feng shui master's luopan

Donna Tuths has been, in one form or another, a content evangelist over the course of her 25-year career. 

She was a partner in communications and media at Andersen Consulting. She was the CEO of Ogilvy & Mather’s Ogilvy Healthworld. Now, at New York City-based Accenture Interactive she is the global managing director of Content Services. 

So it is noteworthy that Tuths was “blown away” by one of the survey results that made its way into Accenture Interactive's newly-released report "Content: The H20 of Marketing."

Who Should Own the Content?

"We asked respondents who in organization should own the content strategy," she told CMSWire. "We gave them a number of choices, and 90 percent identified a C-suite executive." More startlingly, she said, 35 percent identified the CEO.

There are several interesting trends discussed in the report, but first a word about the title. Water, of course, is an essential resource that needs to be conserved, monitored and above all valued because the world does not have a limitless supply. The same analogy applies to content for the enterprise.

This is old news to content strategists such as Tuths, who has had the pleasure of companies coming to her for years to organize and strategically align content inventories that have been haphazardly sourced, organized and deployed. It  is akin, one can imagine, to a overwhelmed professional who visits her CPA once a year to dump 12 months worth of scattered receipts, invoices and canceled checks on the desk.

That the overwhelming majority of respondents to the survey — a global group of more than 1,000 senior executives with decision-making responsibilities for content— saw the need to push its management into the C-suite was very, very telling to Tuths.

Ever since companies began developing digital content, say ten or fifteen years ago, they have approached it from the division level and oftentimes on an ad hoc basis. 'We need marketing materials on why XYZ product is perfect for ABC consumer group in London? We've got a freelancer in London. Coming right up!'

Now add video to the mix, which is quickly becoming the most important – and bandwidth intensive – digital asset of them all.

Now add mobile to the mix. If the company hadn’t been modularizing its content (preparing it so it can be easily converted to any format) everything must be redone from scratch or close to it.

Now add demographics to the mix, which show there is no sign of the demand for content peaking.

The Report's Money Stat

Any of these issues at the micro level can be addressed on a one off basis, which actually is what most companies have been doing, more or less, Tuths said. "But it will not work on an enterprise-sized scale, at least not systematically."

All of which is to explain why the report's money stat is that 90 percent of respondents who say content management should be a C-level responsibility.

"Companies are starting to wake up the enormity of the task that faces them with their out-of-control content," she said. "We hadn’t really seen signs of that before."

Admitting you have a problem, as they say, is half the battle. Unfortunately for companies that are in this predicament, the hardest half may be in front of them.

Content really has become a drag on performance, as the Accenture Interactive study shows and radical measures may be necessary to reposition its role within the enterprise.

Companies, to borrow another popular image or meme, need to declutter their content closets, organize them for future use and develop rules for future creation. 

It wouldn't be too far gone to suggest they need to apply some of the principles of feng shui — the Chinese philosophical approach of harmonizing objects with their surrounding environment — to content strategies.  It is no accident that Tuths and her team have designed a soothing, white-wall rooms in which to meet clients and develop these strategies.

Consider Design Elements

To be clear, Tuths is not telling people to feng shui their content. (Translation: anyone wanting to critique or troll this article because feng shui is too woo woo for content management, please contact me, not her.)

But as you do I would love to hear other possible explanations that one could draw from the report's findings.

For example, right now 55 percent of content is produced locally. That suggests people on the ground are controlling content strategies. 

Yet, when asked about the future they acknowledge content management strategies need to be aligned for a global audience. Indeed, 83 percent of the respondents believe that two years from now they will produce more content globally, and 74 percent of organizations expect to increase the use of decoupling and outsourcing approaches for critical content management and production approaches. 

How will they manage that transition, other than a radical redesign of their content management approach?

Addressing Waste, ROI

Also, one in five respondents told Accenture Interactive that they feel they are not leveraging their content effectively. There is a sense that the return-on-investment on the content is not where it should be. 

Indeed, Tuths tells me that she has calculated that 35 percent of all content created for an enterprise is "wasted" — that is, it hasn't been reused, wasn't tagged properly or wasn’t modularized to begin with. 

How long will shareholders and investors of companies put up with such major leakage? And when they put their collective feet down, how will the companies respond? By centralizing and decluttering their content processes, that's how.

Finally there was this stat: 100 percent of marketing leaders believe that internal and external facing digital content is valuable for meeting business objectives. I hardly need to put that one in context.