content components eliminates copying, pasting and rekeying of content and enables teams across an organisation to access accurate content that can be delivered across formats – PDF, Web and mobile – with confidence. By introducing content automation, businesses give themselves the peace of mind that their company isn’t at risk and avoid disaster before it is too late.

Gavin Drake, Vice President of Marketing at Quark Inc.