Cleve Gibbon

content management, content modelling, digital ecosystems, technology evangelist.

technology and content folks are still disconnected

csforum11-badgeLast week at the Content Strategy Forum 2011 in London I gave a presentation on The Strategist and the Executioner. It was my first outing at a content strategy conference. I met some very smart people and got some great “in the corridor” insights from seasoned content strategists. I learnt lots.

I also found that content folks (strategists) and technologists (executioners) are still somewhat disconnected. The resulting gap has seemingly become an acceptable place to commit car crash content projects with all the usual excuses/finger pointing from both camps. We’re in a bit of a mess. However, my newcorridor content friends were acutely aware of these problem(s) and were full of ideas on how we can clean up the mess. However, as a group we seem to be failing to effectively execute on even the basic ideas. And so the CMS remains the problem of executioners and content the problem of strategists. We need to fix this!

Fortunately, the talks on day one were recorded and those attended by @currybet were comprehensively written up here. However, if I was going to call out one presentation, it would be Karen McGrane’s talk on what’s next for content strategy because it addressed the aforementioned content and technology gap problem head on. I don’ see people talk about stuff like this very often but I know we all face it our projects. We have the ideas but are failing to implement and/or share our experiences solving them. So, distilling Karen’s talk down into the key points that resonated loudest with me we have:

  • CMS is the enterprise software that UX forgot.
  • Your CMS workflow is every bit tied to revenue as the customer journey.
  • Very few CMS’s have analytics on CMS usage.
  • Think create once, publish everywhere (COPE).
  • Metadata is the new art direction (via @studip101).
  • Have a cohesive strategy for creating reusable content across platforms.

The CMS is a tool that is continually being left for executioners to do magic with. The reality is that developers and designers are craving upstream input from stakeholders, sponsors and authors on how best they should adapt the CMS to satisfy their needs. It rarely happens. So, executioners try to do more with less. The result are the CMS projects we have today. Some good. The majority, not so good.

The CMS should serve its primary audience – those responsible for creating content – authors! Not customers. Authors. On the CS Forum closing panel moderated by Kristina Halvorson of Brain Traffic, Kristina pointed out three ways to add business value: increase revenue, reduce cost and raise customer satisfaction. A successful CMS implementation adds business value by raising the satisfaction levels of your internal customers (administrators, authors, reviewers) which in turn increases revenue and/or reduces cost. The only way to increase the satisfaction of internal customers is to make them more proficient and productive in their day-to-day jobs by making everything they do low effort. And truth be told, if you’re playing the long game, shoot for loyal customers, not satisfied ones.

CS Forum 11 was an eyeopener for me. Instead of executioners accepting the fact that they are always last to the party, technologists and UX need to step up and close the gap. We don’t do a great job of communicating the capabilities the underlying tools early and comprehensively enough for strategists/clients to make informed business decisions on them. Also, we need to work closer with strategists to raise awareness in organisations that we are peers and that production is NOT a downstream fait accompli activity. This was basis for my presentation and something I’ll expand upon in a follow up post.

But for now, another big back slap to JonathanRandall and Destry for getting all those content and technology folks in one room (with customers). Awesome!

Category: content strategy

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About Cleve Gibbon



I'm Cleve Gibbon, CTO at Cognifide where we are passionate about digital content.

My sort of up-to-date cv tells you my past, linked in shows you my professional network and on twitter you can find out what I'm currently doing.

This year I plan attend a number of events. Hopefully I'll see you there. I'm easy to find as I'm always laughing. Find out more about me and get in touch!