Intelligent Content 2014 (Breaking Down Barriers)


Content Engineering and Content Strategy share one very important aspect: both depend upon a direct line-of-sight onto the business goals set for an organization. They both approach the question of how content, and the attendant content processes, can be leveraged for maximum benefit. And as the respective names suggest, they approach the question from two different angles. 

Content Strategy focuses on what content an organization should create and why. Considerations of what content and why rightly become a quest to understand the world of the stakeholders, with this including management and customers, and what it is they need to be able to do with that content. 

From the other side, that of technology and process, Content Engineering focuses on the how. Considerations of how content will be created, delivered and used also introduce requirements for the content itself and how it will be structured and profiled so that it can support the full range of uses to which it will be put. The two areas of practice converge, then, on the content itself. They are, in a manner of speaking, two sides of the same coin. 

So this raises a question. How useful will a content strategy be, or how sustainable, if it is not realized through a working solution that reflects the best practices in content engineering? The stark answer to that question is “not very.” 

What happens to a content strategy that bristles with great ideas about content driving new levels of customer engagement and referral, and that may even spark measurable spikes in product sales, but that depends on throngs of content professionals and small armies of application developers, all toiling long and hard to keep it going? It collapses and usually quite quickly. And this point will be driven home the first time the sponsoring organization needs to improve the bottom-line and the blade of cost-cutting sweeps through.   

The point of all this is that Content Strategy does not subsume questions of implementation and this side of the content question falls to Content Engineering. They are two very different practices and, as a matter of good governance, it is in fact important that they remain distinct and separate. 

It is also important that they also converge on the singular topic of how the content should be created so that it can satisfy all the content uses that have been envisioned. So it is that we can see how the two practices of Content Strategy and Content Engineering can be fostered and aligned. We can also see how they can interact in a productive give-and-take that leads to practical solution implementations and that this is really the only sustainable way forward. We can see in fact that the two practices need each other and that together they can make for a formidable force that organizations need to take seriously.