Have you ever asked, what is content? What makes it smart? At the Smart Content Conference in New York City today, a panel was tasked with delving into the ins and outs of content, as we know it within the enterprise and beyond.

A Panel of Visionaries

It’s one thing to bring together a panel of content experts, but it’s another when you call them visionaries. This morning’s Visionaries Panel included a highly qualified and experienced panel tackling the kinds of issues that smart content aims to handle.

Moderated by John Blossom, president of Shore Communications, Inc, the panel brought together Michael O. Lavitt, director of online and editorial production at Aviation Week; Natasha Fogel, executive vice president of Edelman Strategy One; and Mark Stefik, a research fellow at the Palo Alto Research Center.

The panel set out to address three major questions:

  • What is the big problem that you’re trying to solve?
  • How does smart content help you to solve it?
  • Where is smart content bringing us?

Before the panel was presented, John Blossom defined content, calling it

information and experiences that give value to audiences in specific contexts.

Indeed, the visionaries panel lent great insight into how their experiences have given value to a diverse spectrum of users. Here’s a snapshot of what was said.

Connecting Content

Michael: At Aviation Week, our portfolio and information was built into silos. There is no easy way to get back and forth between information. Having a way to integrate data and guide customers from one piece of content to another is necessary. Integrating data from other sources is imperative as well. There is no one place, there are multiple areas of focus that have overlap or can be enhanced by integrating with other data feeds.

Mark: We all have attention-based economies and go in search of information. But how do you search smartly? Figuring it out is the difference between talking with someone who knows what they are talking about and talking with someone who is wasting your time. But there's also the question of how to answer people’s questions quickly and accurately? The tools needed are emerging and skills are changing rapidly.

Content Availability

John: What about immediacy? How do you meet demands and deliver what people want right now? What’s the now aspect of stuff you’re trying to get at with these technologies?

Michael: We have deep data and no one knows how to find it. The challenge is giving people the tools they need without having to train them extensively. Want to create data that can be integrated into people’s daily workflow.

Natasha: We’re constantly monitoring, like trend analysis and tracking to see what’s emerging. Determining how much faster can we get the data to our clients is a big challenge. Finding ways to leverage data in place with analysis.

Content Overload

Q: How to design for abundance? How to you account for information overload?

Natasha: What is the specific goal? What is the specific audience? We ask that so we can find the most appropriate information. We try to stick to priorities. With trend analysis, it can take longer to deliver, but it has helped us with product and messaging strategy. Helps to keep what’s relevant and look to what’s most credible.

The Future of Smart Content?

Ultimately there was more to this conversation than just these remarks, but what was interesting and notable is that across industries, managing content is still a challenging. Even visionaries still struggle, but are aided by their ability to look ahead while learning from what has been done. What did we learn? That as content evolves, so must our strategies, behaviors and technologies.