Businesses in all industries share a common goal when it comes to content management; keeping customers coming back. The key to achieving this is by putting their needs at the forefront of business decisions, getting under their skin to understand what they want and how to efficiently deliver it.
As businesses complete the transition away from print-centric communications and embrace digital channels for creating, approving, publishing, and distributing content, one issue remains: how to automate this to save time and money.
Recent research from InfoTrends demonstrates just how much of a problem this remains, and what businesses must do to effectively develop and disseminate content to digital audiences. Interestingly, the study found the key objective driving businesses to invest in content-related technology is to improve customer satisfaction. It's clear many organisations understand the importance of getting this process right, but many are still struggling to evolve.
In this article, I aim to address the ways in which businesses are falling short and why they should eliminate manual processes, embrace automation for consumption on mobile devices, and create a better understanding of the needs of their audience.
The death of manual processes
The way people find and read content has changed beyond recognition, but in many businesses, the processes for creating and distributing content have simply not kept up. The InfoTrends research found 30 per cent of organisations find it difficult to configure their content management technology to meet their specific requirements, which has likely to include digital and mobile content delivery. The truth is, for many businesses traditional content workflows just feel comfortable. When the content world was print-centric, organisations only had to think in terms of producing print content in order to reach their customers or internal audiences. Creating multiple versions of print content had complications, but those were largely manageable through manual processes and desktop tools.
The birth of the Internet was the first sign that traditional content processes might not work. Instead of rethinking their approach, many organisations simply added duplicate teams to be responsible for the web. When totalling the cost of creating, reviewing and approving content, running compliance checks in regulated industries, publishing and distributing the content, and then making updates to that content, it adds up to a significant allocation of resources. When businesses consider applying this same content process across multiple channels, the cost is prohibitive.
Businesses could simply decide not to support all of these channels. However, the rise of digital content, social media and mobile devices – even wearable tech like the Apple Watch – has resulted in more empowered, better-informed customers and employees with high expectations that need to be met in order to win and retain them. Customers not only expect content across multiple channels, but also want it to be immediately accessible, relevant, and engaging.
So what must businesses do?
The only real answer to the challenge of creating, publishing, and delivering content to such a diverse array of media channels is automating this process. In a nutshell, this is what content automation does: it automates the assembly, management, publishing, and delivery of content for multiple media and audiences. In the same way that the manufacturing industry embraced automation to meet the insatiable consumer demand for products, organisations need to automate their content process to meet consumers’ demand for digital content.
Although automation sounds simple – and conceptually it is – automating the content process to multiple media and audiences requires some substantive changes to how businesses create, manage, publish, and deliver content.
The objective is to eliminate as many manual processes as possible in order to increase productivity, reduce costs, and increase the effectiveness of content. Businesses want their most important resources – employees – focused on where they add the most value to the content process. They shouldn’t be spending time on work that doesn’t add value, like formatting Word documents or recreating content that already exists.
By embracing automation, staff move from authoring documents to creating reusable content components. Instead of creating one-off documents where content is locked into a specific document and format, authors create content components that can be assembled and delivered to multiple channels. Authors are also able to capture knowledge about their content at the time it is created using metadata to tag up the article with keywords. This enables businesses to efficiently publish to multiple channels, without worrying about duplicating content or making mistakes all while keeping audiences engaged and coming back for more information.
However, to keep audiences coming back, businesses need to share content with them that is relevant to their needs. Interestingly, the InfoTrends research found most organisations don’t feel they have a good understanding of who is consuming their published content, and on which devices. Customers are not static – they use different devices and many channels at all times of the day to access and explore their favourite content. Businesses need to keep this front of mind when authoring content, and adopt systems that register the channels where each piece of content is consumed.
For example, if a field engineer working on an oil rig in the North Sea wants to access the standard operating procedures for that rig on their iPad, they can now be delivered to him via a PDF. However, this isn’t an ideal solution as the engineer may have to search through to find the right one and the relevant information. There is a risk that the engineer uses the wrong information for that location or that the PDFs aren’t even up to date. What if that information was delivered in a device appropriate format to the iPad in real-time instead? What if the automated system is location aware so it could serve up just the information needed for that specific location and task? The employees are safer and more productive and the business has minimised their compliance risks.
The challenge of multi-channel content publishing applies to every organisation, and content automation can act as an ideal solution – especially when creating content at a large scale. When automation is appropriate, the results and the return on investment are extremely valuable. Productivity goes up, time to market is reduced, a company can support more information products without adding resources, and subsequently improve the quality of published content for better customer and employee engagement. It truly has the power to transform a business.
Gavin Drake, VP of Marketing at Quark