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All Content Must Prove Value

helpfulcontent.jpgSome believe that because they are not involved in commercial websites they don’t have to prove value. That’s not true. 

If you’re part of a government website, or an intranet, do you really need to prove value? Aren’t people just looking for information? Well, think of the initial launch of US healthcare.gov. It was a fiasco. When the President of the United States is forced — for the first time in history — to apologize for a website, what does that tell you? That government websites matter. That quality government content matters.

Healthcare.gov has improved considerably since it was launched because of a strong focus on making the site simpler and more usable. This focus reflects a major change in thinking. Government websites are no longer content / data storage repositories and propaganda tools. They must instead be functional and useful. They must serve the public, not the politicians or bureaucrats.

It is sad to say in 2014, but most intranets I come across are still terrible. They’re not valued by management. But they have massive potential to increase productivity and efficiency. They can drive innovation and a more flexible, nimble and fast organization by facilitating seamless collaboration and idea sharing. They can help sales people sell better. They can improve process adherence.

If you went to the Head of Process in your organization and told them you could help them increase adherence to processes, policies and procedures, do you think he’d listen? How would you do it?

  1. By simplifying process content
  2. By linking this content to the tasks people do.

A number of years ago we worked on the intranet of a major media company. When you went to the page where you could book a taxi, there was a link that said: “Read the policy or you mightn’t get your expenses back.” People who wanted to book a taxi clicked on that link and read that policy because it made sense in the context of the task they wanted to do. In another intranet for a large software company, the patent application process was simplified by deleting about 80 percent of the content describing how you made an application. Patent application ideas tripled.

You can’t bring people to the content. You have to bring the content to the people who want it now — this second! How successful do you think policy adherence will be if you place all the policies and processes in a policy management system and expect people to remember to go to that system and search for the policy on booking a taxi the next time they need to book a taxi?

When it comes to content we are sitting on a goldmine that we’re managing like a coalmine. We’re watching as value within the traditional content model dwindles, while a few links up the chain, others are striking gold. We need to move up the chain. We need to link and collaborate. We need to think beyond content. Think of the customer first. What are they trying to do? Can we help them complete their task? But it’s not enough to say yes, we can. We have to prove it. We have to prove value. 

Title image courtesy of belekekin (Shutterstock)

About the Author

Gerry McGovern, a content management author and consultant, has spoken, written and consulted extensively on writing for the web and web content management issues since 1994. His latest book is titled The Stranger's Long Neck: How to Deliver What Your Customers Really Want Online.

 
 
 
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