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When you hear “Internet of Things” (IoT), what do you picture? 

Consumer electronics fans might imagine every device in their home connected to the Internet, all controlled via their smartphone. Logistics wonks might already be designing methods for smart parking lots, or real-time traffic congestion monitoring, or even real-time shipping inventory management. Or, if you’re into marketing and sales — perhaps you think about the opportunity to communicate with consumers through objects (products, buildings, store aisles, etc.).

Whatever the application, one thing is sure: IoT technologies will fundamentally transform how we manage content in the enterprise. 

A convergence is coming. And the businesses that can leverage this convergence will be miles ahead of those who don’t.

3 Keys To Convergence

We can already see how the beginning, bleeding edge experiments with the IoT has influenced content. The exponential explosion of mobile interfaces, and the use of third-party data sources in content optimization have certainly influenced enterprise management strategies. Even the idea of content marketing, and content-driven apps for enhancing product experience has required fundamental shifts in the way business thinks of developing content applications.

Three core ideas will affect the enterprise's ability to scale into these new kinds of applications.

1. The Separation of Content Management and Presentation

This isn’t a new concept of course — but with the growth of IoT technologies, this will become a critical piece of managing both the content AND the thing. Research firm IDC predicts that the global IoT market is going to grow from $656 billion to more than $1.7 trillion in 2020 fueled by “the rise of connected homes, cars and wearable devices.”

All of those devices will have interfaces, which will both deliver content and receive content in the way of instructions. In other words — there will be a need to publish and receive content from the thing being managed, as well as a possible need to manage content in the interface of the app that is managing the thing. 

This will require a complete separation from how content is managed, stored and the presentation layer in whatever the “thing” is. The idea of “close enough” or “mostly separated” will not be good enough in a world where hundreds or thousands of different types of devices are being managed at any one time.

2. Data From 'Things' Will Drive Personalization

It will be increasingly common for personalization to be driven by user behavior and their interaction with things, rather than just content. 

IBM made just such a bet recently with its purchase of the Weather Company for more than $2 billion. The acquisition has little to do with IBM wanting to enter the cable TV business. In fact, the only piece of the company it didn’t acquire was The Weather Channel. 

Rather, it’s all about the data. As a recent Forbes article aptly pointed out: “Big Blue is making a bet that companies will want to spend money on more accurate weather forecasting.”

The data streams that will come from a company’s use of IoT technology will be an incredible source to improve customer experiences at every layer of their journey. Whether it’s using the data to optimize a digital shopping experience, or to personalize content based on their use of a product or service, to even providing helpful upsell opportunities (“we noticed you’re almost out of soap, would you like to purchase more this time”), enterprise content optimization will be directly affected by IoT technology.

Thus, a flexible WCM that can interact with external data sources will become critical to optimizing content for the future.

3. Hybrid Deployment Models Will Manage Things and Content

As the need to manage both the content displayed on the interface of devices, as well as public content displayed through other channels becomes more pronounced, so too does the security concerns about each. A recent study by Fortify revealed that “70 percent of the most commonly used IoT devices contain vulnerabilities, including password, security, encryption and general lack of granular user access permissions.”

IoT content management strategy will therefore require enterprise content management that can simultaneously operate in the cloud, and develop fast, flexible applications for public and non-secure content, as well as bring it into highly secure and hardened infrastructures.

The Confluence of Connected Content and Things

If Gartner is correct, more than 6.4 billion things will be in use by the end of this year, a 30 percent growth from last year. As Jim Tully, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner said, “IoT services are the real driver of value in IoT, and increasing attention is being focused on new services by end-user organizations and vendors.”

You can absolutely bet that content management is one of those core services that will be provided by both end-user organizations and vendors. There’s a storm coming for content management solutions that can deliver in this pervasively connected world. It’s time to start preparing for it.