Developments in the ContentOps landscape

Developments in the ContentOps landscape

7 minute read

Developments in the ContentOps landscape

7 minute read

Developments in the ContentOps landscape

Fi Shailes

Senior social media marketer and content writer

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If you missed GatherContent Co-founder and VP of Product Angus Edwardson’s recent guest appearance on Let’s Talk ContentOps, hosted by Rahel Anne Baille (Content Seriously, The Content Wrangler), we’ve rounded up some of the highlights for you in this article.

Rahel and Angus specifically chatted about the topic of ‘Developments in the ContentOps landscape’.

Why (and how) have things been changing in the content industry lately?

The content landscape today

There are multiple aspects to take into account when it comes to identifying exactly why and how the content landscape has been changing in recent years.

Here are the main factors that Rahel and Angus unpacked during the live discussion.

Changing perspectives

A multitude of organizations have evolved their perspectives on how important content and content operations (aka: ‘ContentOps’) are — on both the ‘product’ and ‘marketing’ sides.

We only have to look at the shift in mindset where websites are concerned; organizations used to work on the assumption that a website only needed to be updated and rebuilt maybe once or twice each decade. Instead, it’s now widely accepted that keeping a website updated — and with the right content — should be an ongoing activity.

Content is finally getting the credence and acknowledgement it deserves.

It warrants a team/teams of specialists to work on it, not ‘whoever has capacity in the marketing team’.

And whilst once it may have been a rather 'vulnerable' line item in a budget forecast, it’s now far more likely to be invested in.

Likewise, content strategy is no longer seen as a ‘one-off’ activity you work on at the start of each year/half-year/quarter. It’s deemed by many organizations now to be a continuous undertaking.

These signals alone mark a massive change in the industry landscape.

Good to know: This helpful article can help you make the case for content operations to the leaders in your organization.

The emergence of content operations

In comparison, content operations is still fairly new, and it's only just starting to ‘reach the surface’ in the last two to three years.

"We've gone from static websites to content operations, and then to the idea of kinetic content. Content has to move around. It's not like, ‘here's an article, here's the page, boom. Done’. Now it's, ‘these components need to go onto that page, and when this product is shown to those people, then that piece of content gets included."
Rahel Anne Bailie
Content Strategy Expert

In the recent past, we may have regarded our CMS to be front and center to our content; that it was the technology that underpinned the whole content process, because it helped us deliver our content to the end user. But we’ve shifted away from relying on websites as our main method of content delivery now. The reality is that consumers and users expect us to take more of a multi-channel (aka omnichannel) approach so that we can provide content in a way that suits them.

So is this a ‘content supply chain’? It’s a term already being bounced around by various organizations and marketing professionals — but Rahel makes a great argument for why the term is a red herring.

You can watch her sharing her point of view in the clip below, but in a nutshell, if you imagine a pen being sold to someone; that’s pretty much the end of the story for the pen company and their relationship with that particular pen.

When content is published or delivered to users, however, the work isn’t over for the people responsible for that content. The loop still needs to be closed on the content lifecycle, with questions and examinations taking place on aspects like:

  • The performance of that content
  • Whether another iteration or update is needed
  • Whether multiple versions of that original piece of content are required
  • Whether that content needs to be more personalized

And the list goes on.

Technology trends and market movements

There's a great deal of “decoupling” taking place at the moment in regard to marketing and content creation technologies.

For a long time, many organizations relied on using one big, monolithic platform (like Adobe, for example) to do ‘content things’ in. But now, things are being ‘unbundled’ and then ‘re-bundled’ together to make what seems to be a better fit.

You just have to look at GatherContent’s recent joining to the Bynder family, and Episerver’s acquisition of Optimizely to get the gist of where things might be heading in future.

"Episerver's acquisition of Optimizely; that's a CMS acquiring newsroom or editorial workflow technology, and there have been a lot of examples of that happening in the last year or two.

So, purely from a ‘market analysis’ point of view, these acquisitions signal a general acknowledgement of content operations, and there are also a lot more companies talking about ‘content operations’.

