This presentation delves into a recent project experience where content issues were found to lie at the heart of high profile problems and where content solutions were found to deliver high visible benefits. Professional communicators have long been accustomed to pleading for budget dollars for even essential tasks. And great effort is applied to the crafting of business cases to justify anything requiring new money. In all of these activities, communicators have a sense that, in their organizations, the financial departments are the center of power and that surely they can be resistant to requests for funding in part because they have everything in their
own shop in good order.
This turns out to not be true. What was discovered in this case study was that the financial department was a veritable sinkhole of spending largely because it handled content so poorly and depended on it so completely. Even more interesting was the fact that the expenditures that this financial department had been making to address its communication problems, pouring untold millions into Business Intelligence (BI) executive dashboards, had been complete and utter failures.
The irony in this story is that with the tactical injection of just a little bit of content technology and a helping or two of sound communication practice this particular financial department was able to make monumental improvements in how it handled financial information and how it communicated it to its executives and to its external partners. Numerous lessons cascade out from this case study but none more important than the fact that content problems exist in every part of your organization and it turns out that the more high profile and “important” departments represent some of the best opportunities for content professionals to demonstrate what they can do to help the organization perform better.
There is a lot of bad content out there. The question to be tackled is why is this the case? There may be one obvious answer in that many organizations just don’t get it. But this answer does not account for the mass of bad content that forces itself into view each and every day. In all too many cases, the bad content appears even when the intent to provide good content is present and even when good people are brought in to help make it so.
We soon recognize that the real question to be answered is what can be done to make things better. With reference to a number of recent project experiences, this presentation will explore the techniques that can be applied in any organization to force out bad content and to make good content the order of the day. As the reference embedded in the title of this talk suggests, the techniques showcased in the case studies mix together some management toughness with the rigorous application of engineering discipline to the design and operation of effective content processes.
The insights that emerge from these experiences will be relevant to everyone participating in the content industry whether as communication professionals, as organizational managers or as technology vendors. And they will be relevant because they provide a glimpse into the shape that the content industry will increasingly assume over the next few years.
Joe Gollner is the Director of Gnostyx Research Inc., a company he founded to help organizations come to grips with their content in ways that are sustainable and scalable. His particular specialty revolves around leveraging open standards and intelligent content technologies to build solutions that connect the myriad of sources and processes that underlie how an enterprise performs and what it publishes. Along this line, he has led over 100 content management initiatives during the last twenty years, with several of these representing the high water mark in the industry for sophistication and scale.
Among these projects are some of the first business applications of the web, starting in 1992. His customers have tended to exhibit a distinctively technical bent and examples include Boeing, NATO Headquarters, Xerox, HP, Nokia, Samsung and the Russian Academy of Science.
Going further into the past and showcasing a not altogether healthy diversity of influences, he was an artillery officer in the Canadian army and graduated from the University of Oxford with a Master’s of Philosophy. Perhaps as an inevitable consequence of this history, he posts minor tomes on the nature of content through his blog, The Content Philosopher (www.gollner.ca).