Keeping Up With Content and Marketing Technology

Oct 07, 2016

Article ImageMarketers, intranet managers, publishers, and the IT professionals that support them not only need to understand the specific product technologies that support core domain functions, they also need a working knowledge of the technologies they interact, integrate, and overlap with. As we wrote last month, a customer experience strategy that is only focused on the obvious front-end customer interactions is not going to be as successful as one that ensures back-end supporting practices and technologies are in sync. But if you want to lead rather than follow, you also need to anticipate the broader computing trends that may seem far off, faddish, or magical. Many of these will indeed fade away or become important much further out than you would surmise based on current enthusiasm. However, some will sneak up on you and force significant or even dramatic change. You need to be prepared to react quickly.

How do you manage to keep up with all of the various product technologies directly related to your job, and also track exciting emerging technologies which may be hype, may not be ready for prime time, or may require immediate attention?

In general, break the problem down into smaller, more digestible chunks. Focus first on your core function. What your raw material is, where it comes from, what do you do to it, where it goes, and what twists, turns and side trips its path takes. Map the tools you use for each part of the core process, as well as the tools being used by other functions that you need to integrate with. Finally, tie in the supporting digital infrastructure. In short, perform an audit and understand your stack. This will make the job of tracking the utility and performance of the various product technologies, and workflows, much easier. All managers need to do this — it will allow you to converse more effectively with technologists so you can make better-informed decisions, and you don’t need to be a technology expert.

But what about new technology coming down the pike that could cause major changes your entire function or business? How do you keep ahead of the curve? Well, this is a little trickier, and hard to fit into your day job. Its importance may not be recognized by your boss until they’ve been gobsmacked by a competitor who just leapt ahead. Some of you may have dual technology leadership where one manager is dedicated to operations and infrastructure maintenance, and another is focused entirely on new, strategic technologies. This can be a big help, but you still need to allocate some time for your own tracking and understanding of where things are going.

For our conference audience of marketing, content, intranet, and technology executives, we include coverage of recently implemented and new technologies and use cases that should be considered near term. But we also take a look at the larger trends in computing that ought to be on our audience’s radar because they have the potential to substantially change the rules and landscape of their playing field – much as descriptive markup, and smartphones have, and the dance of data and machine learning are now doing.

There are a number of trends developing at different speeds that everyone needs to watch. Smartphone sales overtook PCs a few years ago, and then overtook feature phone sales, including in developing countries where they are available for $100 or less. This was quicker than most expected. Smartphones are the most important hardware platform, and will be for the foreseeable future. Are your content delivery and customer experience strategies in sync yet?

The fight for control of the software platform on smartphones is fierce and only in its early stages. With Android and iOS owning the mobile operating system market, Facebook and others are looking for ways to end-run for control of user attention. Messaging platforms are in the spotlight. WeChat, WhatsApp, Messenger, Line, and Kik, are just a few of the messaging apps becoming platform-like by adding bots and integrating third party apps to keep users from having to leave. Apple has even opened up iMessage to third party apps to protect its flanks.

“Conversational commerce” refers to a combination of mobile customer/brand messaging, marketing, and transactions all taking place within a messaging app, and is a good example of a major trend that content marketers and managers need be up-to-speed on. This expansion of the role of messaging in the customer journey is already happening. It is a big part of pioneer WeChat’s value, but is also being rolled out in Facebook Messenger, and others.

You can learn more about conversational commerce and what it means for content management and content and commerce integration at our upcoming conference in Boston. Check out our panel on “Here Come the Bots: How Innovations in Artificial Intelligence Will Shape the Future of Content and Commerce”.