Search, data, and presentation management: Untangling the web of enterprise PowerPoints

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If it’s important, it’s in a presentation. Presentations, and PowerPoint in particular, are the de facto medium for communicating formal business ideas. Presentations are used for sales, training, fund raising, project planning, research—you name it. A lot of human capital and other resources go into creating these presentations, and because of this expenditure, more companies are turning to presentation management to leverage this content. Presentations are no longer one-off documents, used for one meeting, one proposal, and then thrown out, only to start over again the next time. They are communications assets that can be reused and repurposed for the benefit of everyone in the organization.

At most, businesses have a tangled mess of PowerPoint and other files buried somewhere on their network, shared worksites, hard drives, and emails. When someone needs to make a presentation, they start from scratch recreating slides that probably already exist somewhere, if only they can find them—a gross waste of time. Or, they spend hours hunting and pecking through all of these files trying to find that one “right” slide, and whether that slide is current, branded, or has the proper messaging is—another waste of time, never mind the potential branding and legal risk that comes with presenting inaccurate or outdated materials.

A Nintex survey found that 49% of employees have trouble locating documents, such as presentations, and waste up to 2.5 hours a day looking for information. This is why more companies are implementing a presentation management strategy, where search is a critical element that radically reduces the time wasted looking for those presentation assets.

How search works within a presentation management

Presentation management puts a strategic workflow process around presentation files, such as: PowerPoint, video, images, PDFs, and any other file types you use in business. (In presentation management, all files are formatted to present, so any file can be considered a “presentation” file.) So, anyone in your organization can find the “right” slide or file and reuse it on demand. It is visual, and above all searchable.

It starts with creating a central file repository that is easily accessible and permissioned. Permissions direct the right content to the appropriate users and mitigate the risk associated with someone using an old, outdated version. This repository should be visual, with easy previewing, so the user is not forced to download a file, open it, and scroll through it to find the slide or section they want before starting over with the next file, and the next. Instead, with presentation management, they click on the file or slide, where they can see it, read it, and decide in a split second if that’s the one they need. Common sense dictates that if you can’t see a file, you won’t use it, so visualization is critical.

The value of visual search

Visual search capabilities let users type in keywords or phrases that generate thumbnails of files and slides, with the keywords highlighted within the document. This not only gives them access to that one great slide or file out of thousands, but also lets see them keyword in the context of the document, which makes it easier and faster to decide if it’s the right one for your meeting.

With presentation management, search should be organic. Files are indexed upon upload, so users not only search according to file name and meta tag, but all of the content within the file, such as titles, text, and speaker notes. With the proper presentation management solution, everything is searchable.

The result is that all files become active and productive. When each member of your team has an easy way to find that one correct slide, or that file out of tens of thousands, then they can reuse it in their presentations. Better search makes for better, more informative presentations.

Search also improves business insights, which lead to better content. Data accumulated through search, such as most searched topics, who is searching, when are they searching (before or during a meeting) etc., will give marketing teams insight as to what content and corresponding products are popular in the field. It is market feedback in its most direct and rudimentary form.

Data helps you prioritize

Internal data can also be collected through presentation management. It can log who is using which slide or file, where, when, and over what time period. Equally as informative, the same data will indicate which slides and files are not being used. That information will guide the content marketer’s decision as to what new content to create, to update and even expire. After all, why waste time creating content that no one uses? For example, let’s say a CEO gives a presentation rolling out a line of new products. The sales team uses that presentation over the next six months to sell these products. The analytics shows that there are two particular slides that have the most hits, the most engagement, and even the most search queries. It also shows that there is one product that gets zero hits. Now the marketing and product development teams know which two products are resonating in the field, and therefore where to allocate their resources.

External sources of data are also critical for industries that rely on third-party sources, such as banking and media. Media companies use services such as Nielsen ratings to confirm their audience viewer numbers, which is what they are ultimately selling. Synchronizing this data in real time, directly into formatted presentation slides can offer an ad sales rep an advantage when talking with clients. The rep comes across as well-informed, direct, and ready to discuss and plan a better strategy for the client to reach the intended audience. It builds credibility and trust between seller and buyer. It might sound ironic but in this case, data is actually fostering a better human relationship.

A digital-first generation

Presentation management is particularly appealing to millennials, who grew up with data and search on their mobile phones and are expected to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. They will bring their personal habits into their job. They expect to be able to find a specific piece of content, a file, a slide, a video, with one search. A network server with a bunch of folders, sub-folders, and files hidden within? That won’t work for them. They expect to see their business content, visualized in preview. And they expect to use it, at that moment, just as they do on YouTube. Furthermore, they rely on their mobile phones to communicate. They will pick up their phone—not to call you—but to show you pictures and videos as they are talking with you. And they will do the same in a business setting—pick up their phone, or iPad or laptop and show their client data the product pictures or promotional video. They will resist using a rigid, linear, and PowerPoint slide show, in favor of a more free flowing interactive discussion. A millennial’s presentation follows the conversation.

Your company’s enterprise presentation management strategy is bolstered through search and data. Better and more readily accessible content empowers employees to be more productive in their tasks. With a comprehensive presentation management solution, everyone knows how to get the content they need to do their job, and this translates to client meetings, letting your employees connect with customers in a more meaningful, effective way. Employees can follow the conversation and directly address the customers’ concerns. No one is limited to a canned, inflexible presentation. Furthermore, marketing and HQ get real-time data on how their products and services are resonating in the field, so they can also be agile and adjust as needed. Search and data tools embedded in your presentation management strategy will give insights and guidance so your company can better serve you clients.

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