Steven Dock, SVP CMS Research, Content, Natural Language and Publishing, Moody’s Corporation
In 2000, I attended an internet conference and the well-known dotcom keynote said to the very large crowd made up of mostly brick and mortar companies that “content is king” and those that control content would ultimately control the customer and thus the revenue stream. Seventeen years ago that made sense in media and maybe for dot com product companies but most companies in data, transaction and information businesses could not conceive of this for their strong, well protected businesses. However, some things have happened since then.
Information companies built organically grown content organizations within their four walls. These organizations started small by explaining products and services. Over time, these new content producers realized that content could do more particularly in information or data companies. These companies’ content has become an integral part of the business itself and in many cases the very mechanism of how they deliver value to their customers.
Financial Service firms are perfect examples of this evolution. Communication to investors, intermediaries, banks and the companies that are the benefactors of these large transactions require content at all of levels of these very complex transactions. No one in the process would be satisfied with data points alone. They want explanations to connect the dots for them and to make informed decisions. This is how content has become a meaningful part of their brand and their relationship with their customers. Would you buy a stock blindly on a buy recommendation? No, you would want to know why we should buy. What are the fundamentals of the company, what are the risk profiles and what are the likely outcomes? We want to be a part of the choice and the only way for companies to provide that level of connectivity to their customers at scale while keeping transactions costs low is through an efficient content delivery channel.
You can hide a bad content delivery system and business process for a while but ultimately scale, internal controls and business growth will highlight the lack of strategy and capabilities
The good news is these companies have digital assets in their firms that have real market value. The bad news is that these assets are being produced on sole contributors’ desktops in an isolated manner, built into legacy transaction systems as add on features, supported by adjunct business processes and sub-optimized in various silos in their lines of business. You can hide a bad content delivery system and business process for a while but ultimately scale, internal controls and business growth will highlight the lack of strategy and capabilities and as a result your company will be face to face with a content transformation. If that is you or your company then I have some suggestions for you.
Build or Buy? I believe the Harvard Business Review got this right some 18 years ago when they said Buy What You Can and Build What You Must. That means buy a platform with full authoring capabilities, collaboration, supports visualization, approval and vetting and publishes at once to multiple channels both within your control and externally. My suggestion is to look for a platform not a product and from there you can start to build the future. More to come on that one!
Why a Platform? I have this discussion frequently with content management systems. Content creation is not a discrete manufacturing process that creates a single product for singular use. It lives and breathes inside your organization, your customers and the market as a whole. The ability to create, reuse and evolve content is endless. Content can be a market maker and if you do it well, it can drive considerable cost reductions. Fragmented content productions are some of the most expensive business processes in any firm. An ability to create new products both inside and out quickly on a platform is business changing.
What Can Collaboration Really Do for My Company? The definition of collaboration doesn’t just mean communicating and teamwork. It’s making all of the digital assets of the firm available to everyone at the right time to further your reach with your customers and build derivative product to meet their ever growing needs. When I speak about collaboration at conferences the example I like to give is that scene in the movie Minority Report. The detective has the ability to see all the evidence at one across all of the possible dimensions at once. He is quickly able to determine what is meaningful and not and zero in a few seconds on a conclusion. This is exactly what your customers want to do. They want to customize their journey through your content. I hate to tell you that this use case is not the future, it is absolutely the present.
What Is the Future of Content? The answer is machine reading, machine writing and cognitive content. Forget about responsive design. We will be seeing more cognitive design. Content will be facilitated for our personalized needs and we’ll be able to interact without in more meaningful ways. As we move into the world of machine learning and certainly machine driven content delivery, companies will need a sophisticated content delivery system that can plug in and keep up.