2019 trend: Smarter content in unexpected places

Sarah O'Keefe / OpinionLeave a Comment

Owl in hiding

It’s always dangerous to make predictions, but for 2019, we are defining “smarter content in unexpected places” as our trend in content strategy.

The catalyst is recognition of content value. Once you decide that delivering certain information is valuable, you then start to think about the best ways to create, manage, and deliver that information. How can you maximize its value?

In many cases, the answer is smarter content. Instead of working on static Word or PDF files, companies are looking at breaking up information into modular pieces, separating content and formatting, and adding intelligence with metadata.Owl in hiding

The result, from our point of view inside the content industry, is that the requirement for smart content—structured content with tags and metadata—is popping up in places where you might not expect it.

We are working on more and more projects outside of traditional content groups. In addition to technical communication and publishing departments, we are hearing from IT groups that are leading digital transformation initiatives and from executive leadership focused on customer experience issues.

The push for structured content by the early adopters (especially in software and telecommunications) was primarily driven by simple efficiency arguments. Tagged content means automated formatting, which in turns increases content velocity and reduces the overall cost of producing content.

In the unexpected places, the emphasis is on what content can do when it is tagged rather than on reducing total cost of ownership. A critical focus is enablement—getting features that are difficult or impossible with unstructured content, such as personalization or automatically generating links to external data.

So what does this mean for 2019?

  • Non-content people care about the overall content experience and not just production efficiency. We have to make our explanations, training, and authoring experience much simpler because we are working with people who do not live, eat, and breathe content or technology.
  • Many (most?) of the available software tools are unacceptably complex for this new audience.

Considering smart content in your organization? We’d love to help.

About the Author

Sarah O'Keefe

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Content strategy consultant and founder of Scriptorium Publishing. Bilingual English-German, voracious reader, water sports, knitting, and college basketball (go Blue Devils!). Aversions to raw tomatoes, eggplant, and checked baggage.

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