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Getting personal with content management

This article appears in the issue March 2006 (100 Companies) [Volume 15, Issue 3]
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One of the early goals of enterprise content management was to get all an organization's intellectual capital into one place so that everyone would have access to it. That exercise was useful in revealing what information was already present and what was missing, and catalyzed more systematic methods of structuring and retrieving information.

Although having a lot of information initially seemed appealing, quantity did not equal quality, and much of the information turned out to be unhelpful. "We can put content in, but we can't get it out" is a common complaint. Finding a document such as a 40-page slide presentation when you want a list of customer references is not efficient. One way to gain the benefits buried in the repositories while being more selective is to personalize content delivery, tailoring it to the user. Generally that involves breaking down documents into much smaller pieces and storing them in chunks, and tagging it with identifiers so delivery can be tailored to a specific destination or user group.

Carlson Marketing provides customers with a wide range of sales and marketing expertise, including loyalty marketing, recognition and rewards programs, and management of customer communications. Much of Carlson Marketing's business is obtained when the company responds to a request for proposal (RFP). In order to respond rapidly and efficiently, the company decided to deploy Pragmatech's RFP Machine software to develop proposals.

Using RFP Machine, the proposal team built a database of frequently asked questions. Subject matter experts (SMEs) were engaged to submit the content, and the proposal team added value propositions and edited the content to maintain a consistent voice. Examples of content include product descriptions, technical answers, company history and awards won. Once the database was built and processes were established, proposal writers could quickly create proposals based on the RFP requirements.

"Within six months of operation, we reduced presale hours spent responding to RFPs by 60 to 75 percent and saved Carlson Marketing $10,000 to $27,000 per RFP response," says Joan Bettinger, marketing manager at Carlson Marketing. The system has been up and running for almost three years.

A pilot project using Pragmatech's Proposal Automation Suite has also been started at Carlson Marketing. That project aims to customize marketing materials that are specific to the needs of each potential customer. The customized content is created by subject matter experts within the company and is edited and stored in the system by the marketing staff.

"Our pilot group can fill in a few fields, click a few buttons and generate a one-to-one, highly customized piece of collateral in seconds," says Bettinger.

The content is written specifically to particular industries and the type of buyer (such as a CEO vs. a procurement officer). "Users of the application can generate sales letters, case studies or PowerPoint presentations," Bettinger says. "So far we've been able to create any piece of collateral we can think of."

The final output is in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, and can be further customized by the individual salesperson. "As a marketing department, we can meet our needs to maintain consistent messaging and branding standards, while helping our sales staff easily and quickly generate true one-to-one customized marketing materials," she says.

Traditionally, the selling process has been about convincing purchasers to select a particular product or solution, but things are changing. "More and more," says Dave Fowler, senior VP of marketing at Pragmatech, "the customer is defining the buying process. Organizations need to learn to build their information on how products are being bought, not on how they are being sold." Marketing materials are typically very general, while sales are specific. "For this reason, there is often a disconnect between marketing and sales," claims Fowler, "and the materials are just not useful."

Pragmatech's solution provides a knowledgebase through which companies efficiently maintain an important information asset--"customer-ready" content. The product line includes a suite of tools that automatically generate customer-facing communications including proposals, RFPs, presentations and other materials. The software can also provide customer-facing teams with access to both the Pragmatech knowledgebase and other company repositories. In addition, Pragmatech offers a bi-directional tool for integrating its automated applications with leading CRM systems.

Distinguishing public from private

In Bernalillo County, N.M., content drawn from a centralized repository is displayed selectively on the county's Web site depending on the viewer. "We wanted to provide a range of online services to our citizens," says Robert Lucero, who is the Web content administrator for Bernalillo County. "Each of these needed to present only the information appropriate to a particular user."

After reviewing the available options, Lucero selected the QP7.Enterprise Content Management Platform from Quantum Art. Lucero found the product to be cost-effective and easy to use. Personalization was a top priority, because the county had a lot of information that needed to be presented selectively. For example, county information on tax assessments and other public records such as arrest history are stored in Oracle and SQL databases, but not everyone is authorized to see all the information.

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