Inside the Minds of the EContent 100 Judges

Nov 15, 2017

Article ImageOur judges are an integral part of making the EContent 100 list happen, but they rarely get an opportunity to talk directly to our readers. In order to get an idea of what was on their minds during this year’s judging, we asked them one simple question: “What was the breakout trend of the past year from your vantage point in the industry, and how do you see it evolving next year?” These are their answers.


“From the standpoint of online video, 2017 will go down as the year that AI and machine learning took hold, helping deliver the right content (and the right advertising) to the right viewer at the right time. It’s not where it needs to be yet, but we’re a lot closer to the holy grail of truly personalized content than we’ve ever been.”

—Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen, Editor, Streaming Media


“Fake news is on everyone’s mind, thanks to a presidential administration that plays fast and loose with facts. Libraries are developing programming and making it a priority to teach their communities to be media literate—i.e., able to identify inaccurate information. Fact checkers (such as PolitiFact), the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE), and the crowdsourced Wikitribune were on our radar this year. Next year, I hope that more organizations enter the fray, helping the public understand when the government or news sources are stretching the truth. I’m sure that libraries will be at the forefront of this movement.”

—Brandi Scardilli, Editor, Information Today


“Artificial intelligence is going to have a tremendous impact on the entire content industry moving forward. As we generate increasingly large amounts of content, it becomes impossible for humans to manage, classify, move it through workflows, and find it in search. Using machine learning, we can help resolve some previously intractable problems around managing large content stores and I expect to see it applied across the entire industry in the coming year.”

—Ron Miller, Enterprise Reporter, TechCrunch


“The breakout trend in the content industry this year was definitely the addition of artificial intelligence to augment existing solutions. There’s a lot of promise in those machine learning features, but there’s also a danger of AI-washing (when software brands exaggerate the benefits of adding machine learning capabilities to their offerings). Over the coming year, I expect to see much more of the ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ approach with software companies trying to one-up the competition and differentiate their products from the competition by featuring the magical powers of machine learning. My advice: When you read machine learning, make sure you hear ‘machine teaching’ because that’s what you’ll need to do in order to gain much of the benefits promised. That said, it’s true that small, incremental improvements to products can be made by enhancing solutions with machine learning capabilities available today. The challenge will be to separate reality from the hype.”

—Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler


“For reasons that are beyond me, the publishing industry only woke up to the reality of a digital oligopoly in 2017, and that will be the frame within which much of 2018 will proceed. Media combinations like Verizon/AOL/Yahoo and AT&T/Time Warner will try to challenge Google/Facebook/Amazon’s hold on data and scale. But so will various confederacies of smaller concerns. Partnerships, shared data and audiences, will be on everyone’s business plans for the year. As advertising patronage fragments and wanes, the media that can connect marketers to consumers in new ways and reliably across their screens will at least be in contention against the consolidating giants.”

—Steve Smith, Editorial Director, Events/Mobile Insider, MediaPost


“From a digital globalization perspective the progress of machine learning and artificial intelligence was the major trend last year. It accelerated and reshaped many existing processes, especially to boost AI-driven content creation and neural machine translation. It also created additional value from data that could be exploited in new ways and combinations. It enabled content leaders and practitioners to meet a number of challenges in terms of overall speed, cost, and quality. I see this trend become even more mature in the next year (and beyond) as it supports global business and customer experiences, both operationally and strategically.”

—Bruno Herrmann, Director of Globalization and Localization, Nielsen


“Longstanding but somewhat staid disciplines like content management and e-commerce are seeing fresh bursts of innovation. I expect that we will finally be able to transcend text-only search and content discovery and implement richer audio and visual interfaces. The advances in text mining, image recognition, and natural language processing (NLP) are being packaged and are available for enterprise use via various cloud-based tools. In a sense, we are going to see the democratization of AI, which thus far has been the preserve of large consumer-internet companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google.”

Kashyap Kompella, Founder and CEO, RPA2AI


“The big trend I see is about AI and ML [machine learning]. To be fair, AI and ML are not really new. I remember taking courses on AI back in 1999. However, what’s new is the evolution of these from being ‘techie’ concepts used for solving specific problems to being more general concepts for solving everyday practical problems. All major vendors, across different marketplaces—digital marketing, analytics, CRM, content management, and so forth—are incorporating machine learning and artificial intelligence into their offerings to help marketers and other business users. I think in the near term, it will become even easier to incorporate these techniques and benefit from those.”

—Apoorv Durga, Analyst, Real Story Group


“This year, I’ve noticed more companies creating content for systems that use artificial intelligence. Chatbots, voice interfaces, and cognitive computing have been strong themes. I think that we are just beginning to scratch the surface with regards to understanding how to create content for these interfaces. There are many issues to overcome. First is how to understand and react to the myriad ways that people search for information. Second is to respond accurately to the request in an extremely short amount of time. And third is writing in a natural, talkative way such that computers ‘emote.’”

—Val Swisher, CEO, Content Rules

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