Using content-as-a-service for internal street cred


I know first-hand that many homes have a basket of dozens of socks that have no match. None of us know how this can possibly happen. It’s almost a statistical and physical impossibility that this variety of orphan socks can have no identifiable mate in the house.

My experience with organizing enterprise content is much the same. Baskets of content in the central repository that have no clear connection to any person or place within the organization. Like socks, many in the basket are of a theme or format that went out of style years ago. But they remain — in hopes that they will find a match or come back in style.

As I’ve written in the past, enterprise IT organizations in most cases see themselves as running the content “containers” while the business feed the beast with content. Whether they’re feeding it with “nutritional” content or otherwise is more a business issue than a technical issue. This is the ago old challenge of managing containers versus their contents. The cloud adds a challenge since this virtual container has expanded to astronomic proportions.

History tells me that IT pros confuse content-as-a-service with content management systems (CMS). The CMS is only a repository unless a true utility (other than the mundane act of posting content pieces that appear somewhere) is added to the system.

So how does a CIO encourage the IT team to expand from a CMS mentality to a CaaS mindset? More important, how can enterprise IT use this knowledge for street-cred with internal business partners and, by doing so, dramatically increase relevance?

The first step is to totally isolate the identification of the contents from the containers you manage. In other words, work with your stakeholders on an enterprise-wide content audit. Identify pairs of socks and orphan socks, but attempt to find as much content residing on systems or devices that can possibly be retrieved. Many IT managers know the challenges such things as flash drives and private cloud storage like Dropbox can add to the inventory process.

Many of you are laughing out loud at the thought of even proposing this kind of inventory exercise. Having done it myself, I know it’s not for the meek or faint-hearted. But it must be attempted and, in many enterprises, it takes a forward-thinking CEO to mandate it. Insight from content is a key corporate asset, so this audit exercise is not like requiring an inventory of office supplies or company vehicles.

More important is how disorienting it is for the business unit leaders to have a technology person come in and ask about something that has nothing to do with technology. The strongest relationships I’ve had with CIOs or CTOs have been when the mating ritual doesn’t rush into the technology piece.

Here are a few tips on how enterprise IT can migrate from CMS to CaaS:

  • Build a CaaS relationship by sitting in on content meetings that have nothing to do with the CMS across a variety of BUs. Especially valuable are meetings where the external customer content consumption patterns are being discussed and writers are in the room.
  • I’ve been tutoring my tech guys on how we’re tracking emotion and sentiment indices in our content. There are some interesting technologies that extract these elements and tell content marketers if the sentiment matched with the buyer. This crosses both the tech and marketing lobes of the brain so there’s common ground for applying these indices into a CaaS play.
  • It does no good to inventory all the content across the enterprise without finding a client-driven architecture for interlinking and delivering the content. Granted, a technology architecture must be used to support the content architecture, but neither of these work unless both IT and the business understand how clients engage with the content directly at the BU level where it resides, but more importantly across all corporate sites.
  • Work with the business units to develop tagging taxonomies that are sensitive to corporate-wide themes, while also assuring that the BUs have unique tags for their own groups. History tells me that while not the favorite job of information architects, the taxonomy process can provide some interesting insights across the businesses that would not normally be self evident.

It is only after a deep dive on the content that IT will be able to transform from a “storage company” to a true content service provider.


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