In my previous article (Innovation Doesn’t Just Happen), I cited the content stored in a Digital Asset Management system as the lifeblood of any organization. Now, caring for the quality of this precious lifeblood consists of giving digital content the most meaningful and efficient structure within a DAM system. Living with unstructured content can be harmful to the organization – like having the blood infected by some kind of dangerous toxin.
What is “content”
“Content” usually refers to texts, images, and audio or video files created by users for business or personal purposes, shared across the web in a wide variety of formats and across many different platforms or devices. Because texts and images have always been elements of the layout of a printed page, it’s possible to store and access these types of content and their containers (frames, picture boxes, text boxes, groups of items, etc.) in a DAM system. Today, with the Web 2.0 revolution and the new generation of mobile devices, the whole concept of “page” has evolved to become a more flexible logical entity. Of course, content can be assembled on a page to be printed (good old PDF!), assembled to create output like a web page, enrich (through the use of videos, pictures, links, etc.) the user experience on one of the many social media platforms, and enjoyed in a variety of new formats for e-readers, tablets, and smartphones. Just think about that as an example: until a couple of years ago, it would have been unthinkable to embed video files, audio files, and presentations in the same layout – today it’s a must-have. The ability to store and manage all digital content in a DAM system is a must for a profitable company.
Why is structured content so important?
Structuring content within a DAM system allows the company to build effective and flexible communication processes. Structured content can be easily shared, distributed, translated, and published across the many existing Web 2.0 channels and devices. It could become a disastrous nightmare for a company to translate content for different markets without a content creation and distribution policy which relies on flexible and effective business processes. The explosion of mobile devices has made this crucial and strategic stage much more complex than in the past, and has highlighted the business advantages of adopting a structured approach to content management. Today the same content must be produced in a variety of different new formats, and on top of all that (just to make things even more complex and fun!), layout pages created for tablets must be doubled to fit both wide and vertical orientation modes. This means that for any given multilanguage publication, the number of pages simply doubles – not so easy to manage. This is exactly where a content management strategy brings effective and concrete results to the business. Structured content is a big plus in today’s market, where companies must be able to play locally and globally at the same time: the right DAM strategy helps the company become a “Glocal” player.
What about connected content?
Without well-structured content, there can’t be any connected content – it’s a prerequisite. Digital content must be structured to be profitably managed within internal and external communication processes, and it must be capable of exchanging information with third-party systems and external systems or services. The production of content for a multilanguage publication involves the creation and management of many different types of assets, each with many different types of metadata, all stored within the DAM system. When content reaches the market in the form of an online or digital publication, it enters a completely new dimension. In this context, content is tracked on the web through the geolocalization systems that know exactly where it was read, downloaded, shared, embedded, and repurposed. Different types of systems record any transaction that the content undergoes, anywhere, at any time. Other systems collect and analyze the data of each single “reader-customer-consumer”. Others compare the behaviors of all the “readers-customers-consumers” together.
The new dimension of content is about being connected with the outside world, able to communicate with external systems or services, to generate and aggregate as many connections (see business information) as possible. It’s a true snowball effect, where, at the end of the run, a simple piece of content (say, a product description with image and rating) becomes an extremely valuable source of deeply entwined and connected business information. From user ratings to comments on social media; number of downloads to quantity of transactions and engagement generated – its value increases with the number of connections generated across the web.
The DAM system plays a strategic role in this process – it is indispensable. If structured content is undoubtedly king, connected content is emperor: the business information collected around structured digital content through these tightly-woven connections is becoming increasingly important for companies who want to win the new big battle – “to collect and analyze information better and to act on that information faster”. (http:// radar.oreilly.com/2012/01/the-feedback-economy.html @ACroll Alistair Croll)