a lot of empty seats in a stadium
In spite of companies acknowledging the value their content provides, few are taking the step of using content analytics to gather information PHOTO: Marvin Ronsdorf

How many organizations know what content they have, let alone how it's used and in what context?

Content analytics (CA) applications were introduced as a means to provide that information. Content analytics applies business intelligence (BI) and business analytics practices to uncover usage patterns in enterprise content.

But in spite of most organizations recognizing the value content provides, few are using CA tools to actively monitor and improve the quality of their content through auto-classification, content remediation, security correction and more.

CA Helps Prove ROI on Content Initiatives

A recent report from the Association for Information and Image Management professionals (AIIM) revealed only one in five organizations use content analytics even though 29 percent consider the role these applications play in realizing their content's full value.

The research, Using Analytics: Automating Processes and Extracting Knowledge (registration), is based on results of an online survey carried out in September and October of 276 members of the AIIM community.

Twenty-six percent of those who used CA tools reported a return on investment (ROI) for big content projects within 12 months, and 10 percent of respondents within six months.

Sixty-one percent of respondents felt that the intelligence derived from content analytics is most useful in providing better insight and decision-making capabilities, while 37 percent see improved product or service quality as CA’s key benefit.

Barriers to Content Analytics Use

So why do so few businesses deploy them?

"Our research finds that the two major barriers are the perceived costs, and a lack of expertise in this area,” said Bob Larrivee, vice president and chief analyst of Market Intelligence at AIIM and author of the report.

“Like any previous technology, analytics is one of those where the initial costs and expertise required to garner value and benefit slow the adoption cycle until there is proven evidence that the investment is worthwhile.”

While content analytics has been around for some time, Larrivee noted the potential to extract business knowledge and insight, apply it and combine it with other applications is starting to become clear to organizations.

And given the increasing and changing variety of content types being analyzed — 27 percent said they had a wide variety of data spread across multiple repositories — the realization is coming none too soon.

Repeat After Me: Establish Requirements Before Tools

Under these conditions, deploying a single content analytics application to covers the entire content range can pose problems. The problem though is not technology.

“I think the question is more whether it can be done, and the answer technologically is yes, but should it be done depends upon the organization’s goals and objectives,” Larrivee said.

“The best approach is to set your objectives, define your functional requirements, and select the right technology set to meet those requirements. Some solutions may perform or deliver better results under certain conditions than others, thus the need to have clear requirements and assess the right tool for the job."

Roughly one-third of respondents said their organization had more than one content analytics application in place, while 15 percent said they were currently planning for it. Among the other noteworthy findings:  

  • Thirty-nine percent of respondents had problems gathering insights into their business operations and 43 percent with tackling content duplication
  • Sixty-four percent believed content analytics would make their organization more productive
  • Only 14 percent used content analytics with social streams, communities, news feeds and inbound communications
  • Fifty-two percent thought automated content curation would be useful.

Making the Business Case for Content Analytics

Other software promises enhanced productivity so in order to get the attention of the C-Suite, content analytics vendors need to make a strong case.

"I think that there must be a strong business case for any technology use and buy-in by the C-Level,” Larrivee said.

“If you cannot align technology to the corporate vision/strategy, solving business problems, and enhancing day-to-day operations, the C-Level will be reluctant and I see this here. Technology use for the sake of using the latest technology, seldom works."

Apparently the case in favor of CA was clear to the study's respondents — 59 percent reported CA would be an essential tool within the next five years.

Larrivee noted two drivers will shape the next 12 months:

  1. Enterprises will deploy content analytics to gain greater insight into customer trends, and business operations and
  2. Enterprises will automate operational processes based on analytics results.

Over the long term, expect to see more businesses looking at the potential of analytics, particularly when cloud services or applications emerge that are suitable for small-to-medium sized business (SMB).

“Responsiveness, flexibility, and meeting the here and now consumer requirements demand better insight into operations, and the ability to modify processes when needed, quickly. Those who have this capability will lead and win. Those who do not will find growth is a struggle, and may eventually fall by the wayside,” Larrivee added.