DITA

Animated Infographics: How Do They Work and What Makes Them Effective?

The Content Wrangler - Tue, 2016-06-28 10:00

Many corporate communicators use infographics to provide audiences with an easy-to-understand graphic representation of otherwise complicated data. When thoughtfully designed, infographics improve comprehension. But many infographics fail to help us understand how things actually work.  This article explores the world of animated infographics, showcases several exceptional examples, and provides tips for creating your own. 

Animated Infographics: A Few Examples

 Infographics aim to describe—or instruct—in a quick and efficient manner. As a format it limits depth and breadth. Infographics provide little space for anything other than a “factual” utterance. Because of spatial limitations, infographics often assume the reader’s acceptance of factual accuracy (even if it links to other content for more detailed information). It closes further discussion on the topic within the confines of the infographic space. The Main Point Well-designed misinformation can spread quickly or even go viral (as we have all seen in the current political “social media” arena, mostly in the form of memes). Like its “static” cousin, the animated infographic can be an effective and engaging tool for communication. As a relatively new variation of an older genre, it holds lots of potential for extended application and innovation.

 

How to Build a Human

Eleanor’s Lutz  is a content creator who takes animated infographics to impressive heights. A designer and PhD student at the University of Washington, she runs the site Tabletop Whale, which contains numerous GIF-infographics (gifographics) on science-based topics.

How to Build a Human (above) presents an index illustrating the human journey from fertilization to birth. In terms of animation, this piece demonstrates how movement can be used in a dynamic manner. The animation does what the diagram shows and what the text says.

Produced without animation, this graphic would do a fair job at communicating effectively. The images, descriptive text, enumerated coordinates, and color codes in the graphic communicate the point. But animation provides a different way of experiencing that information. Its presentation of the process makes the experience a bit more concrete and less abstract.

 

engine-01

 How A Car Engine Works

 

How a Car Engine Works

The O’Neal brothers run a graphic design site called Animagraffs (the term they use to designate their animated infographic design projects). When How a Car Engine Works was first published in 2013, it went viral, garnering over 30K views in a single day. The example above is only part of the complete infographic.

In this piece, the O’Neal brothers show us how multiple infographics combine to present a large volume of detailed information. This approach is useful when individual infographic components contain nested layers of technical information.

 

 Butterflies of North America

 

42 Butterflies of North America

Similar to previous examples, 42 Butterflies of North America by Eleanor Lutz, is an index with animated components. Yet in this piece, movement functions differently. It illustrates neither a process (there is none) nor a distinction (you can’t tell butterflies apart by wing motion). The animated movements do not play an active—or correlative—role in conveying information.

Yes, the animation makes the infographic more entertaining, but to leave it at that is to say too little. In terms of material and aesthetic, the movements establish their own terms and space of engagement. The GIF-generated movements of each butterfly are distinct and repetitive. Collectively, they present us with a mass of visual polyrhythms at a large scale.

From a distance, the rhythms add a lifelike quality—a kind of “realism”—to the digital butterfly images. Up close, the synchronized polyrhythms highlight the brilliance of their digitally automated execution. The movement draws attention to the content. The attributes change depending on how we view it, how long we view it, upon what we are focusing, and from what distance.

By adding movement to the mix, this infographic goes beyond the purely informational—toward the aesthetic, in which both design and material are the centerpiece.

Another example of this type of infographic usage is Why Your Brain Craves Infographics by NeoMam Studios.

 Why Your Brain Craves Infographics

 

Why Your Brain Craves Infographics

Click here to view complete infographic.

This is actually a great “static” infographic by NeoMam Studios. Similar to the previous example, the informational payload is delivered through almost everything but the animated components. In this case, the animations (some of which are interactive) appeal to viewer sentiment, namely fun and humor. The piece gets its point across in an easy and entertaining fashion (which is what makes it effective).

Why Use Animated Infographics?

