What is the Name of Our Industry? (Poll)

How would you fill out this label?

How would you fill out this label?

What do you call the industry of companies who produce goods and provides services that helps a organization manage its content?

Each and everyday we at TechWhirl, other websites, companies and consultants discuss the benefits of single-sourcing, using a standard data format and making the creating, managing, publishing, distributing and preserving of content an asset (Content Management Life Cycle). By definition a group of companies who work toward a common end product – for today let’s say a single-sourced company – is an industry.

We know the companies involved

Mattel – no

MadCap – yes

As a group, we generally know the audience.

Cat groomers – no

CIOs – yes

But what about the actual name? (some of you are saying this is easy, but wait for our survey results)

Some names such as the Publishing Industry have been taken by other industries. Say you work in the Publishing Industry and you’ll find yourself explaining about books. Knowledge Management is dead to us too because that’s mostly about extracting information rather than the production process.

Al sometimes uses Enterprise Publishing because the follow-up question – what’s that? – allows him to draw the analogy of writing, editing and publishing a book to what everyone does at their own companies … every single day. We know a few people use this in presentations but it’s certainly not commonly used.

We’re asking today because because there appears to be no standard name used by companies who produce good and services that fit into the Content Management Life Cycle. Our research has been ad hoc and mostly focused on when we expanded our focus from technical communicators to the wider life cycle. As part of that process, we reached out to some to some of our colleagues to ask their opinion with the following options provided:

  • Tech Comm Software
  • Technical Communications Industry
  • Technical Publishing
  • Knowledge Management
  • Content Industry
  • Content Management Life Cycle Industry
  • Content Management
  • Content Market (markets are buyers, industry are sellers but was provided)
  • Enterprise Publishing Industry
  • Publishing (see above)
  • Content Production Industry
  • Content Publishing
  • Enterprise Content Management
  • Content Management Pipeline
  • Mumble, mumble … so did you go anywhere fun this summer for vacation?

The poll today and obligatory request for discussion in the comments is “What is the name of our industry?” We’ve pared down the list to what we think are the top contenders. You’ll quickly notice that Technical Communications Industry didn’t make the list because there is a Tech Comm industry, but it’s a subset of the wider name we’re looking to identify.

What should we call the group of companies that provide goods and services supporting the Content Management Life Cycle?

View Results

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Mark Baker

9 years ago

A loose affiliation of font fondlers, grammar weenies, and XML wonks.


9 years ago

Stop the survey – we have a winner!

Chuck Beck

9 years ago

What about “User Assistance” or “Information Development”?

Ryan Haber

9 years ago

I think “technical communications” gets at the essence of what we do – includes everything we do, and nothing that we don’t. Here’s why the others don’t work for me:

Technical Publishing Industry – It’s strength is that it includes “technical,” but a lot of what we produce isn’t published in usual sense of the word. Using the word “publishing” makes it sound like we write books, which we do, but not only.

Content Management Industry – This phrase would seem to mean that we are competing against SharePoint and Drupal, rather than using them for our work.

Content Industry – This name makes it sound like we churn out content, like ask.com or answers.yahoo.com. No offense to anyone who contributes to those sites or manages them, but they don’t always offer the most accurate or professionally developed material.

Content Management Life Cycle Industry – We do some of that, but again, not all of our work has a life cycle. Sometimes we write a manual or a quick start guide, and it’s done. Additionally, some of it is continuously updated, rather than on the sort of plan indicated by “life cycle.” The term is weak in terms of software, too.

Enterprise Publishing Industry – Not all of what we do is for large businesses, in-house only use, or any of the other meanings generally conjured by “enterprise.”

Content Publishing Industry – What else would a publishing industry publish?

Enterprise Content Management Industry – Better, particularly if you work for a particular firm, managing their content.

I do not think the term industry is suitable because we are not like the publishing industry or the ironworking industry. We tend to function as either departments, team members, or contractors within companies that do something else. Or is it just me?

I prefer “technical communications” because we communicate information of a technical (that is, having its own body of knowledge and disciples for interacting with the body of knowledge) nature. This name includes communicating between technical and non-technical audiences, as well as between two technical audiences. Communication covers traditional publishing, web publishing, material on a life cycle, material created for one-time release, and material that continuously evolves. The term covers communication in the form of text, diagrams, interactive presentations, video, and more. The term does not specify, as it should not, the specific medium (content management) that we use, since our field of work does not specify that in general, but only in particular instances.

In short, that is why this November you should vote for “technical communications” and not one of the other choices. And if you do, I will give you a cookie.


Larry Kunz

9 years ago

“Enterprise Content Management Industry” isn’t bad – but it’s awfully long, and it’s (paradoxically) too narrow: we do a lot more with content than just manage it.

So….how about Enterprise Content Industry?

Julie Rogers

9 years ago

Information Development

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