Bill Swallow: Welcome to the Content Strategy Experts Podcast, brought to you by Scriptorium. Since 1997, Scriptorium has helped companies manage, structure, organize, and distribute content in an efficient way. Hello, I’m Bill Swallow. For episode 39, we thought we’d try something a little different. We just returned home from LavaCon, and while there, we spoke to attendees and vendors about trends, challenges, and take-aways from the conference. We hope you enjoy this short collection of brief interviews. You may notice that the recording’s a bit noisier than usual, after all, we were at a very busy conference in New Orleans, on Bourbon Street.
Bill Swallow: I first spoke with Jack Molisani, the Executive Director of LavaCon, to ask why people are attending his conference. Here’s what he had to say.
Bill Swallow: So I’m here with Mr. Jack Molisani, Mr. LavaCon himself, and I’m going to ask, what are the common challenges that he’s seen people coming here looking for solutions to?
Jack Molisani: Probably things on the soft side, where content professionals are looking for systems. They know what they want, they know how to get there, they don’t necessarily have the head count or the budget to do it. So they really come to gather metrics to build a business case to implement the content strategy that they’ve already designed.
Bill Swallow: Cool, thank you Jack.
Bill Swallow: I then spoke to some of the attendees in both technical documentation and marketing departments in companies of various sizes, to see what they were at LavaCon for.
Bill Swallow: I’m here with Jodi Shimp, of Crown Corporation. Jodi, what do you do for Crown?
Jodi Shimp: I am the Global Content and Localization Strategy Manager for Crown.
Bill Swallow: And what brings you to LavaCon?
Jodi Shimp: So, I come to LavaCon, I think this is my fourth or fifth conference, just to see what’s happening in the industry. Find out where other companies are going with their content strategy, and compare war pains with other companies and what they struggle with in aligning content strategy across corporations and multiple departments and locations.
Bill Swallow: Very cool, thank you.
Bill Swallow: I’m here with Christina Brunk from Extreme Networks. Christina, tell us a little bit about what you do at Extreme.
Christina Brunk: I manage the Information Development Team at Extreme Networks. We are a global team and we document everything about every product in the company.
Bill Swallow: Excellent. So, are you here at LavaCon for a very specific reason? Is there a particular content challenge that you’re looking to find a solution for?
Christina Brunk: Well, I typically have attended STC conferences, but I found those weren’t particularly relevant for a management role. So, what I’m looking for specifically is information about metrics, and how to define what we do and how we can improve. And also to address issues with findability and searchability so that our customers can better find our content.
Bill Swallow: Very cool, thank you.
Bill Swallow: I’m here with Alyssa Fox from Graylog. Alyssa, what do you do with Graylog?
Alyssa Fox: I’m the Director of Marketing.
Bill Swallow: Okay. And what is one of the content challenges you are hoping to solve with Graylog?
Alyssa Fox: I think the biggest content challenge I have is the simple fact that we are a start-up, and we don’t have a lot of content. So we are starting from the beginning almost. And I find that it’s pretty difficult to find qualified agencies and third-party content producers that will give me the quality that I need with the timeline that I need.
Bill Swallow: Okay. And have you gained any insight while at LavaCon into this challenge?
Alyssa Fox: Yes, I’ve gotten some good ideas around specifically what to look for and how to prioritize. Obviously when you’re starting from scratch, there’s an overwhelming amount to do, so picking out what are the top content pieces that I need as well as the top priorities for our website to draw in conversions and leads has been really helpful.
Bill Swallow: Very cool. Thank you.
Alyssa Fox: Sure.
Bill Swallow: It seems that Jack’s take was accurate. It was clear that the attendees had plans in place, and were looking for specific information concerning tactical approaches, metrics, and shared experiences.
Bill Swallow: I then talked to some of the vendors in attendance to see what solutions they might have to address the attendees’ challenges.
Bill Swallow: I’m here with George Bina from Syncro Soft, makers of Oxygen. Asking him what common challenges he’s hearing from people at the conference.
George Bina: Hi Bill. So, in my discussion with people from the conference, often times hear that they are using Word to get initial content from subject matter experts. Then they have to convert that, or manually process that into their structured workflows. When I show them what can be done with XML, with customizing the user experience, providing hints allowing users to discover what they can enter, and basically hiding the actual mark up, but still keeping the semantic structure that they need to fill in, and making this so easy, they always have an “aha” moment, they always want to try that with those users. I hope we’ll see more and more XML first work flows being made available.
Bill Swallow: Okay.
George Bina: Thanks.
Bill Swallow: Thanks George.
Bill Swallow: All right, I’m here with Dave [Kerfoot] and Caroline [Couvrette] from IXIASOFT. Looking to find out what is the more common challenges that clients are facing.
Dave Kerfoot: I think one of the more common challenges that our customers or prospects are facing today is the ability to incorporate their large amount of reviewers or contributors into the documentation process. IXIASOFT has bridged that gap through our web platform, which does exactly that. We’re able to essentially allow subject matter experts to contribute and review content either at the beginning or closer to the end of the documentation process.
Bill Swallow: Thank you.
Bill Swallow: All right, I’m here with Liz Fraley of Single-Sourcing Solutions. Liz, do you see any common elements from attendees this week?
Liz Fraley: So, some of the most interesting things I’m seeing this week is the sort of company in a company. Right? The project teams are not just engineering and a tech writer, but now marketing and other people from the company are part of that initial design and team that sees it from start to finish. And it’s really kind of interesting to see. We talk about silos all the time, but now we’re seeing small companies in a company doing stuff.
Bill Swallow: Interesting.
Liz Fraley: Yeah, it’s really cool.
Bill Swallow: Pretty cool, thanks Liz.
Liz Fraley: You’re welcome.
Bill Swallow: The responses were varied, but it is clear that there are various solutions for tactical and strategic challenges.
Bill Swallow: We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief look inside LavaCon. If you did, please let us know. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can reach us on Twitter @scriptorium. We hope to see and hear from you at future events.
Bill Swallow: Thank you for listening to the Content Strategy Experts Podcast, brought to you by Scriptorium. For more information, visit Scriptorium.com, or check the show notes for relevant links.