At the speed of the digital workplace, organizations lack the time time to create content the traditional way. That’s why some content marketers and publishers are moving toward intelligent content that is structured, adaptable and scalable.

Producing content every time for specific channels no longer satisfies. Intelligent content, on the other hand, saves time and money and lets organizations adapt the content for different uses in the future.

During a keynote last month at the Content Marketing Institute's (CMI) Intelligent Content Conference, analyst and author Robert Rose discussed the state of content and explained how marketers can strategize around it in their businesses.

Rose is chief strategy officer for CMI and is a senior contributing consultant at Digital Clarity Group. CMSWire spoke to Rose to hear his thoughts on the topic of content marketing and intelligent content.

Rose On Intelligent Content

Siu: Why is it easy to get lost when seeking tools and tech that support intelligent content?

Rose: Well, getting lost in today’s MarTech is a bit of a rite of passage for marketers these days. Just have a look at Scott Brinker’s technology landscape infographic,and you’ll see near 4,000 logos in that soup of software.

This is especially true for intelligent content, as the approach of managing content strategically just has so many different moving parts. The biggest challenge with content related technology is that it’s truly unlike any other part of mechanizing the business.

Everybody has some unique aspect to their content. Your workflow and maturity level is different, the experiences you create are different, what you call various elements of content is different — and even the channels you prioritize are different.

So every content strategy, while sharing common foundational best practices, is a unique strategy. Then couple that with the fact that in almost every case you’re trying to both fix the strategy, while you’re moving a hundred miles an hour (e.g. you can’t stop creating) and it can, indeed, be a very daunting process.

Siu: What are the best ways to determine a content model?

Rose: Well, that question is a bit like asking what’s the best way to determine whether you’re ready for a trip to mars. So my first piece of preparation advice is to engage with someone who really knows how to develop one.

My other piece of advice is to not try and boil the ocean. A content model ideally captures the definitions of every type of content that the organization may create and the relationships they have with each other.

This can get complex fast. So it’s perfectly okay to limit your initial model to a “section” of your strategy. Perhaps it’s your marketing content, or your commerce content or your technical documentation, etc. Ultimately, the idea is to connect these models together to form a more global strategy.

Siu: What do you mean by start with small focus areas?

Rose: In my mind, intelligent content is really an ideal, a goal that is really never attained. It is, if you’ll forgive the metaphor, like Buddhism in that way. We seek perfection in the way that we flow content through a business, but it’s never going to be perfect.

Learning Opportunities

And so we try and create the optimal environment for us to continue to become more intelligent about it. And taken at the surface that can be a really overwhelming idea. So the idea is to just do.

Do something — even a small something — and create focus on it so that you achieve it. Even if it’s just starting with something as simple as creating a tagging structure for the blog so that individual tag-based RSS feeds can be utilized by different parts of the business, you’ve begun the journey.

Siu: What's the best way to approach an intelligent content strategy? Why do organizations need a strategy in place?

Rose: The short answer is, simply, one step at a time. As for why, it’s because content remains the most strategic asset in the business that isn’t managed as such. It’s as simple as that.

Even if the goal is to, frankly, reduce the amount of time and cost we spend on this thing called content, it’s a worthy exercise. Of course, the real value is how content, managed well, can be so extraordinarily powerful in creating customer experiences. I’ve written before how getting content “right” may be the most important thing a business does in the next five years.

Siu: Other thoughts?

Rose: In my keynote address [at the Intelligent Content Conference], I asked the content practitioners in the audience to look up from their day-to-day activities, take note of the landscape and decide where they wanted their careers to go.

I encouraged them to pave their own way by becoming more strategic in the business and not just learning to facilitate content widgets more fluidly, efficiently or even effectively in the business. The career path of today’s content practitioner will be paved with efforts to synthesize meaning, share wisdom and add strategic business value.

This is a hard thing. Templates don’t exist. We may get it wrong. But there’s great potential in seeing the customer as not just someone who needs our product or service but also as someone who wants and needs many things in life, including our content.

As we start to look at the rapid expansion of technology, of artificial intelligence and the expanded need for content in the business, this renewed focus on meaning is the opportunity. We can live our professional content life in the “needs” and “shoulds,” or we can look at “wants” and “coulds” and differentiate ourselves and our brand in the process.