  • Novelty: Right now, most businesses aren’t using animated infographics (and many don’t even use static infographics), which presents an opportunity for differentiation.
  • Enhanced communications: Infographics are an effective medium for helping customers absorb large amounts of information in an engaging manner. Look at the O’Neal brothers’ example above. If they can present highly technical information in an entertaining and accessible way, imagine what you can do with your own product-related content.

For practical consideration, Eleanor Lutz makes a strong point:

“There’s a trade-off between adding animation and publishing something quickly (or cheaply)… it’s important to know when it’s actually worth it to add animation, and when it’s an unnecessary cost.”

Want to learn more about the pros and cons of infographics and gifographics? The site likeablesocialmedia.org has a wonderful infographic, Gifographic Pros and Cons, which explains this in greater detail.

Creating Animated Infographics

There are a number of approaches to creating animated infographics; some more complex than others. There are also different technologies you can use. For example, Eleanor Lutz uses Photoshop, Illustrator, Chimera, and (more recently) Python.

One popular type of animated infographic that is relatively easy to create is the GIF-infographic. You can do this using Photoshop or any number of other tools. Here’s a wonderful infographic that clearly explains the process (once again by Eleanor Lutz): Tabletop’s Guide to Making GIFs.

 How to make an animated infographic

 

A Few More Takeaways

What makes a good animated infographic?

To quote Lutz, “the qualities of a good animated infographic are fundamentally the same as for any other infographic – accurate, succinct, and easy to understand.”

It’s important to note that a well-constructed infographic is able to condense information and also able to accelerate the time of information absorption.

Last but not least, content creators should always consider the element of style. A distinctive brand always has a distinctive style. And good style is neither a superficial, nor manufactured element, but a conscientious effort on the company’s part to express its organizational culture, outward disposition, and overall product perspective.

What type of content is most suitable for creating animated infographics?

Determining what type of content is most suitable for creating animated infographics really depends on the type of infographic you are trying to create, and how you want the animated components to function in terms of delivering information or shaping the viewer’s experience.

For instance, Eleanor Lutz prefers to use animation for content concerning “topics dealing with motion, particularly cyclic motion… some good examples would include car motors or joint movement.” In contrast, the interactive moving eyeball (see image below) in NeoMam Studio’s Why your Brain Craves Infographics plays less of an informational function than an experiential one.

In short, content’s suitability for animation has more to do with the purpose for its animation rather than its intrinsic attributes.

 Visually wired

 

It’s not just about setting content into motion

Animating the infographic format is not just about moving parts. It’s also about the movement of the entire informational and experiential context—everything that moves despite the animation itself. Seen from this angle, static infographics are anything but devoid of movement. In some cases, you might find that animation can even impede the flow of information or the interactive capacity of the viewer.

“Static” infographics already facilitate a multiplicity of movements

How so? The “traditional” static infographic is designed to facilitate a far greater level of movement than text or video alone. Infographics encourage the viewer to browse the content and focus in on what’s important to them. Information is presented in a highly condensed, yet open format. It relies less on narrative, syntactical, or time sequences, and instead presents information as an open map.

Communicating With Animated Infographics Is Similar To, But Different, Than Writing

Infographic design draws upon multiple communication disciplines. As a whole, the genre presents us with various ways of presenting information with both structure and aesthetics in mind. Although there are many comparisons to be made (between writing and infographic design), here are a few (not so obvious) points worth considering:

  • Design: Infographic design goes well beyond the formatting of information. Graphics, content flow, rhetoric, and tone all play a critical role in infographic design.
  • Content Flow: When designing animated infographics it helps to think in terms of multi-directional content flow rather than narrative. Think map rather than story. Remember that your aim is to present information that can be grasped immediately despite the point at which your viewer starts reading, the sequence your viewer chooses to follow, or the information your viewer chooses to focus on.
  • Closure: Unlike other forms of communication, infographics aim to describe—or instruct—in a quick and efficient manner. As a format it limits depth and breadth. Infographics provide little space for anything other than a “factual” utterance. Because of spatial limitations, infographics often assume the reader’s acceptance of factual accuracy (even if it links to other content for more detailed information). Accuracy of information is therefore critical as infographics have a tendency to “close” further discussion on topics within the confines of the infographic space.

