Today’s expert, Rahel Bailie, says in her video that ‘in the almost 30 years I’ve been working with content, there’s been barely a year where some innovation hasn’t changed how we approach content and change the systems we use to manage it. And 2017 did not disappoint in that regard.’ So in the penultimate video of our Content Strategy Advent Calendar, check out Rahel’s three highlights in relation to innovation, content systems and artificial intelligence.
Happy holidays to you all, and a big thank you to GatherContent for asking me to be part of their 2017 Advent calendar. No matter which holiday you celebrate, I hope you get some down time to spend with friends and family. 2017 has been quite the year, hasn’t it? I’m not talking politics or social climate, or even environmental climate, though. I’m talking content.
In the almost 30 years I’ve been working with content, there’s been barely a year where some innovation hasn’t changed how we approach content and change the systems that we use to manage it. And 2017 didn’t disappoint in that regard.
The big change on the content scene is connected to the new demands on content that emanate from the strides made in cognitive computing and artificial intelligence, which we’re seeing in things like chatbots and voice interfaces, but also in less visible and more massive spheres. The two that come to mind are Industry 4.0, which is all about smart factories, and Service 4.0, which is the service side to Industry 4.0’s manufacturing side. And that spawned information 4.0 which is content created to deliver into those environments, into those complex environments.
So what does this mean for content? Well lots and lots of things, actually, but I’ll pick out my top three highlights.
First, in these hyper-connected, complex environments, it will become obvious to organisations that the payload being delivered is content. Good content. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed that there’s been an industry shift to wanting to solve everything through algorithms, or fancier code, or automation, but a reluctance to actually go out and hire writers and the right kinds of writers to focus on the content itself. In a world where you ask a bot a question and you get a single answer – the one answer that a search engine has decided is The Best One – all the algorithms in the world won’t help if you have mediocre content to offer up. It’s like giving the gift of an empty Christmas stocking, and content consumers won’t tolerate that.
Which leads to my second point, which is that content that’s delivered has to be good content. Sloppy content won’t cut it when a virtual assistant presents vague content. Spelling, grammatical mistakes, factual errors, rambling sentences – your virtual assistant will just say them without embarrassment. Companies that have accumulated content debt through under-investment in content will soon find themselves in a position where they need to pay down that debt, and quickly. And that’s a good thing. It’s about time that that’s happened so I see that being more recognised in 2018.
And my third point is that content systems – and if you know me, you know how strongly I feel about systematising content as the foundation for content strategy – is that it’s going to be super-important to upgrade content systems. As we multiply the delivery aspects of content across multiple silos that often don’t connect, we get conflicting information, incoherent content, mismatched copy, increased risk. Eventually, it damages our customer experience. So having an integrated system, with semantic content structures, strong metadata, that will help with managing increasing smaller units of content that need to remain engaging and be delivered reliably into everything from cornerstone interfaces such as the Web, to new interfaces we haven’t even anticipated yet. Content systems will save the day – and your sanity.
On that note, I wish you all an exciting 2018, with lots to think about and learn about. And if you’re in London, check the Scroll site for our courses and workshops on content strategy and structured content systems. Bye.
Rahel Anne Bailie, Chief Knowledge Officer at Scroll in London, has been a content strategy consultant for over 15 years, developing content systems for a wide range of global clients. She has a strong track record of developing successful digital content projects, tackling the complexities of managing content for clients. Her strength is diagnostics: calculating how to use content to deliver compelling experiences. She is a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication, an industry author of several books and many articles, and an instructor in the Content Strategy Master’s Program at FH-Joanneum in Austria.
Rob is Content Strategist at GatherContent. He is a journalism graduate and has previously worked as Studio Manager and Head of Content for a design agency and as an Audience Research Executive for the BBC. He’s a published author and regular contributor to industry publications including Net Magazine, Smashing Magazine, 24 Ways, WebTuts+, UX Matters , UX Booth and Content Marketing Institute. On occasion Rob speaks about content strategy at leading industry events.
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