Now that you’ve conducted a content audit, designed your content strategy, and considered content management options, it’s time to adopt a solution. At Quark we advocate content automation for enterprise organizations that create content that has one or more of the following characteristics:
When content automation is appropriate, the results are extremely valuable. Productivity goes up, time to market is reduced, you can support more content products without adding resources, and you improve the quality of your content.
So, how can you identify potential content automation solutions and avoid some common pitfalls? As you get started on your content automation journey and weigh potential solutions you will want to consider the importance of the following aspects. Refer back to the results of your content audit and content strategy to outline the following requirements:
List how many authors, collaborators, and reviewers are a part of your content creation and review processes. Consider how this team may grow in the future.
List the systems your content operations currently interact with and the systems it will need to interact with. This will help determine how extensible your solution must be.
Security and Compliance
Make a list of regulatory mandates that your company must follow, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), the Sarbanes Oxley Act, and any enterprise privacy policies.
Ability to Create and Deliver Multi-Channel Output
Make a list of the type of content you create today and will need to create in the future to best interact with your customers, partners, and employees. Your content automation solution must support the range of output you list.
Share requirements in these areas with your selected content automation vendors and it will help you short list the software options. While evaluating the content automation solutions that make the cut, it is also important to be cognizant of and escape some common pitfalls. Some hazards to avoid:
Are you taking the next step to advance your content strategy? Contact Quark to schedule a discovery meeting and our team will help determine if content automation is right for you. You can also download your free copy of the Beginner’s Guide to Content Automation today!
Regardless of your industry, the first step towards a successful content strategy is understanding your content. Although it can be a daunting process, the best way to truly understand your content is to conduct a content audit. A content audit will ultimately help you select the best solutions for improving how you create, manage, publish, and deliver business-critical information to customers, partners, and employees.
So how can you conduct a content audit to get the most value? We boiled down the process into eight critical steps.
Step 1: Define the Objectives and Scope
Before beginning a content audit, you need to define your business and end-user objectives as well as document your authoring and maintenance objectives. Where possible, your objectives should be defined in specific, measurable terms. For example, a possible business objective for a life sciences organization could be to reduce staff training time by five percent for the roll-out of new pharmaceutical products. A content consumer objective might be to reduce the time it takes for customer support teams to find relevant information to no more than seven seconds.
Step 2: Plan Surveys and Inventories
In the content audit, you are on a mission to address questions related to your content, such as:
To answer these questions you will need to create surveys and inventories for content teams within your organization to complete. In this step, you are creating the documentation that will help you learn how content teams are structured, including roles and responsibilities, content types created, and how final content is delivered.
Step 3: Perform Document and Infrastructure Inventory
In many companies, documents are stored in multiple places, which can be a source of inefficiency and result in errors. To understand where documents live, you will need to conduct a document inventory, which is a quantitative assessment of all content assets, including documents, graphics, charts, photographs, spreadsheets, etc. In this step, you will:
The information you gather here will help in step four.
Step 4: Document Inventory Information
Once you understand your content and where it’s stored, formalize your inventory with more detail about each content asset. You will need to collect and organize the following foundational information about each asset:
Step 5: Identify Guidelines and Standards
In this step, you will identify which guidelines and standards apply to your content. Here are some examples of possible guidelines and standards for document and content types:
Step 6: Conduct User and Author Surveys
Earlier, in step 2, you planned for user and author surveys. Now is the time to select users and authors for the survey. Be sure to:
When you survey your authors, include all individuals who are responsible for creating and updating documents that are included in the content audit. With the survey, you are looking for first-hand knowledge of why, how, and by whom content is created, approved, and stored.
Step 7: Perform the Document Audit
The document audit is a qualitative evaluation of the document set and requires the content surveys to be completed and responses analyzed. The purpose is to establish a baseline for the current state of the documents. You will find out:
If the documents you are auditing have multiple audiences, conduct separate audits for each audience.