The Main Point

Animated infographics are an effective and engaging tool for communication. As a relatively new variation of an older genre, it holds lots of potential for extended use and innovation. Animated infographics—when done well—can help you differentiate your brand, make your business communications much more engaging, and enhance the customer experience.

The post Animated Infographics: How Do They Work and What Makes Them Effective? appeared first on The Content Wrangler.

Categories: DITA

Technical Writers With DITA Experience Needed at Dolby, San Francisco and Nürnberg

The Content Wrangler - Sat, 2016-06-25 15:03

Looking for new technical writing gig?  Dolby has two openings in San Francisco—and another in Nürnberg—for senior technical writers (writing in English) with experience creating DITA XML content.

What’s it like working at Dolby?

Well, I’m the manager. That might be the bad news. I’m busy and I can’t stand micromanaging, so what you get from me are high level goals and an expectation that YOU will chase your projects, not me. Everyone else around here is really nice and supportive, but there’s a pretty high expectation that if you’re working at Dolby, you know what you’re doing, and what you don’t know, you’ll take responsibility for figuring out—fast.

Dolby is a fairly typical San Francisco Bay Area tech company, but with some different, weirdly cool perks. We don’t do the pinball-until-midnight-with-a-chef-working-around-the-clock thing, but we do get to attend private screenings of the latest motion picture releases in some of the most technologically advanced movie theaters in the world. We get to go backstage at broadcast events like the Grammy’s, and see how amazing Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround sound actually gets put on air. We get to play in labs full of amazing audio and video gear.

 Independence Day movie

The technical writers who are most successful at Dolby are self-organizing fans of the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) and serious über-geeks who eat API references for breakfast, think digital signal processing is fascinating, know that HDMI, SDI, and TosLink cables make good neckwear, and can probably go on for several hours about their favorite Star Wars characters. (That last one would definitely not be me.) They can follow established processes—or enroll their colleagues in improving stupid processes. They enjoy thinking strategically about how to write and manage content for reuse.

If any of this sounds like you, please apply! If you know someone awesome who might be interested in any of these positions, please encourage them to apply. Help us get the word out by sharing these announcements on your professional social networks.

Thanks in advance—
Erin Vang, PMP
??? ??????????
Sr Manager, Broadcast & Vision Technical Publications

Dolby Laboratories, Inc.
1275 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
T +1 415 645 4170
http://www.dolby.com | erin.vang@dolby.com

 

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Categories: DITA

Disruptive Innovation Changes How Brands Do Business

The Content Wrangler - Thu, 2016-06-23 07:34

Disruptive innovation requires a new way of thinking. It requires the courage to do things differently, to break molds, to move in directions nobody has considered before. That’s how we create real progress, not just improvement.

But what, exactly, do we mean by disruptive innovation?

The term was defined by the American scholar, educator, author and Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen in 1995 as:

“A disruptive innovation is an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leaders and alliances.”

Other definitions include significant societal impact as an aspect of disruptive innovation.

In business, the term refers to a new offering, business model, or value proposition; one that takes on the dominant, incumbent leader in the market; one that has the potential to lead to its destruction.

 Industrial Revolution

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

According to a recently released paper titled The Fourth Industrial Revolution (from the World Economic Forum), big disruptions are heading our way.

“We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global community, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society.”

“There are three reasons why today’s transformations represent not merely a prolongation of the Third Industrial Revolution but rather the arrival of a Fourth and distinct one: velocity, scope, and systems impact. The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent. When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace. Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country. And the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.”

