BOSTON -- What's on the minds of attendees at the Gilbane Conference at the Fairmont Copley Hotel this week? 

Content. What to do with it. Determining who's reading it. How to analyze it. How to make it relevant. What technologies to use to push it. When enough is enough.

The content challenge drove many of the presentations at the annual conference — and certainly the conversations we had with some of the conference attendees.

The Question

What's on your 2016 digital radar?

J Ackley, Senior Director, Ivie & Associates

headshot of j ackley of ivie and associates

Ackley is a senior director for Flower Mound, Texas-based Ivie & Associates, a marketing solutions company. He leads both Information Services (IS) and the Information Technology (IT) teams in providing global application and infrastructure for the company. Tweet to J Ackley

A big part of it is the data. We’re getting so much data. Right now we’re in the planning stage of building out APIs to connect all of this. We have all these disparate programs and we’re trying to find a common way to move the data to have a better understanding of it and disseminate back to the client in a way their eyes don’t go back into their heads. 

So what we’ve done is moved into a lot of charting, and we actually push these out on a weekly schedule to our clients so they can see what’s really happening in their business.

The next piece is reaching into what the store experience is for these clients. We’re looking at beacons and bringing that experience in. The best example is Kohl's. As soon as you walk in, it’s, "Hey join our wireless network." And it starts presenting you with coupons. There is a lot of growth in that area in the retail space. Moving that data back and forth is a big part of it.

Another focus is employee engagement and getting that information out so our clients know what is happening. So we can say, "Hey look what this client is doing." It actually feeds that information back out of field so they can present it to their client. 2016 is the year of data.

Charmaine Green, Manager, Farm Credit Canada

headshot of charmaine green of fcc canada

Green is responsible for managing the content distribution for the FCC, Canada’s agriculture lender. She is based in Regina, Saskatchewan.Tweet to the FCC

For 2016 we’re looking at enhancing our employee experience for content on the intranet. We need more integration making it a one-stop shop for people. And another thing is decluttering, getting rid of the noise, sharing information people have access to. Give them something they can trust and have confidence in. We also want to enhance enterprise search. 

We actually train people not to use the search which is so counter-intuitive but it was because search was so bad. So we have to retrain them to say it’s not too bad right now and we’re only going to make it better. That’s the internal focus right now  — push this whole concept of a single source of truth where you do have that increased confidence and trust in information. And it’s in a format you can scan and get the answer you need quickly.

We want to move toward mobile. Right now you can’t access everything you need. People on the road are working with rural customers, printing out information. They’re texting from the office, doing what they need to do. So it’s how do we get that information in the palm of their hand quickly and easily and make it seamless so that they don’t have to worry about that. We want to make that experience that much easier for employees so that they can improve the customer experience to help our customers achieve what they want. 

Fred Faulkner, Director, ICF Interactive

headshot of icf interactive fred faulkner

Faulkner is a marketing technologist who is responsible for lead generation, messaging, marketing strategy, business partnerships and alliances, digital initiatives and product development at his Chicago-based global digital agency. Tweet to Fred Faulkner

Two investments we're looking at: one is skill sets and their teams to support the promise of personalization and user experience. Everyone sees the golden egg. 

Ok, great, these experience platforms are telling me I can get all this targeting and all this other great stuff, but at the end of the day they’re not staffed. They don’t have the right skill set internally to actually to execute it. I’ve seen companies invest big dollars into these platforms and they're getting the typical 90-10 rule — I've got this great platform but I only use 10 percent of it. 

Organizations will benefit investing in people to support and use the platform to the best of their ability. That’s where you’re going to find your ROI. 

Being able to execute and test and reuse. Customers can walk. If their experience isn’t spot on they're going somewhere else. If you’ve got inexperienced people running the shop and being enabled to use the platforms, you’re sending money to your competitors. 

Invest in people, invest in processes, invest in marketing ops, marketing technologists. Get people to help blend IT and marketing roles together. Those partnerships will pay dividends using the platform you have.

Kathleen Bostick, EVP, North America, SDL

headshot of SDL's Kathleen Bostick

Bostick was SDL’s first US employee in 1996 and spent the next nine years establishing the company as a language provider within North America. She returned in 2014 as vice president responsible for Language Solutions, which includes Language Services and Technology, in North America. Tweet to Kathleen Bostick.  

Our role is to educate and evangelize the value of global content management. For so many customers it’s the after-thought. You have to think global. 

You’re global. You’re on the web. Our goal is to educate people on the complete global customer experience including content management to translation management.

There is too much content. We just did a delivery summit on the West Coast, and one of our keynotes was talking about how there is too much content. 

Everyone's got content coming from users, from marketing, from everywhere, and you multiply that by language, and it’s just this massive explosion. You’ve got to ask yourself, do you really need all that content? Who’s reading all that content? 

So instead of creating more content, we need to figure out what do we need and what are people reading. Analyze where people are going and what’s valuable. Pare down your content to what your readers want.

John Bitzer, Global Director, EY

headshot of John Bitzer of Ernst & Young

Bitzer is responsible for EY’s digital content strategy for the external marketplace, for ensuring that the firm’s digital channels are best in class and for delivering compelling content every day by optimizing each channel in innovative ways. Tweet to John Bitzer

Our current systems is eight-plus years old. In Internet years that’s ancient. And it’s not giving purpose anymore. 

Templates are very structured. It's too dependent on IT making every little taxonomy change. It's not fast, not scalable and we’ve customized it to death. That’s a sign that you need a new platform. 

We need to be faster and more agile and more have more flexibility. 

We’re a big global firm so we need something that handles 140 different country versions so the questions we’re looking at is cloud vs. on-premises, although that’s probably an answer that's already been proven. 

We’re going through a transformation where a lot of the processes of creating content are kind of old-school. We're hoping a new system can help.