Step 8: Perform Document Analysis
The document analysis follows the document audit and should consider all the results from the various surveys and direct observations. The document analysis determines the necessary next steps for implementing a content automation solution. Common issues highlighted during content audits include:
Step 9 and Beyond
Steps 1-8 will help you fully understand your content and highlight your best practices and areas for improvement. As a result of a content audit, many enterprise organizations confirm the urgency with which they must move away from ad-hoc content creation and management strategies to more formalized content automation processes.
Are you considering conducting a content audit but would like more information? Contact Quark or download the Beginner’s Guide to Content Automation and begin to learn how a content audit can enable you to start planning and designing your content strategy today!
Earlier this year Quark partnered with TSAM (The Summit for Asset Management) to find out how asset management companies approach content creation, management, and delivery. We surveyed 111 professionals in a variety of asset management roles and found that the majority of respondents struggle to create and maintain data-heavy content types, such as financial research reports, pitchbooks, commentaries, product profiles, fund marketing assets, and more.
As we analyzed the data, it’s clear that three main content challenges plague asset management teams.
#1 Keeping Up with Digital Transformation
Digital transformation is driving change in nearly every aspect of today’s enterprise and, in most cases, requires fundamental improvements to traditional content strategies. In our survey, asset management professionals reported a wide range of digital transformation initiatives with the top three being: reducing reliance on paper, moving content online, and improving intranet/portal content consumption experiences for employees.
#2 Maintaining Consistency across Channels
There is no doubt customers want (and need) more digital content. In fact, 83% of survey respondents said their customers want more Web content, more mobile content, or both. However, almost 75% of respondents admitted to being dissatisfied with their digital content capabilities and more than 50% reported having no confidence in the consistency of their content across print, Web, and mobile channels. Fulfilling the customer requirement for more Web and mobile content is only worthwhile if the content is accurate.
#3 Relying on Outdated Tools and Technology
The content challenges associated with digital transformation and omni-channel publishing are only compounded by the fact that the majority of asset management companies still rely on shared or local file systems to manage their business-critical content. Sixty two percent of respondents stated that they find it hard to manage the document variations needed to support country and business unit requirements. It’s tough to stay competitive without modern systems that streamline content creation and management.
Addressing Challenges with Content Automation
Although these are complex pain points, new content automation solutions are already helping asset management companies solve their content challenges. By moving away from document-centric workflows and adopting structured content, it’s possible to address every challenge listed above to speed time-to-market and increase customer satisfaction.
We hope you’ll join us at TSAM New York on June 21 to attend our session “Transforming Fund Marketing with Content Automation.” You will learn more about how your organization can get ahead of competitors and drastically decrease the time and costs associated with creating, formatting, reviewing, and distributing business-critical content.
Nick Howard has over two decades of experience in enterprise software, working around the globe from the United Kingdom and Europe to New Zealand, Australia and the United States. As senior director of sales enablement for Quark, Nick is focused on solving customers’ specific content challenges. He has met with hundreds of customers across corporate, marketing, and enterprise publishing functions and is adept at turning challenges into real world software requirements.
Innovation in how you approach and overcome obstacles should have a lot to do with the path you want to travel. I enjoy hiking trails in the wilderness. Which trail I select will determine if my hike is a dud or remarkable, especially this time of year.
Hiking in the spring can be fraught with obstacles such as fallen timber and raging streams. I always anticipate some acceptable risk and am not surprised when trails require that I find a different way – a better way – to get back on the path to a remarkable experience.
Innovation in business is similar. A business that wants to be different – remarkable – won’t be on the same path as every other company. Innovative businesses are constantly looking for new paths that allow them to be more successful. Often times these paths include complex obstacles to overcome.
One area where innovative leaders are forging new paths is in content strategy. Multi-channel content delivery is a competitive requirement today, which has added a tremendous amount of complexity to creating and managing content. This is especially true for the already complex content that helps organizations sell or run their businesses.