Disruption has already become a driving factor in the rise of new start-ups, products and services with the potential to change the industrial landscape as we know it.

The Winning Formula: Innovative Thinking Meets Technology Meets Design

Breaking the status quo—an established pattern, a routine—is what opens new doors. When we look at the big success stories of this century, then we can see a pattern. PayPal, Tesla, Airbnb: They each have become successful by entering established markets (banking, automobiles, hospitality) from the sidelines or from the bottom up. Armed with new technology and innovative thinking, they turned the markets they disrupted upside down. They went straight to disruptive innovation—bypassing innovation and improving upon an existing product—to developing new products that created new markets.

Innovation is the skilled engineer in a German car. Disruption is the creative renegade with a Harley and bad-ass tattoos.

But it doesn’t stop there. With technology at its core, we see virtually every aspect of our lives disrupted: Digital currencies, the cloud, 3D printing, wearables, film making, ebooks, publishing, research, e-commerce, wireless broadband, social networks, augmented reality, big data analytics, natural language processing, cognitive computing, drones, robots, self-driving cars, crowd sourcing, smart cities, the Internet of Everything

Each one, by itself, is likely to have a substantial impact on the fabric of our society. In combination, they can create an environment that is dramatically different and far more volatile than the world that came before—an environment filled with novel challenges but with great opportunities also.

Navigating Disruption: The Big Shift

Disruption typically involves a challenge to the seemingly entrenched success of an incumbent. A report by the Aspen Institute, titled Navigating Continual Disruption calls it The Big Shift:

…[disruptive innovation] can play out along two different dimensions??the scale of operations or ways of connecting with others.

Disrupting the scale of operations

Two diametrically opposed forms of disruption are playing out along this dimension, one that is driving toward greater fragmentation of operations and a second that supports increased concentration.

  • Increasing fragmentation—In significant parts of the economy, smaller economic entities are becoming more viable and are taking increasing share of markets from large, established firms. Empowered by the erosion of the scale economics that have protected incumbents, start-ups and small entrants will increasingly disrupt the leadership positions of large firms.
  • Increasing concentration—At the same time that increasing fragmentation is playing out in certain parts of the economy, increasing concentration is playing out in other parts. In many cases, concentration is not being driven by incumbent leaders but by “edge” participants who understand where and how scale economics are evolving to enable greater value creation.

Disrupting ways of connecting with others

Disruption can happen not just by aggregating resources. It can also be based mobilizing and coordinating resources, including human resources, in new ways that increase value for all participants. This is a direct reversal of the trend over the past several decades by which large, established companies intentionally reduced the number of relationships they maintained with suppliers and distribution channels in order to improve their efficiency. We are now seeing innovative approaches that help participants dramatically expand the scope and substance of their relationships with others, opening up <ahref=”http: globalcompact15.org=”” report=”” findings-level-1=”” 7-new-forms-of-collaboration-between-business”=””>new forms of collaboration and putting those who continue to adhere to the narrower practices of the past at an increasing disadvantage.

Raising The Bar

We’re on the verge of a creative revolution. It’s an exciting time, a time for technical innovation, creativity and philosophy to join forces.

In our experience as a branding and design firm (Marc Posch Design), and having developed hundreds of brands, a few patterns have emerged. There are various opportunities for change, from basic improvement and innovation to full on market disruption. Improvement happens by applying a fresh look, a bold claim or a new packaging. And it goes all the way to the macro level, where design, engineering, manufacturing and marketing are growing into something more organic, and entire industries—if not societies—are being transformed: That’s what we call disruptive innovation, that’s when we raise the bar from surviving to aspiring: from demonstrating technical details, facts, ingredients, to presenting values in a context consumers can and want to identity with.

aspiral2

Rattle The Cage

Through the evolution of the global economy, traditional markets have been transformed into an everything goes mixed martial arts fighting cage. And it’s a brutal fight. For the attacker entering the cage the question is how to find new tools and strategies to win the fight.

