Q&A: Quark's Gavin Drake on Content Automation Trends

Oct 31, 2018

Article ImageAutomation is everywhere. Whether you’re checking out at the grocery store or calling your bank, automating the task is an option. New research from Quark and Information Today, Inc. says as more organizations seek to embrace digital transformation, they are turning to content automation as a way to deliver information quickly and effectively to their customers and employees. We interviewed Gavin Drake, Vice President of Marketing for Quark Software Inc. about the research and what it means for the digital content industry.


Q: Can you start by defining content automation?

A: Most organizations today create an overwhelming volume of content targeted to a wide variety of stakeholders, from customers and prospects to employees and shareholders. It must reach the right people, at the right time, and on the right device. However, outdated systems and processes burden the entire content lifecycle – from creation and management to publishing and delivery. Traditional approaches lock content to a media type (think Microsoft Word or PDF), require manual review and approval workflows, and rely on copy and paste to prepare content for multi-channel delivery. In the end we’re left with hundreds (or thousands) of instances of duplicate content that is impossible to update, track, or manage efficiently.

Not only do these manual processes take too long and introduce errors, in regulated industries like financial services and healthcare, there’s a raft of compliance-related consequences to deal with when your content is mismanaged.

Content automation transforms the entire content process by enabling organizations to create and manage reusable content components. These components can be dynamically assembled, tracked, managed and updated. By evolving from creating static documents to creating structured content components, organizations can cut the time it takes to create high-fidelity, up-to-date content from one week to 30 seconds.

Q: Your research found that 37% of respondents reported that improving customer experience is the single most important business initiative related to content. How can content automation help further those initiatives?

A: Improving customer experience is always a top concern when we speak with our customers, so it wasn’t surprising to see it validated in the research. Let me share some real-life examples of content automation in action:

A global airline wants its cabin crew to spend more time providing customers with world-class service and less time training. The cabin crew has iPads powered by content automation. The tablet knows who the cabin crew member is, what flight they are on, which type of plane, the class of operation, who the passengers are and if the cabin crew member has flown this combination of variables before. Based on this information the cabin crew has access to the most up-to-date and accurate standard operating procedures relevant for their particular role. For example, how to serve red versus white wine in first class or which emergency procedures have changed since they last flew on that plane.

An asset management company uses content automation to better engage its institutional clients. Thousands of fund marketing documents are automatically produced every quarter in print, PDF, web, and mobile versions. The digital versions contain fully interactive charts and tables to enable the client to engage with the performance data. At the same time, the client managers have tailored quarterly presentations produced automatically from the same data. Clients get immediate digital access to the most relevant and timely investing information.

Relationship managers at a global bank receive enquiries from clients and prospective clients for advice on international money transfers. Through a centralized procedure experience, employees have access to all of the latest, compliant information they need to advise the client. At the same time, the bank is meeting fast-changing regulations and guidelines to stay on the right side of the law.

In all instances, customer experience comes down to: Right Content, Right Time, Right Place.

Q: In addition, your report says only 8% of organizations are already applying artificial intelligence to content while 44% have plans to. Content marketing recommendations and customer service content recommendations are where most of the AI is being applied. What other uses for AI are there in the content world?

A: In most cases the general theme when it comes to content is enabling “push versus pull.” How can the right content find you rather than you searching for the right content? AI plays a role in making this a reality. An example is in the area of sales enablement. Rather than sales reps having to search various repositories to find content to share with a prospective client, by understanding the context, a system can recommend the best content to the sales rep. For example, if the prospect is a late stage opportunity in the financial services industry for a specific product, the best content will be recommended to the sales rep based on what was most successful in a similar scenario. This not only helps drive the deal forward, it also enables new sales reps to be effective more quickly.

Q: Your report says over 60% of organizations are adopting or expect to adopt a content automation platform to help manage the growing volumes of content required for successful customer and employee experiences. Where do you recommend organizations just starting to implement content automation begin?

A: Regardless of industry, the best first step in adopting content automation is to really understand your content, how it’s created, by which teams and roles, the processes, where it’s delivered, how often it needs to be updated, etc. So we recommend our customers go through a content audit – at Quark we have content experts who help facilitate the audit – which helps content teams take a fresh look at assessing strengths and areas for improvement. Often we find that content audits shine a huge spotlight on problem areas, for example, content is often underutilized, isn’t easy to access, takes too long to produce, is out of date, is stuck in one format, and not to mention very costly.

The good news is that a content audit will show where content automation will make your teams more productive, your customers happier, and your entire organization more competitive. It often also confirms the urgency with which clients need to adopt modern approaches to content and content management.

Q: How can content automation change the day-to-day operations of content-heavy organizations?

A: From a content production perspective, content automation enables employees to focus on their strengths. For example, with content automation we have clients that tell us their senior content creators spend 50% less time reviewing content from their teams which leaves them much more time for creating original content. When it comes to the consumption of content by employees, like the global bank example, when employees are empowered with the right information at their fingertips, it transforms employee engagement and the service they provide to their customers.

Q: What advancements do you foresee in content automation?

A: When I think about the future of content automation, four areas standout for me.

  1. I see content automation becoming more and more pervasive across different industries and content types. As an example, marketing content is crying out for a more efficient and effective approach to content production.
  2. A greater use of content analytics to inform content creators so they can produce more effective content based on analytics and AI.
  3. Smart content that finds you will be the expectation rather than the exception.
  4. More engaging content experiences that can be fully automated and scaled. By more engaging I mean interactive and deeply personalized.

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