2016 Trend Survey Documents Content Changes Over a 4-Year Period

Apr 05, 2016

Technical content developers have begun to dip their toes in the pool of dynamic publishing systems, for at least a small part of their content, but relatively few are utilizing the Cloud as a means to deliver and manage it. These are some of the key findings in the fourth annual "Following the Trends - Is Your Content Ready" survey, jointly conducted by Data Conversion Laboratory (DCL) and the Center for Information Development Management (CIDM).

While PDF delivery continues to dominate as a publishing channel (76% report publishing at least some content to PDF), the survey results suggest that more than a third of respondents were slowly beginning to use a dynamic content delivery system. Looking forward though, 45% of respondents, up from 33% in 2015, report that they expect to move to a dynamic publishing system for an increasingly large percentage of their content. More than twice as many groups reported that they are likely to see 100% of their content in a dynamic publishing environment in the next two to three years. This trend toward dynamic delivery may be taking some of the momentum away from base HTML publishing, which accounts for 66% of respondents' output.

The survey introduced a new question regarding publishing content to the Cloud. Nearly two-thirds of content developers (58%) do not currently publish to the cloud, but 11% of those have plans to cloud publish by the end of 2016. Another 19% publish some content to the cloud. Fully 60% create content that is delivered identically to both mobile devices and desktops, including websites that remain constant across devices.

While the results showed a slight downward trend, searchable content remains a challenge for 63% of information developers who are looking for ways to respond to customers' content demands. They report their customers are requesting learning videos (52% down from 56% in 2015) and mobile content (44% in 2016, 46% in 2015, and 64% in 2014).

The 2016 survey shows another decline in the number of professionals that say their content is ready to support digital business requirements in the next two years (41% in 2016, 44% in 2015, and 48% in 2014), and 59% (up from 56% in 2015) say they're not ready or aren't sure.

Paradoxically, the survey does indicate that the barriers for moving to electronic delivery, while significant, are showing improvement. Insufficient staff to manage the change (64%, down from 76% in 2015), lack of knowledge in developing content for electronic publishing (28%, down from 40% in 2015), and a negative experience with a first try (7%, down from 18% in 2015). On the other hand, more respondents say budget problems are a barrier (up to 65% from 56% in 2015).

User-generated content has made only small inroads among the respondents--58% note that customers cannot contribute content. Of the remaining, 17% allow customers to add comments to existing content and 7% do permit customers to contribute. And 10% ensure that the customer-contributed content is first curated.

Nearly 75% of respondents say they either do not provide content through social media or acknowledge that social media is the domain of marketing and pre-sales content. It also found 16% use Facebook to provide content.

A large but shrinking percentage of respondents plan to address conversion and development of digital content with totally in-house solutions (45% in 2016, 57% in 2015 versus 52% in 2014), 41% plan on a hybrid approach of in-house and outsourced expertise, with 6% relying on totally outsourced solutions.

Of information developers who use an XML editing tool, 75% report that it is their primary content creation tool, while only 38% report Microsoft Word as their primary tool, with another 62% including it as a secondary or tertiary tool. Unstructured Adobe FrameMaker and HTML editors retain their share of the content developer's toolkit, with nearly a third of total respondents using them to some degree.