The LavaCon Content Strategy Conference | 27–30 October 2024 | Portland, OR
Peggy Sanchez

Peggy is an accomplished Technical Documentation professional with a passion for transforming organizations’ development, management, and delivery of technical content products. She believes that technical documentation is not only a product, but also a service that can add value to the customer experience and the business outcomes. She strives to create a culture of excellence, innovation, and collaboration among her teams and across the organization. She is always looking for new ways to improve the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of technical documentation and to align it with the strategic goals of the business. The move into AI has provided the opportunity to redefine what technical writers can do. Currently her teams are piloting programs using AI to improve documentation production and developing best practices with AI in technical writing teams.

She recently added Technical Training Services to her team and is updating the training facilities and developing the training organization for her business unit. Her ability to foster strong relationships and build efficient workflows has resulted in significant cost reductions, increased productivity, and enhanced customer satisfaction.

Peggy has often shared insights and best practices in technical documentation at national industry conferences. With a deep understanding of the evolving industry landscape, Peggy provides invaluable guidance on modernizing documentation departments, enhancing content delivery, and leveraging emerging technologies.

Metamorphosis: Empowering Our Craft’s Evolution in the Dawn of Gen AI’s Era

Co-presented with: Fawn Damitio

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one that is most adaptable to change. —Charles Darwin
In the 90s, there was an obscure function beginning to emerge in tech called “human factors.” This field worked mostly on making consumer goods, and particularly electronic consumer goods, more usable. Around this same time, psychologist Don Norman joined Apple. No doubt, Steve Jobs was exploring the Human Factors as a trend and brought Norman on board to explore it more deeply. As Norman dug into this at Apple, he created an umbrella term that encompassed human factors but also included all human interactions with devices: mental, physical, and psychological. Here arose, seemingly out of dust, the now booming industry of UX.
But did it really rise out of nowhere? Those of us old enough to have been working at this time, knew that much of what “”UX”” and Human Factors did was something that technical writers already did informally. As the first consumers of products, we were strong advocates of product usability. We commonly shaped the design and direction of products with our usability feedback.  After all, the entire point of technical content was to help people better use products.  Then why was it that Jobs, Norman, and seemingly the rest of the industry ended up whole-heartedly embracing UX while continuing to declare  “”No one reads the documentation.””?
The case that could be made then, and still today, that it all comes down to our overall lack of expertise in marketing and branding. Many of us “”hard core tech writers”” shun marketing as “”fake”” or “”unnecessary fluff.”” Even those of us who don’t deride the practice often have little or no experience in leveraging its tools. But there is tremendous power within the craft of a well-marketed rebrand.
We missed the boat in the 90s. That’s the bad news. The good news is that, with GenAI, we have been given a second chance.  Language and technology are our areas of expertise, after all. In many ways, there is no other industry so well-poised to take the reins of this emerging field than our industry. But will we?
In this talk, we will propose the amalgamation of our work into a rebranded function that fuses our expertise in usability, language, information architecture, and software engineering. We will also equip you with the tools that you need to carry this message forward to your leaders. This is a talk not to be missed.