Global Content Challenges: Fast 5 Interview with David Ashton of SDL

SDL’s David Ashton describes implementing true customer experience management, separating message from medium, and how both allow companies to address global content challenges.

David Ashton discusses global content challengesOne of the highlights of LavaCon Conference 2012 undoubtedly will be the SDL Globalization Challenge on Monday, October 8, where David Ashton will preside over an educational and usually hilarious trivia competition. David, SDL International’s Vice President of Consulting Services will also be on the panel discussing The Content Revolution. He was able to squeeze an hour into his schedule to discuss global content challenges, translation, and trends with Connie Giordano and Al Martine in a recent TechWhirl Fast 5 Live Interview.

David started out by giving an overview of how mobile, tablet and social media technologies have altered the business models, including service and sales models, for companies around the world who sell products, services or content to customers. “Everything has changed. We can take that content we’re developing and deliver it to anybody regardless of device or location,” he notes. Thus, one of the biggest global content challenges centers on content development and delivery, which increasingly need to be based on targeting segments of customers with content designed for them across any phase of the customer lifecycle.

He believes that customer experience management (CXM) is more than a buzzword that consultants use, but rather is “the ability to choreograph all of those content items,” such as general information on a product or the company, technical content, and purchase content, that motivate the customer to want to become a part of the organization. He points out that niche companies, particularly life sciences companies like Abbot Labs and Care Fusion have done outstanding work in choreographing content elements and delivery methods into a cohesive, but targeted experience. Because of differences in infrastructure, economics and cultural norms, content management efforts need to focus first on building consistent messages for what David refers to as “marketing archetypes”—a particularly customer type—and then secondarily on presentation or delivery channel.  He noted that the experience will be different based on the device type and those cultural factors related to region or country, but that the essence of the content, and its feeling or tone should be consistent for that archetype.

David suggests that building a business case for content management tools to support CXM comes down to the basic issues of increasing revenue or decreasing costs, since executives are focused on these as the only benefits that matter to the organization. He recommends looking for “hard internal metrics” first, and using industry trends or best practices to supplement the case. He referenced SDL’s recent acquisition of Alterian, and the analytics tools and campaign management expertise they bring to SDL and its clients. Analytics, including sentiment analytics, are already massively changing how companies utilize data to target, create and deliver content. “Analytics help you understand what your market presence is and how it’s impacted by a negative experience.”

He also recommends that, rather than working on a lengthy, extremely costly enterprise CMS effort that is likely doomed to failure, content strategists should build business cases to deliver specialized CMSs designed to solve an immediate problem, and quickly deliver tangible benefits. Over the long-term, the specialized CMSs can be integrated to produce the long-term cost reduction metrics that Deloitte recently reported.

Globalization considerations play a huge role in CXM efforts and impact on content messaging and delivery. He describes a well-known and humorous translation error on a Welsh traffic sign, which essentially delivered an out-of-office message to travelers, rather than construction information. This kind of translation error happens because companies are dealing with smaller, less well-equipped translation services, and rely too heavily on machine translation without post-translation editing.

When asked to predict what content management will look like in 2032, David says ““one word comes to mind… ubiquity.”  Improved machine translation, better approaches to abstracting content from presentation, and constantly improving device technology will bring content delivery costs down, and allow companies to deliver fully-immersive, rich content to anyone in the world on any device.

David Ashton’s Fast 5 Questions (plus 3) on Global Content Challenges:TechWhirl Fast Five Widget Banner

  1. With the increase in cloud computing, social media, tablets and mobile technology, how has this changed the business of content development on a global scale? Has the sales, implementation and support service model altered?
  2. Customer experience management seems to be a buzzword we hear a lot today. What does CXM mean to the way content is developed and delivered?
  3. How do clients deliver a consistent user experience around the world technology when infrastructures are not consistent? Can you provide the same user experience in Chad as you do in say the U.S.?
  4. Creating a business case for content strategy can be challenging – what guidance do you have for those building a case for senior management?
  5. The relationship between compliance, social media and CMS systems can be challenging.  How have you seen this relationship managed on a global scale?
  6. A recent report by Deloitte on Enterprise Content Management indicated the benefits of implementation of CMS system are a decrease in labor costs and design by 50% in online and print endeavors. What other benefits have you seen for your global clients?
  7. How did the Alterian acquisition influence the SDL’s approach to global content delivery?
  8. Congratulations on SDL celebrating 20 years of innovation.  In your opinion, what does 2032 look like from a content development point of view?


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