If you search for any content management system, pretty much all of them have a landing page that focuses on content operations now."
Angus Edwardson
VP of Product, GatherContent

Content governance is more recognized as ‘essential’

There’s been growing acknowledgement of content governance as a really important piece of the 'content creation jigsaw puzzle'.

Rahel spoke about a workshop she runs about content operations, and how she always makes participants plot out a RACI model where every step in the content creation process is documented. She says she’s seen 25+ steps being documented, and it creates a good basis for discussing and working through how to make things better by putting proper governance in place.

Angus worked closely with a number of universities where they worked through a similar exercise.

"The outcome is just these amazing, amazingly horrible and terrifying diagrams of different technologies."
Angus Edwardson
VP of Product, GatherContent

The governance element of content operations provides the system for not only how an organization's content gets created and published, but also how it’s managed from that point on.

Many content people have been realizing (the hard way) that after they’ve published all those articles, papers, webpages, videos, and documents for their organization, there’s suddenly a lot ‘out there’ to manage and maintain.

"It's always somebody's job to put stuff on the web, but it's never anybody's job to take something down."
Rahel Anne Bailie
Content Strategy Expert

💡 See also: Content Governance: The golden rules you need to make great content at scale

A recognized need for content specialists

“I think that the biggest shift that's happening is from a ‘people’ perspective. The technology moves slower than the people do.” — Angus Edwardson

There's a convergence of skills happening where there's recognition that specialists in different areas of content creation and management are needed; whether that’s someone who’s great at taxonomy and governance, or someone purely dedicated to user experience, or perhaps content design.

We’re also seeing roles like ‘VP of Content Operations’ and ‘Content Operations Director’ popping up in the marketplace, with coverage across most sectors and industries.

"In the last couple of years, I've seen a lot of really impressive, complex teams of people that have got very clear roles for the entire workflow of content.

LPL Financial is a really interesting company we talked to recently. Their Assistant VP of Content Operations has an incredible team, and they're essentially a product owner of upstream and downstream content production tools.

They had an editorial content strategy background combined with a technical understanding of things like structured content, APIs, and how to get content from A to Z.

Essentially, they have the time and authority to be responsible for the end-to-end lifecycle of content, with a team that supports them. Without that kind of set-up, it's quite difficult."
Angus Edwardson
VP of Product, GatherContent
Good to know: Jeneba Wint from LPL Financial features in this Insight Summary: ‘How organizations with mature content operations tackle challenges at scale’.

Content is more important than ever

It already seems indisputable. But, there’s a big challenge accompanying that statement, and it’s that content creation is more complex than ever. There are so many people involved, and important requirements that need to be fulfilled.

"You could argue that 10 years ago, digital content wasn't as important to businesses because a lot of services weren't necessarily digitized, and a lot of business processes and tasks weren't necessarily digitized. We didn't need to really care about it as much.

But now, so much of society relies on content, like government services, for example. There's constant change. It's a moving target."
Angus Edwardson
VP of Product, GatherContent

Upstream platforms are the way forward

Creating content used to be very focused on the ‘delivery’ stage — what Rahel terms ‘the last mile’ — but we know now that the real success comes from taking a ‘full-cycle’ approach to content; one that embraces the total framework of processes, platforms, and people for how content is handled in all stages leading up to user delivery...

The solution to all of this, of course, is content operations. It’s the anchor that helps sort out ‘the problems in the kitchen’, and gives everyone a clear remit (and boundaries) on exactly where they fit into the content creation process.

With a solid content operations program in place, content managers can now look at things from an editorial point of view. Senior stakeholders can review and make comments on content with less need to be ‘nudged’ to do so. And copy and content writers suddenly have the luxury of things like being 100% confident about which draft to work on — instead of wondering which of the three versions currently in circulation is the most recent.

We know that many organizations from various industries are changing their in-house set-ups in order to work this way — and it makes you wonder how content people ever managed without defined content operations.