Like a flood across the trail, content processes today are fraught with obstacles. Valuable information is trapped in silos that become difficult for others to use. Or, content becomes unwieldy in heavy structures that add even more complexity. Well-intentioned content standards developed to solve business problems a decade ago can be a source of friction for transforming businesses today. How big of a bridge do you need to cross the stream?
Few businesses build products and services to be like everyone else. And, customers are looking for outcomes that will deliver a competitive advantage. How does a business differentiate their intellectual assets in human capital and valuable content to deliver optimum results? Often overlooked, adoption of best practices in content processes across organizations or the entire enterprise can be keystone to new business growth.
Trying to overcome content and process obstacles in the same way as everyone else may get you to the other side. But, where do you go from there? What path are you on? What remarkable outcomes do you and your customers gain?
Reconsider your approach to content. Do you have to stay on the same path or can you choose a new, better direction? Build the right bridge on the right path that everyone in your organization can follow, not just a chosen few. Ensure it delivers value.
It’s time to examine best practices in business-critical content. With content automation businesses can differentiate by eliminating complexity in how they create, manage, publish and deliver content. Customers can realize the outcomes in products and services promised without heavy structures.
Be brilliant! Build a bridge and get over it.
Today at TSAM London Quark revealed the findings of a survey we conducted among asset management professionals to learn more about their approach to content creation, management, and delivery. The research was conducted among the TSAM community, which stands for The Summit for Asset Management. Global TSAM events attract financial services organizations interested in staying competitive.
Our research, based on 111 survey respondents, uncovers universal content challenges asset management companies face – from reliance on outdated technology solutions to increased demand for Web and mobile content. The findings highlight how content teams struggle to effectively produce and provide multi-channel information to internal and external audiences.
Ultimately, our research confirms that the demands for content have changed dramatically in the past decade while tools used to create and manage content have changed very little. This makes it almost impossible for asset management firms to deliver timely and accurate multi-channel content, which is a competitive requirement in today’s business landscape.
To address and solve content challenges, we at Quark advocate content automation, an evolution of enterprise content management that minimizes risk, improves the customer experience, ensures compliance, and eases the burden most content teams face today.
Gavin Drake is Vice President of Marketing for Quark Enterprise Solutions where he drives the adoption of content platforms that leverage automation to improve every stage of the content lifecycle. By moving away from creating static, siloed documents to creating reusable content components, it’s possible to reduce costs, improve content quality, and operate more competitively.
In November 2016 Quark was proud to be named once again to the EContent 100, EContent Magazine’s list of the top 100 companies that matter most in the digital content industry. Quark was selected based on its comprehensive solutions for content automation.
As digital transformation continues to drive organizations everywhere to transform their content strategies, content automation is critical. Now is a good time to revisit thoughts from Ray Schiavone, Quark President and CEO, from an EContent 100 View from the Top profile. The brief profile describes content automation and the value it brings to companies that must create, manage, publish, and deliver multi-channel content with precision.
“Our mission at Quark is to help large organizations transform customer experience through content automation. We do this with our content automation platform that removes manual and error-prone tasks from traditional content workflows. With content automation our customers are able to reduce time to market from months to weeks, weeks to days, and days to minutes.”
Today’s businesses create an overwhelming amount of content, most of which is critical to the vitality of their organization. And while the way people find and read content across multiple channels has changed beyond recognition, the traditional content process has essentially gone unchanged for decades. Infusing every stage of the content life cycle with automation helps get the right content to the right audience at the right time.
Read more about content automation in EContent magazine.
When the content world was print-centric, organizations only had to think in terms of producing print content in order to reach their audience. Sure, creating multiple versions of that print content had complications, but those were largely manageable through manual processes and desktop tools.
While the initial move from print-only to print and web was slow, the acceleration in multi-channel content has been tremendous. The figure below illustrates the shift from the old content paradigm to the new omni-channel world.
