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Content automation emerges to extract value from fast-growing data stores

Content in a variety of forms, including PDFs, Word documents, graphics, videos, and audio files contain business-critical information. But for many organizations, this content is spread across various systems, making it difficult to locate. In addition, there is often insufficient information about who is viewing the content, how it is being consumed, and what is motivating them to consume the content.

As organizations increase their embrace of digital transformation, there is a greater appreciation for the value of content automation to deliver information quickly and effectively to both customers and employees.

These are among the key takeaways of a new survey conducted by Information Today, Inc., publisher of KMWorld and EContent magazines, in partnership with Quark Software, Inc. The research was conducted among 262 executives and professionals and included business heads, managers, and content specialists from a range of industries, with financial services, manufacturing and high tech having the largest representation.

Authored by analyst Joe McKendrick, the survey report, titled 2018/2019 Content Automation Trends Report, highlighted a number of trends.

  • Content technology budgets are on the upswing with more support going to customer experience initiatives.
  • More than half of companies are planning to bring in content automation solutions to help manage burgeoning volumes of content for customers and employees.
  • Many organizations want to keep their options open as far as cloud versus on-premise deployments of content automation solutions.
  • Adoption of artificial intelligence in content management environments is still low but growing.

Budgets for content-related technology are expected to grow over the next 5 years. Almost half of respondents, 46%, said they are currently spending more than $1 million a year on content management and related services, a number likely to grow. Seventy-nine percent expected their budgets to increase, and 68% said the increase would be greater than 10% a year.

The form of business-critical content that is seen as most integral to emerging enterprise content management initiatives is customer communications (42%), while policies and procedures, an internal data type, was a close number two at 35%, the survey found. However, if standard operating procedures (a similar content type) were grouped with policies and procedures, together at 61% they would top the list of business-critical content types. The report noted that the increasing importance of internally focused content is in line with a growing recognition of the impact of this information on external customer satisfaction, costs, as well as regulatory compliance in certain industries. 

Which of the following applications do you consider the most business-critical content for your organization?

Customer communications (bills, statements, welcome kits, etc.) ... 42%

Policies and procedures ... 35%

Sales enablement collateral ...  32%

Technical documentation ... 27%

Standard operating procedures ... 26%

Financial reports/investor materials/annual reports ... 23%

Market intelligence ... 21%

Product data sheets ... 20%

Training material ... 20%

Magazines/books/newspapers/journals ... 10%

Government legislation ... 7%

Investment research ... 7%

Catalogs ... 5%

Medical documentation ... 5%

Other ... 3%

More than half of respondents’ organizations currently own (11%), are currently adopting (35%), or plan to implement a content automation (10%) in the future.

And, customer experience is the most important objective of content management strategies for most organizations. Reducing costs for the business ranked second with 24%, followed by increasing revenue.

What is the single most important high-level business initiative related to your organization’s content strategy for the next 12 months?*

Improving customer experience … 37%

Reducing costs … 24%

Increasing revenue … 16%

Expanding in our current market …11%

Improving compliance … 6%

Expanding into new markets … 5%

Other … 1%

Adoption of artificial intelligence in content management environments is still low today but growing.

The survey found that 19% of respondents have AI-driven content management initiatives in place or underway with another 44% making plans for AI capabilities. This represents an increase from a similar survey conducted in 2017 in which only 9% had AI in place.

What are you applying artificial intelligence for?*

Content marketing recommendations … 90%

Customer service/support content recommendations to agents and/or customers … 70%

Predicting the most relevant sales content … 50%

Identifying the most used content and topics … 50%

Identifying and removing redundant content … 20%

Document classification … 20%

Decision support systems … 10%

Other … 5%

There is a preference for cloud/SaaS deployment of content automation solutions, although a large percentage of the market is mainly concerned with finding the “right” solution rather than focused on how it is deployed. Even in highly regulated and sensitive industries such as financial services, cloud/SaaS was preferred to on-premise deployment. Cloud/SaaS deployment was the first choice of 37% of respondents, while on-premise software was the preference of 25%. But 39% indicated they just did not care, and only wanted the right solution. Nonetheless, McKendrick pointed out, “Content automation proponents and vendors are advised to ensure they are moving to cloud/SaaS deployment for the future in order to drive additional growth opportunities.”

While customer experience is at the forefront of content management goals, the survey pointed out that it plays an important role internally as well. The ability to serve employees is a critical aspect of content’s role in digital transformation, and there is a strong focus on internal content as well as content presented externally. Many content managers are also focused on delivering their content online, so it is available, anytime and anywhere.

*Figures may not equal 100% due to rounding and in some cases multiple responses were allowed.

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