"Content strategy is where you want to go. Content operations is the vehicle that gets you there."
Angus Edwardson
VP of Product, GatherContent

If you missed GatherContent Co-founder and VP of Product Angus Edwardson’s recent guest appearance on Let’s Talk ContentOps, hosted by Rahel Anne Baille (Content Seriously, The Content Wrangler), we’ve rounded up some of the highlights for you in this article.

Rahel and Angus specifically chatted about the topic of ‘Developments in the ContentOps landscape’.

Why (and how) have things been changing in the content industry lately?

The content landscape today

There are multiple aspects to take into account when it comes to identifying exactly why and how the content landscape has been changing in recent years.

Here are the main factors that Rahel and Angus unpacked during the live discussion.

Changing perspectives

A multitude of organizations have evolved their perspectives on how important content and content operations (aka: ‘ContentOps’) are — on both the ‘product’ and ‘marketing’ sides.

We only have to look at the shift in mindset where websites are concerned; organizations used to work on the assumption that a website only needed to be updated and rebuilt maybe once or twice each decade. Instead, it’s now widely accepted that keeping a website updated — and with the right content — should be an ongoing activity.

Content is finally getting the credence and acknowledgement it deserves.

It warrants a team/teams of specialists to work on it, not ‘whoever has capacity in the marketing team’.

And whilst once it may have been a rather 'vulnerable' line item in a budget forecast, it’s now far more likely to be invested in.

Likewise, content strategy is no longer seen as a ‘one-off’ activity you work on at the start of each year/half-year/quarter. It’s deemed by many organizations now to be a continuous undertaking.

These signals alone mark a massive change in the industry landscape.

Good to know: This helpful article can help you make the case for content operations to the leaders in your organization.

The emergence of content operations

In comparison, content operations is still fairly new, and it's only just starting to ‘reach the surface’ in the last two to three years.

"We've gone from static websites to content operations, and then to the idea of kinetic content. Content has to move around. It's not like, ‘here's an article, here's the page, boom. Done’. Now it's, ‘these components need to go onto that page, and when this product is shown to those people, then that piece of content gets included."
Rahel Anne Bailie
Content Strategy Expert

In the recent past, we may have regarded our CMS to be front and center to our content; that it was the technology that underpinned the whole content process, because it helped us deliver our content to the end user. But we’ve shifted away from relying on websites as our main method of content delivery now. The reality is that consumers and users expect us to take more of a multi-channel (aka omnichannel) approach so that we can provide content in a way that suits them.

So is this a ‘content supply chain’? It’s a term already being bounced around by various organizations and marketing professionals — but Rahel makes a great argument for why the term is a red herring.

You can watch her sharing her point of view in the clip below, but in a nutshell, if you imagine a pen being sold to someone; that’s pretty much the end of the story for the pen company and their relationship with that particular pen.

When content is published or delivered to users, however, the work isn’t over for the people responsible for that content. The loop still needs to be closed on the content lifecycle, with questions and examinations taking place on aspects like:

  • The performance of that content
  • Whether another iteration or update is needed
  • Whether multiple versions of that original piece of content are required
  • Whether that content needs to be more personalized

And the list goes on.

Technology trends and market movements

There's a great deal of “decoupling” taking place at the moment in regard to marketing and content creation technologies.

For a long time, many organizations relied on using one big, monolithic platform (like Adobe, for example) to do ‘content things’ in. But now, things are being ‘unbundled’ and then ‘re-bundled’ together to make what seems to be a better fit.

You just have to look at GatherContent’s recent joining to the Bynder family, and Episerver’s acquisition of Optimizely to get the gist of where things might be heading in future.

"Episerver's acquisition of Optimizely; that's a CMS acquiring newsroom or editorial workflow technology, and there have been a lot of examples of that happening in the last year or two.

So, purely from a ‘market analysis’ point of view, these acquisitions signal a general acknowledgement of content operations, and there are also a lot more companies talking about ‘content operations’.

If you search for any content management system, pretty much all of them have a landing page that focuses on content operations now."
Angus Edwardson
VP of Product, GatherContent

Content governance is more recognized as ‘essential’

There’s been growing acknowledgement of content governance as a really important piece of the 'content creation jigsaw puzzle'.