Disruption by design is the model that creates opportunities for change and allows innovations to thrive. In saturated markets, it’s the only way for newcomers to compete with the incumbent. Innovation alone does not win the fight anymore.

This is where we are on the side of entrepreneurs who want to enter the ring. With design thinking that helps to define the process, and with design strategy which creates not just the product through product development and branding, but also the marketing process that rattles the cage.

Designing Disruptive Innovation and Creating Success

The challenge and opportunities for creative professionals today is to be at the same table with the development team. Hiring a brand designer should not be an afterthought, the element that creates the logo, or a nice shiny package.

Branding has always been defined as how a brand behaves inside—and outside—its organization. And how it is perceived not only rationally, but also, deep down on an emotional level. Brand building in the age of disruptive innovation goes further: It creates a comprehensive and holistic brand experience offering change as one of the driving factors, selling ‘think different’ as a label that turns products into premium brands people wait in line for hours.

The new paradigm is strategic branding as the brain, and marketing as the executive, driving organizational change and growth through disruptive innovation.

When done correctly, it’s a powerful, galvanizing and transformational process that defies structure and elevates the creative team to an inspiring leadership role that sets the course for measurable business gains.

What are you waiting for? Let’s create some innovative disruption.

 

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Categories: DITA

Translation versus Localization: What’s the Difference?

The Content Wrangler - Wed, 2016-06-22 09:07

To compete in today’s global economy, organizations must adapt website and digital media content to resonate with international audiences. And yet, many companies, big and small, do not understand the important differences between translation and localization. In this article, Dr. Nitish Singh tackles translation versus localization and explains why the two complementary processes are important, but in different ways.

Translation versus Localization: What’s the Difference?

The terms localization and translation are often used interchangeably. And yet, while the terms and processes share similarities and purpose, the outcome is quite different.

To understand the differences, let’s start with some simple definitions:

What is Translation?

Translation is a word-for-word conversion, or a language conversion. If you want to make sure purchasers know how to effectively use your product, it is important that the source and target-language text match up precisely. The goal of translation is to achieve meaning equivalence by ensuring idiomatic, vocabulary, and conceptual equivalence.

What is Localization?

Localization (also referred to as l10n) involves taking a product and making it linguistically and culturally appropriate to the region where it will be used and sold. These changes are visible to the purchaser of the product or service and related in culturally connotative terms.

Meaning equivalence and linguistically and culturally appropriate are the key phrases to compare here. Both seem like processes or activities that are very involved, or complicated. Yet, knowing the difference between what is equal versus what is appropriate can be very important to the success of your globalization efforts.

 

 Translation

 

The Importance of Translation and Localization

Translation constitutes a subset of activities performed during the linguistic localization of a product or service. This is important because a majority of web users prefer to read web content in their local language. They feel more at ease and inclined to stay on a site that is written in their native language.

Localization itself is also a subset of activities performed during the globalization of a product. The word “locale” is used here instead of “country” because a country may have more than one set of language and cultural requirements. For example, in Canada, companies need to localize websites and/or social media accounts for French or English-speaking end-users.

Translation versus Localization: Where the Differences Come Into Play

With translation, problems of intent and clarity can arise if the source language is left in a word-to-word equivalence, as can be the case with machine translations that aren’t followed by a professional editing cycle. Even if a source language is translated by a highly trained linguist, it may still lack the level of cultural and technical nuance required to effectively resonate within the target audience.

While simple translation may be appropriate for some content types in certain markets, localization is most often needed for adapting highly-emotive, creative marketing content so that it creates the desired impact across all locales.

Localization is also used for the content that drives customer action and interaction with your brand. Because of this, translation and localization differ on a tactical level.