When you consider the cost of creating content, reviewing and approving content, running compliance checks in regulted industries, publishing the content, distributing the content and then making updates to that content, the business cost is significant. When you consider doing it across multiple channels, the cost is prohibitive.
You could simply decide not to support all of these channels – and you certainly need to assess your customers’ and employees’ content-consumption preferences. However, the rise of digital content, social media, and mobile devices – even wearable tech like the Apple Watch – has resulted in more empowered, better-informed customers and employees with high expectations that you’ll need to meet in order to win and retain them.
Your customers, in particular, not only expect content across all of the channels, but also want it to be immediately accessible, relevant, and engaging.
Is mobile fragmentation and its associated costs a challenge that your organization needs to overcome? Download the Beginner’s Guide to Content Automation and begin to learn how to move away from traditional content workflows and processes and towards content automation.
Enterprise system architecture can be evaluated from many different perspectives. Similar to conventional building architecture, a solid system design must consider several different criteria to maximize the pragmatic features of the engineered construction. When we talk about Enterprise Architecture, several criteria are commonly used to gauge the success or failure of the architecture:
Among the various best practices is the question raised in the title around open architectures.
When engineering an enterprise solution architecture, many criteria matter. Open architecture matters because practically every enterprise solution must meet the non-functional requirement of co-existing in an established technical ecosystem. Enterprise systems must interact with each other to accomplish business tasks and these systems may be provided by separate vendors, built in-house, or rely on 3rd party APIs as a layer for interfacing with various web services and systems.
This article highlights the benefits of truly open and relevant standards as related to enterprise architecture.
Open architecture differs from open source. Open source software involves sharing raw source code to facilitate crowdsharing benefits in building out the code. Open architecture is focused on easily decoupling data from the proprietary layers of the code, so that data can easily be transferred with other systems and business logic. It also has to do with the architecture being easily and highly extensible on the back end, so that any front end (user experience or integration to other applications) can be applied through a robust, fully-featured API. System to system communications must be easy, reliable, and efficient.
Even when an architecture is implemented by proprietary technologies, we still consider it open if the architecture is able to facilitate data transfer in and out of the system and support data transfers across systems. In addition to direct API support, this includes access to system functionality via meaningful layers of abstraction to serve as the glue between business rules and other enterprise systems.
Quark Publishing Platform is an Enterprise Java Web Application built on the open source Spring Framework. That means it’s scalable, secure, incredibly extensible, and easily adopted by IT departments with sophisticated and challenging requirements. We support major investment banks with their extremely complex IT requirements, as well as small 20-person shops that just need “out of the box” to work well.
Extensibility is core to every product we build and every enhancement we make:
A tremendous amount of Quark capabilities come from our integration with XML:
It’s a common best practice to avoid attaching your data to a proprietary system or application. At a recent professional conference, Eliot Kimber humorously compared some highly proprietary content management systems to roach hotels: “content checks in but it doesn’t check out.”
At the simplest level, an enterprise component content management system architecture must provide rich methods to extract data. While this is commonly available in one-off operations, it’s important for enterprise systems to consider orders of magnitude when it comes to the execution of any single task. In other words, extracting a single asset or collection of assets from your system is only the beginning. Enterprise applications often need to import or extract data based on a number of factors including business process, queries based on traceability or auditing, or when making global transformations to data entering or existing an enterprise system. Doing it once is part of the answer, but doing it at scale is often required by customers with requirements for automation during multiple steps of the content life cycle.
How is this done? It depends on the system, but a common best practice is to provide import/export features to various data formats or even .zip archives representing a data dump of variable scope. It’s even better when these transactions can be managed by REST-based calls which may be invoked programmatically. Better still, rich REST-based APIs should provide a headless and efficient means of extracting all assets, including every version and all metadata for each asset, without introducing proprietary structures that interfere with the usefulness of the extract. These mechanisms do very little good if the customer’s original data structure is changed or rendered useless. For example, if references use a proprietary model instead of a standards-based approach like a URI pattern. Yes, this still happens.