Rahel spoke about a workshop she runs about content operations, and how she always makes participants plot out a RACI model where every step in the content creation process is documented. She says she’s seen 25+ steps being documented, and it creates a good basis for discussing and working through how to make things better by putting proper governance in place.

Angus worked closely with a number of universities where they worked through a similar exercise.

"The outcome is just these amazing, amazingly horrible and terrifying diagrams of different technologies."
Angus Edwardson
VP of Product, GatherContent

The governance element of content operations provides the system for not only how an organization's content gets created and published, but also how it’s managed from that point on.

Many content people have been realizing (the hard way) that after they’ve published all those articles, papers, webpages, videos, and documents for their organization, there’s suddenly a lot ‘out there’ to manage and maintain.

"It's always somebody's job to put stuff on the web, but it's never anybody's job to take something down."
Rahel Anne Bailie
Content Strategy Expert

💡 See also: Content Governance: The golden rules you need to make great content at scale

A recognized need for content specialists

“I think that the biggest shift that's happening is from a ‘people’ perspective. The technology moves slower than the people do.” — Angus Edwardson

There's a convergence of skills happening where there's recognition that specialists in different areas of content creation and management are needed; whether that’s someone who’s great at taxonomy and governance, or someone purely dedicated to user experience, or perhaps content design.

We’re also seeing roles like ‘VP of Content Operations’ and ‘Content Operations Director’ popping up in the marketplace, with coverage across most sectors and industries.

"In the last couple of years, I've seen a lot of really impressive, complex teams of people that have got very clear roles for the entire workflow of content.

LPL Financial is a really interesting company we talked to recently. Their Assistant VP of Content Operations has an incredible team, and they're essentially a product owner of upstream and downstream content production tools.

They had an editorial content strategy background combined with a technical understanding of things like structured content, APIs, and how to get content from A to Z.

Essentially, they have the time and authority to be responsible for the end-to-end lifecycle of content, with a team that supports them. Without that kind of set-up, it's quite difficult."
Angus Edwardson
VP of Product, GatherContent
Good to know: Jeneba Wint from LPL Financial features in this Insight Summary: ‘How organizations with mature content operations tackle challenges at scale’.

Content is more important than ever

It already seems indisputable. But, there’s a big challenge accompanying that statement, and it’s that content creation is more complex than ever. There are so many people involved, and important requirements that need to be fulfilled.

"You could argue that 10 years ago, digital content wasn't as important to businesses because a lot of services weren't necessarily digitized, and a lot of business processes and tasks weren't necessarily digitized. We didn't need to really care about it as much.

But now, so much of society relies on content, like government services, for example. There's constant change. It's a moving target."
Angus Edwardson
VP of Product, GatherContent

Upstream platforms are the way forward

Creating content used to be very focused on the ‘delivery’ stage — what Rahel terms ‘the last mile’ — but we know now that the real success comes from taking a ‘full-cycle’ approach to content; one that embraces the total framework of processes, platforms, and people for how content is handled in all stages leading up to user delivery...

The solution to all of this, of course, is content operations. It’s the anchor that helps sort out ‘the problems in the kitchen’, and gives everyone a clear remit (and boundaries) on exactly where they fit into the content creation process.

With a solid content operations program in place, content managers can now look at things from an editorial point of view. Senior stakeholders can review and make comments on content with less need to be ‘nudged’ to do so. And copy and content writers suddenly have the luxury of things like being 100% confident about which draft to work on — instead of wondering which of the three versions currently in circulation is the most recent.

We know that many organizations from various industries are changing their in-house set-ups in order to work this way — and it makes you wonder how content people ever managed without defined content operations.

"Content strategy is where you want to go. Content operations is the vehicle that gets you there."
Angus Edwardson
VP of Product, GatherContent

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About the author

Fi Shailes

Fi works at digital agency twogether as a Social Strategist. She specialises in all things social and content, and freelances part-time at Digital Drum.

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