We can see this best when localizing a website to a specific country or culture. Special attention needs to be paid to local conventions, time and date, currency and number formats, units of measure, addresses and phone numbers, layout and orientation, icons and symbols, language and verbal style, colors, and aesthetics. For example: Yahoo has web sites for almost 24 countries in 12 languages, and employs localization teams physically based in target countries in order to develop and maintain the country specific web sites.

 

flags of the nations of the world

Translation versus Localization: Turning Visitors into Customers

According to Forrester Research, localization leads to better usability and satisfaction of target consumers, and turns visitors into customers. In addition, a well-rounded and executed globalization process can improve efficiencies across all aspects of the business. Dell Computer Corporation which sells to businesses and consumers online in 170 countries and 34 languages, is running all e-commerce properties on the same custom-built platform with the internationalization (i18n) process, making large site upgrades, small tweaks or new functionality changes more quickly, more cheaply and in ways that don’t impact the end-user’s shopping experience.  As a result, Dell expects international sales to account for 32 percent of this quarter’s revenues.

As we view these processes as they truly are: subsets of the overall activity of globalization, we can better understand not only how they complement each other, but also identify when a company should deploy the two. The end result will help you move from strategic planning to implementation and beyond.

Learn from the Experts

If you need to learn more about global content strategy, consider attending the 2016 Brand2Global Conference, September 28-29 in Silicon Valley. Brand2Global is an annual conference jam-packed with real-world examples direct from leading global brand marketers.

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Categories: DITA

Content-Driven Customer Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing

The Content Wrangler - Sun, 2016-06-19 13:16

 Book coverIt’s difficult to recognize shifting trends and movements when we’re in the middle of them. Imagine a writer in the 1500s saying, “This is the Renaissance! I must create and compete in an era of cultural transformation!” Today that writer would probably turn to Twitter for such a declaration.

Although not as earth-changing as the Renaissance, a new movement in marketing has begun. That’s the argument that Robert Rose and Carla Johnson present in Experiences: The Seventh Era of Marketing. Rose and Johnson identify this new movement and offer instruction and encouragement for marketers, content creators, and strategists as they figure out how to be a part of it.

Content-Driven Customer Experiences: The New Era of Marketing

What is this new era? As Rose and Johnson explain, the seventh era of marketing is not about creating campaigns or just describing products and services. The new era is about creating content-driven customer experiences.

“In this new era,” Rose and Johnson write:

Unique, impactful, differentiating content-driven experiences will become as important as product development.” Marketers need to shift their focus to “creating delightful experiences to inform, entertain, engage, and evolve the customer.

Coca-Cola, Red Bull, and Kraft are some of the brands Rose and Johnson call out for their forward-looking content marketing efforts. Storytellers in these organizations don’t just describe products and features and benefits. They create value for their employers by using both content and the experiences in which that content lives.

A simple example of this is the Michelin Guides, which don’t overtly market Michelin tires. “In most cases,” Rose and Johnson write, “the value delivered from these experiences will actually be separate and distinct from the product or service itself.”

Rose’s and Johnson’s thought leadership adds credibility and urgency to their claims. Among other roles, Rose is the chief strategy officer for the Content Marketing Institute and a cohost of the podcast PNR’s This Old Marketing. Johnson of Type A Communications is an instructor for the Content Marketing Institute and the Online Marketing Institute. Both speak and write often about content marketing, and together the two of them have boosted the marketing efforts of numerous government and corporate clients. Drawing on their experiences, research, and reflection, they are definitely qualified to identify a new movement in marketing.

Experiences: The 7th Era Of Marketing from Robert Rose on Vimeo.

Context: A Little Marketing History

To help put the new era of experiences in perspective, Rose and Johnson remind us of the earlier phases of marketing:

  • The Trade Era (about 1850-1900) was dominated by manufacturers’ and farmers’ efforts to find the best place to sell their goods.
  • The Production Era (1900-1920) tapped into the United States’ fascination with mass production and distribution.
  • The Sales Era (1920-1940) ushered in the focus on price and salespeople.
  • The Marketing Department Era (1940-1960) found corporations establishing their own marketing teams or working with advertising agencies.
  • The Marketing Company Era (1960-1990) started marketers on the path to creating more meaningful messaging and company branding.
  • The Relationship Era (1990-2015) focused on establishing and maintaining rewarding interactions with customers.