Every elegant design should seek to simplify the most common tasks for end users, but also consider the administrative needs required to properly care and feed the system. It’s the rare design that also takes into consideration these additional unforeseen use cases and exposes additional layers of tooling to simplify configuration without high-cost services. Every system architecture should also consider its own end of life and the necessity to interact across initially incompatible systems in the enterprise ecosystem.
From time to time, technologists conduct due diligence and feasibility analysis to help them arrive at decisions on acquiring new/replacement products or services. More often, such research is based on some quick Internet searches. To remain relevant, the best technologists will read as much as they can every day. They will also go beyond the research to get hands on experience with those same products and services on a periodic basis to better understand exactly how the offerings have changed and validate or invalidate their understanding. Sometimes the technology changes significantly and in very good ways. At other times, the review is nothing more than the regurgitation of some fluffy buzz words used as click bait and the technology has actually stagnated. How will you know the difference? For example, one vendor might state “A robust API for integration with any other system,” which sounds pretty good. But what if you learned that the vendor only offered their API technology in an older standard called CORBA, widely considered a dead technology since 2004? Understanding how to ask the right questions is crucial to making good decisions.
Change is abundant, increasing in frequency, and far-reaching in scope. Technologies come and go, and yet it’s common for many business not to see a return on technology investment for 3 to 5 years. Therefore, the solution architecture must be robust enough to withstand and embrace the inevitable changes. These may be impossible to predict in every case. If the system is to remain relevant and deliver its value over the system’s life cycle, this additional layer of research is invaluable. Almost every vendor is willing to give a demo or build a snazzy web site, but how many of them will stand up a live proof of concept solution and let you play with it to test it out against your actual requirements versus the filtered language that appears in an RFP or its response? And how much of your RFP is devoted to ensure that reasonable architectural requirements are identified?
Easy integration starts with proven architectural frameworks for web-based applications. Those frameworks are constantly evolving and changing, so any solid architecture will build out further tooling, back-end improvements, 3rd party technology partnerships, and flexibility for the continuously evolving front-end frameworks as well.
Let’s look at another example of easy integration. Many organizations manage assets using proprietary formats and aren’t ready to make the full transition to XML across the enterprise. That’s why the Quark Publishing Platform also supports managing InDesign documents and components (though we don’t provide any automation of InDesign documents). Otherwise, InDesign is treated as a first class application and content type for those that need it. Similarly, MS Office documents have robust support and some, such as Excel, PowerPoint, and Visio can be a source of reusable components in XML. Of course, Platform also supports reusable components for QuarkXPress projects, Quark XTensions, and QuarkXPress server publishing channels to assemble reusable pipelines for omni-channel publishing and delivery to HTML5, ePub, App Studio, PDF, 3rd party ECMs like FileNet and SharePoint, and more.
Quark owns all of the major technology in our enterprise system architecture that provides the business value for content automation. One of the strengths of having a broad solution stack is that we can manage and synchronously release updates and enhancements according to our schedule and prioritization without having to wait for a 3rd party to decide if they agree, shall prioritize, or deliver in a timely manner.
Of course, we still integrate several components into our system that do rely on 3rd parties. It makes perfect sense in many cases, so we carefully evaluate and select those open-source and proprietary partners who work with us to provide the best value for our customers at a reasonable cost. One significant driving factor is the underlying technical architecture and how responsive these 3rd party vendors can be to us. Just like our customers expect high quality and tight turnaround for fixes and features, we expect the same of our partners and appreciate when we have a strong rapport based on results.
Even proprietary technologies can and must play more nicely together. The underlying Quark technical infrastructure has recently captured some attention for supporting other proprietary formats:
A key measure for proving an architecture starts with asking the right questions. A truly open architecture is not present if it is dominated by proprietary software that simply imports/exports formats from one product to another. We must dig deeper to examine the underlying technical landscape.
Here are some questions worth asking: