You think you have a content management challenge? Each year Telstra runs its Vantage conference for business and enterprise customers. Over 4000 guests attend during the three days of the event and between them they consume as many as 150 presentations. It is a huge undertaking requirement sophisticated oversight and a tight schedule to keep the information flowing.
But for a company the scale of Telstra, it is barely a drop in the content management ocean. And of course the problem doesn’t end when the lights are turned off after the last delegate has gone home. If anything it is only getting started.
Every one of those presentations is a piece of content that might fulfill another need at some point in the future, says the Telco giant’s director of segment marketing Andy Bateman. It is a problem familiar to many managers in corporate environments – content is king across the board and not simply in digital marketing. For anyone looking for a silver bullet solution to the content marketing conundrum, Bateman has a piece of cautionary advice.
“There is no silver bullet. You might think you can build a central nervous system or a big data lake but it’s nigh on impossible.” “Can there be a single over arching platform?” he asks.
” My sense is by the time you build it, it will be redundant because the reasons you use it and the way that you use it will have changed.” Instead, he suggests, content management systems which focus on a specific need might provide a better outcome.”
We do a lot of marketing automation for instance and we use external partners and it is a very decent fit-for-purpose solution compared to say other use cases.” Companies have always produced voluminous content but go back two decades and there was little consideration for content management simply because much of the material was not digitised. That is all changing.
Gone are the days of mere text and photos. Video is increasingly critical. Sales presentations which once could reliably be found in a power point presentation might now be spread across multiple apps and even multiple clouds.
According to Darren Guarnaccia (below) , Sitecore’s US based EVP of Customer Experience, “Organisations nowadays produce a tremendous amount of content to communicate with their customers, prospects, partners, and other stakeholders. From websites to emails to mobile experiences and applications – all of them need content. In many ways, content is the currency of the modern marketer.
“It’s the coin with which you purchase attention from your audience.” This content, he says, whether it be text, images, documents or other types of content assets – needs to be managed and packaged up for delivery across a multitude of channels. “This is the core function of Content Management Systems today (or what we believe should be, anyway).”
Historically, brand managers and other lineof-business employees simply needed to create, maintain, index, and update content for their websites, especially text and imagery, says Sunil Menon, the Worldwide Head of HP TeamSite.
According to Menon, digital channels are now central to interacting and engaging with customers, partners, and employees. People and organisations produce more content than ever, and the rate of creation continues to grow.
“Content itself has changed too – text and imagery persist, but there is a larger growth in the use of more visually-compelling content including photos, audio, streaming video, social posts, crowdsourced ratings, reviews and more.
More importantly, a lot of this content is being created outside the enterprise and is not under the control of the marketer or line-of-business user within the enterprise.
“This poses a huge problem for organisations trying to manage these content types in a manner that makes it easy to find, curate and re-use across all digital touchpoints at the scale that is required for the enterprise.” He quotes research from Forrester which says the average enterprise manages 268 different mobile and web experiences.
“Imagine the chaos and complexity of maintaining consistent brand and customer experiences across all these digital destinations. The content supply chain is broken, resulting in content duplication, dated information, content silos, and lack of brand compliance.
“As well as the content, the channels through which people expect to access it have ballooned. Even a few years ago, people mostly interacted through a browser. Now, they expect a consistent and connected experience across their smartphones, tablets, desktops, laptops, in store, on billboards, on social channels, and even third party sites (e.g. a hotel company posting property information to online travel agencies such as Expedia).”
And he suggests, there is also a debate brewing about whether users are expecting a push as opposed to a pull of digital experiences. SDL Australian managing director Kevin Ross adds,
“ Content comes in many shapes and forms, but there is a clear trend towards more rich media and more multilingual content. Moreover, personalisation requires additional content to be produced as well.
“Overall, the content explosion continues, and companies struggle to manage this in a way that is efficient and that produces brand consistency over time.” For companies that are producing content, there’s an imperative to house and order it well. “Of course, it depends what sort of content you’re creating and what it’s used for, but robust content management can turn brands from disorganised, messy dumping grounds of information to ultra efficient content machines,” says Martin Wanless, Chief Content Officer at Mahlab Media.
“The type of content that needs managing is pretty much everything you create.”
And he echoes Bateman’s advice that it is especially important for anything ‘evergreen’ that is likely to be re-used. “In the sales process, content is being used increasingly for sales enablement, and knowing where your content about a specific topic sits is as important as having it created in the first place.”
He offers a simple analogy, “Look at it this way. Storing your content in a beautifully organised factory, where you can identify the location at the click of a button, is a far more preferable experience than searching through folders for hours on end.”
The promise of content management is that as well as retrieving content, these systems enable the creation and approval process to be managed much more efficiently.
“A process of doing this enables efficiency, version control and approvals, and done well is significantly more efficient for everyone concerned.” And, he adds, software that can give insights into the performance of content is hugely attractive too. Adobe’s Marta DeBellis, VP of marketing for Adobe, Asia Pacific, meanwhile says, “The changing digital landscape has created new and exciting ways to engage with customers across channels and devices via mobile, web, social, Internet of Things, in-store digital screens and more.”
Particularly in the marketing space personalisation has also become a key consideration. “Creating a personalised, relevant digital experience has become a priority and a challenge for many organisations. This is why many organisations turn to a content management solution for management, delivery, measurement and ultimately optimisation.
As a result, this will help companies build brand loyalty and drive demand. DeBellis argues that there will be a lot more focus on personalised content; getting the most relevant content to the right person at the right time, and served on the right device.
