It’s 2012, and the world is literally at our fingertips thanks to PCs, smartphones and tablets. And the widespread use of mobile devices isn’t slowing down anytime soon. This opens up a rapidly increasing number of opportunities for companies to connect with users.

Add the growing influence of social media, and companies now have to develop and present online experiences that incorporate device, location and social media profiles, to name a few! For the content manager, this means pressure to specialize in all aspects of content creation, management, security and more in order to meet today’s user demands.

Exactly how many hats must they wear in order to be successful?

Here are the seven hats we find that today’s content manager must wear in order to develop and deliver the unique context-based experiences that users have come to expect:

1. Content Collectors

Creating value on the web always starts with content. A key part of content development still revolves around being able to leverage that content -- wherever it resides, whatever format it is in and regardless of who has created it. Of course that’s easier said than done, particularly given organizational complexity and the fact that so much good content is still locked up in inaccessible applications and repositories. A lot of time is still spent hunting down the right content.

2. Context Controllers

Content is only valuable to users if it relates specifically to their particular context. Presenting the right type of content to the user at the right time and using the right channel helps immeasurably when it comes to strengthening a user’s engagement with a brand. That’s why context controllers focus on identifying and unlocking the value in user metadata: user account history, preferences, location, time of day or activities from other channels. Gathering that “context data” and putting it to work across all available channels is essential when building online user experiences.

3. Eavesdroppers

Opening up social channels gives every user and non-user a voice. Content developers must be keenly aware of how their brand is being discussed online, try to be involved in the right discussions and help guide conversations when appropriate. This means reinforcing the flow of on-target conversation and responding quickly and tactfully to any potentially damaging statements. User-generated content is an exciting part of today’s content management discipline, but it also brings with it whole new areas of complexity!

4. Concierge

There is plenty of information to share with your users at every stage of the content delivery process, but what goes into developing the optimal online experience? Much like a concierge at a hotel, a content developer must build relationships with users by identifying the high points and low points of online user experiences -- where are processes broken and how can they be improved for the next time this user visits our site? Implementing this feedback and testing the user experience in all settings will eventually create a flawless experience and will also position users to continue to come back for more.

5. Right-Brain Thinkers

While content delivery has traditionally been managed by IT, business users are becoming more involved in the content creation process. The result: content that leverages user context through the creation of business rules. These content developers are able to make the most of the latest context information and can deploy it to anticipate user preferences, helping to drive user engagement.

6. Number Crunchers

All that data from all those sources is a treasure trove of information for content developers. User experience management can largely be improved by sifting through data gathered from the increasing number of analytics tools. This data can tell you whether your users are engaging with your brand via PC or mobile device or whether your users are more likely to engage with you via Twitter instead of Facebook. Armed with this information, content developers can build online experiences that not only align better with the user base, but can also be measured against set sales and marketing goals.

7. Bodyguards

While all this data from user profiles, social media networks, etc., helps companies build better online experiences, 2011 has also shown us that the more data a company has, the more data it has to protect. Thus, it’s not surprising that security is a growing responsibility of a content developer. Content developers need to be better equipped to monitor audit trails, email verification, different authentication protocols, login histories, session management or SSL compatibility to ensure that user data is secure. As we’ve already seen from Sony, a serious data breach will adversely affect the relationship that a company has with its users, thereby stopping the flow of information necessary to create context-based experiences.

User experience management will be a complex task in 2012, and content managers must wear many hats to meet the challenge. While this is no easy feat, it takes all seven hats to build the unique, online experiences that users have come to expect, all the while protecting user data. Perhaps the real question all content developers should ask themselves should be, “Which store sells all seven hats?”

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