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We've got more content at our fingertips than ever before. And the content that we access on our mobile devices is increasingly important for our job responsibilities.

While it's a step in the right direction that enterprises are trying to ensure employees can properly engage with the content they need to be productive, many are losing the fight in the “content is everywhere” paradigm.

Think about it: IDC estimates that the digital universe is doubling every two years and that by 2020 the data we create and replicate annually will reach 44 zettabytes (that's 44 trillion gigabytes). It's no wonder organizations are struggling to reap the full value -- or currency -- of the content that exists across the enterprise.

Roadblocks on the Way to Value

This overwhelming and ever-expanding amount of information is one of the main roadblocks for organizations as they work to ensure the currency of their content. Enabling employees to be able to find specific, relevant content at the exact moment it's needed is both a serious challenge and a business imperative.

Even more, workforces that increasingly rely on mobile are faced with having to find needed information on smaller screens and in different search architectures than are their office-based counterparts. Being able to access the most up-to-date and relevant content in real time, on any mobile device, is critical to improving productivity and getting the most out of corporate content assets.

Other challenges organizations face in combating information overload and gaining the most value from their content include:

Archaic filing architectures

Not many organizations today struggle to create content. In fact, many create much more content than is actually needed by their employees.

When organizations focus on content creation and not on proper organization, or when they complacently ignore the flaws in filing architectures, all of that new content becomes unsearchable and virtually worthless. Content that lives in multiple places -- from network drives to cloud-based files sync-and-share drives, application repositories and enterprise content management systems -- results in corporate data that is fragmented and siloed, with different owners, formats, access privileges and purposes.

Content over-development 

This shouldn't be confused with original content creation. Instead, one of the problems that comes with forcing employees -- especially those on mobile devices and in the field -- to search through files, folders and content repositories is that, when the target content can't be found the moment it is needed, employees resort to recreating assets that already exist. Or they create one-time-use content that is off-message and likely inaccurate.

When enterprises lose control of their content and messaging, productivity suffers and employees spend valuable time searching for or recreating content instead of doing their jobs.

So, what's the secret to turning your enterprise content into currency?

The Answer: Context

The value of content increases exponentially when it's relevant and delivered when, where and how it is needed -- call it the “mobile moment of need.” Let's look at a field service or sales organization that needs to make every customer interaction count. It can benefit by implementing a context-aware system that organizes and pushes the most relevant content its service reps need to accomplish a particular task or that is most effective at a particular stage in a sales process with a specific type of customer.

The formula for increasing the value of content for the mobile workforce consists of four components.

1. Aggregation: When mobile workers save their content on personal hard drives, they unintentionally impede potential collaboration since others cannot access or learn from the content, because it is not discoverable. Because valuable content is created by so many sources, and lives in so many places (file sync-and-share systems, portals, network file shares, applications, blogs, etc.), trying to centralize it in a single repository, system or record such as a content management system is not practical. By aggregating content from a multitude of repositories and sources on one platform, employees can easily find the content they need rather than having to surf through thousands of folders and files.

2. Governance: Version control can be a serious issue. Sales reps, for example, can spend significant time -- hours or even days -- customizing content based on outdated versions. By wrapping a chain of custody around content, organizations can easily remove outdated content from a sales person's mobile device, such as out-of-date pricing tables or expired promotional offers, and replace it with the latest version of the content. This can all be done without asking them to search through file repositories and download the new content (crossing your fingers that they eliminate the old files from their devices).

3. Curation: To reap the most value, content must be pared down to what is most relevant and important, based on specific attributes such as industry, customer type, product, region, timeframe or other conditions, variables or events. Content analytics can provide insights into usage patterns (wouldn't you like to know if your sales team only uses five slides of a 30-slide PowerPoint when meeting with customers?) as well as identify specific content recommendations, based on what the experts across the organization are using most successfully at a particular stage in the sales cycle or for a particular type of customer. Using a guided selling approach enables sales reps to query customers about their unique situations, in real time on their mobile devices. From there, content can be tailored and presented to specifically address the current scenario.

4. Delivery: As consumers and organizations have come to understand, operations on a PC differ greatly from those on a smartphone or tablet. The screen size of laptops and desktops enables workers to manually explore content repositories by clicking through folders. But with mobile devices, employees (and customers) have become accustomed to a very different user experience. Today, mobile workers expect that information will be automatically pushed to their mobile devices, because in a mobile moment of need, employees don't have the time or patience to search for the information.

Content is no longer king: Context is. If organizations want to turn their content into true corporate currency, it must be relevant and accessible in real time. By adding context to every aspect of your enterprise's content efforts -- from changing the way content is stored and organized to ensuring content is pushed to users the moment they need it -- organizations can increase productivity, improve the accuracy of corporate messaging across departments, and revolutionize the way employees interact with content on a mobile device. 

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic LicenseTitle image by  Phillip Pessar