How to Mind Details at Scale

Companies of all sizes face a similar content problem: It’s become normal for content to be scattered between CMSs, email, social media, intranets and other silos. Workers on average spend 19 percent of their time looking for information, when their time could be better spent focusing on the core tasks of their job.

What’s an efficiency-minded company to do? 

In business teams, doing anything online requires data as a foundation. Steve sent Jill a marketing deck, and Jill has to add some statistics to it. Doreen shipped some code, Bob has to QA it for bugs and then sends it down the line to Jen for deployment. CEO Rob must approve VP Calvin’s strategy proposal so that Calvin’s team can execute it and send regular updates to the client.

It’s documents and data flying around every day. The point of technology is to funnel information to the next person as quickly as possible, so that said person can work on it and push it forward, helping the entire team accomplish tasks.

Because so many different tools are involved in a company’s online ecosystem, documents get stuck in the pipes and users spend hours per month searching for versions and trying to figure out who made the last tweak, and when. Everyone feels a sense of urgency, everyone wants to accomplish something quickly so that they can move on to the next thing and be done with their workday. But when those urgently changed documents end up in a bin in some shadow of the virtual office environment, and Mary in marketing has to stick her fingers in every other virtual bin before finding the right document, opportunity costs make all your technology a zero-sum game.

Smoothing the Workflow with Automation

This is where automation shines, and why it’s become so important for companies. Automation stops information from getting stuck in the pipes. By automating your most important workflows, you can keep the wheel of work turning, and feed your workers the information they need, when they need it.

Here are some of the places where automation makes a big difference:

Shipping code

As development and operations have combined into the single programming-deployment organization known as DevOps, continuous integration and automation have become important parts of the delivery process. DevOps teams run automated scripts to test and QA their software and trace bugs, helping team members focus on the higher-ROI work, such as developing new code, rather than the repetitive tasks.

Embedded analytics

One of the reasons analytics have become a mainstay in areas like marketing and customer service is that they automate the tasks of troubleshooting problems, tracking success and finding new opportunities. Rather than dedicating people to investigating why things happen -- and risking getting those analyses stuck in some silo -- embedded analytics chart out correlations that help people decide what to do next, and quickly.

Content creation and proliferation

The content lifecycle is supposed to end in recycling, but too often, considering the number of information silos in the average business, they end in loss. The more you can automate the procedures that push content forward, such as delivery across channels, translation and localization, and social campaign replies, the more you can take maximize each opportunity in the content you already have.

Eventually -- ideally -- the average business will have so many automated processes that workers will be freed up for higher levels of collaboration, efficiency and decision-making. We’re still a ways off, but if current technology holds up to its promise, we’re getting closer by the year.

Title image by mandritoiu /