“This is an extremely complex goal, but the platforms and technology are already there. We see leaders in this space advancing rapidly once they commit to this organisational goal.”
A changing mix
Content types and content channels are changing, and this is creating new challenges for marketers. “It’s no question that mobile has changed the game, but even as recently as a couple of years back there was a rush to quickly build and push apps to market, with little to no thought on how to create value beyond the launch,” says DeBellis.
“Today, we’re seeing that it’s no longer acceptable to just simply have a web or mobile presence. Being engaging and useful to the customer should be the end goal. To this end it is important to have the content linked to mobile apps or web analytics to measure what is working and what is not.” Video is also playing an ever increasing role in the corporate context mix.
“More and more people are consuming video on mobile, which has historically been time consuming and expensive to get to market. Now companies need to be able to produce videos in a more nimble fashion in short and long form.” Telstra’s Bateman sees video as a critical part of the content mix. “The capability of wireless broadband and wifi technology has meant that video content, management and distribution is much more practical that it was three years ago.”
He says that if companies are not producing and managing video content, particularly on mobile, then they are missing the boat. “We want to watch the internet not just read it and as humans we are built to give and receive stories – video allows us to do that better than anything else.”
But as content sources and channels expand, businesses also need a way to tame the insatiable hunger of the content beast. Content management platforms offer that promise but there are significant impediments that introduce risk into the proposition. Those challenges are cultural, economic and technological.
Mahlab’s Wanless says, “There are cultural issues in utilising some content management platforms in that some of them aren’t great to use, and some people struggle to see the immediate benefit in using them.” Price is a significant issue too, because there’s little immediate payback, according to Wanless.
“The business case for investing has to be very strong as some of the platforms cost five figures plus per month. That’s a huge investment, so unless companies can help demonstrate the business case of using the platforms and can model out efficiency figures it can become a bit of a flight of fancy.” He suggests there are many platforms that do some of the content process.
“Software for discovery. Software for planning. Software for insights. Software for creation, approval, publishing and the like. Joining some of these together is a solution, but not a great one. There are a handful of good end-to-end solutions, that come with a hefty price tag, and again that becomes hard to prove.
“A frustration of mine is that there are so many tech companies and people perceiving content as a sector to make a quick buck from – they try to sell poorly thought out tech solutions, often to people who don’t fully understand content. This results in an even more fragmented sector.”
Implementation is a huge and often overlooked aspect too, he argues – it’s a significant cost in terms of time out to implement a new system well. Typically two companies, Adobe and Sitecore feature prominently in content management platform conversations. So we asked each what they views as key impediments. Sitecore’s Guarnaccia identified the issue of data silos as a key concern. “Silos of content and context still plague the industry.
Many customers are still using disconnected systems that don’t share content or the customer data that drives context. These silos exist not only in technology but also in culture, as many organisations still operate their various channel-centric marketing teams in their own bubbles, without a holistic customer experience mentality.”
Adobe’s DeBellis meanwhile argues that companies needed to take a holistic view. “The acceleration of content velocity, essentially the speed and throughput in creating impactful and compelling content, is creating all sorts of A frustration of mine is that there are so many tech companies and people perceiving content as a sector to make a quick buck from – they try to sell poorly thought out tech solutions, often to people who don’t fully understand content. 010 pain for organisations, and it’s very important for companies to take the time to think through and put infrastructure and process around their rush to create and manage.
She describes this as partly a process issue, but also a technological challenge where the goal would be to end up with one central system and methodology for tagging, tracking, and sharing content assets across different teams from social, demand, events, and brand advertising.
Of course, one of the reasons many companies are sceptical of the single platform idea is that they share Andy Bateman’s hesitation about the likelihood that a single overarching platform can meet all their content needs. Still, market participants are confident things are changing for the better. SDL chief Ross says [the tools] are becoming more and more sophisticated, but given the breadth of solutions the area of sophistication will vary.
“Some systems will extremely user friendly for the author, some will be more geared towards optimisation of the front-end (visitor) experience, others will have strong backend integration capabilities, and again others will shine in managing localisation and translations; or course platform can also combine certain strengths.”
Ross echoes Bateman’s view. “It’s really about the most important use cases for the business that will dictate the best platform to choose. At the same time all platforms will have gaps and need to be able to become part of a larger ecosystem, hence we see the key need for modern (web services) based integration points.”
Wanless meanwhile suggests there is a gap in the market. That gap would be filled by an affordable true end-to-end content management solution, that helps facilitate planning by accessing research and insights. It should also “…coordinate all contributors with outcomes and projects, execute an influencer strategy, give customisable visibility to all stakeholders, publish directly and give robust analytics and insights.
And that’s just the start,” he says. And yet, all the people we approached on content management agreed that things are improving rapidly with improvements on mobility and video highlighted as key considerations.
The main vendors meanwhile focused on personalisation and velocity. Guarnaccia says CMSs can now deliver experiences across almost any channel, anywhere, based on the context of the given individual. “These systems can now do this in real-time and at scale. This just wasn’t possible even three years ago, but with the rise of big data platforms and improved cloud infrastructure, we can now empower many more organisations to cost-effectively deliver the amazon.com-like experiences to anyone.”
DeBellis meanwhile suggests companies have little choice. “The increase of content velocity has made the need for content management an essential part of a successful business. Everyone from creative pros to the broader marketing team need connected assets that can be easily managed and shared to quickly produce great work. This type of control and connectivity enables companies to embark on their own digital transformation.”
This article was produced for ADMA by the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit. ADMA is a corporate member of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit where members contribute their expertise and insights to Which-50 for the benefit of our senior executive audience. Membership fees apply.