The Experiences Era picks up (continues) where the Relationship Era leaves off.

“The Experiences Era may be as short as the Relationship Era,” Rose and Johnson write, “or it may, itself, be a transition to something completely different. The future is unknowable, of course, but by understanding where we’ve been we can better navigate where we’re going.”

 Marketing Team Meeting

The Need for Content Creation Management

How are marketers supposed to do their jobs in this new era? How are we going to create systems and processes that produce valuable experiences?

Rose and Johnson advocate for content creation management, a subset of customer experience management. They define CCM as “a conceptual framework to facilitate the organization, creation, development, and management of owned experiential content platforms for marketing purposes.” (I’m hoping the tone of this definition helps persuade management to fund such an effort.)

The goal of such a framework is to help marketers use content to create experiences that stand on their own.

Rose and Johnson outline a 12-step approach to establishing a CCM framework, and it’s a challenging list. For example, step 1 is “inspire a revolution in the organization.” If a marketing team is able to survive that step, then they’re on their way to creating, organizing, managing, measuring, and improving the CCM framework and the experiences it produces.

Other tactics and techniques—such as story mapping and internal marketing—are also important in this new marketing era. But my thoughts started to wander in the latter chapters of the book as I took in so many better practices and suggestions for transforming businesses with content. Rose and Johnson keep the ideas coming, but how can one person or even one team possibly act on them? How can we, or will we, take these new approaches to heart—and to our clients and businesses?

 Marketing strategy

 

Avoid Taking On Too Much At One Time

We can’t do it all. Earlier in the book, the authors caution us about trying to take on every communications channel and every tactic. “The marketer’s role is to find a happy medium,” Rose and Johnson write. “We should be creating a balanced portfolio of appropriate, relevant, and high-impact experiences at ONLY the stages of the buyer’s journey where we can be most influential and deliver the most value.”

Toward the end of the book, as if sensing how overwhelming all the research and recommendations are, Rose and Johnson slow down. And here they regained all my attention.

“If we’re perfectly honest,” they confide, “we care much less about the companies you work for—and much more about you.”

This book is as much a pep talk as a presentation of better content marketing practices. Rose and Johnson know the challenges marketers face. There are no easy answers, no templates to fill out. But there is great opportunity to connect with customers and each other with the stories we tell.

Has the seventh era of marketing officially begun? We’ll probably only know for sure after we look back at this time from years away. Today we can all point to companies we know—perhaps our own clients or employers—who still operate in the Marketing Company or Relationship Eras. But Rose and Johnson make a convincing argument that we SHOULD be in a new content-powered era. And these authors provide sound advice, strategies, and tactics for how marketers and other content professionals can survive and succeed in the brave new world of experiences.

Buy the book.

 

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Categories: DITA

[JOBS] Sr. Marketing Manager for Industry Marketing

The Content Wrangler - Sun, 2016-06-19 10:35

Horton Final Logo

Sr. Marketing Manager for Industry Marketing

Location | Santa Clara, CA

The Sr. Marketing Manager for Industry Marketing partners with marketing and sales colleagues to create compelling marketing content on how Hortonworks customers in every major industry are transforming their businesses with Hortonworks Data Platform and Hortonworks DataFlow through support, consulting and training offered by the Big Data experts at Hortonworks.

The Hortonworks Industry Marketing team drives our strategy for communicating that value to several key industries, including: telecommunications, retail, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, financial services, transportation and oil & gas.

The primary responsibility of this role will be to produce a large amount of high-quality content (case studies, blog posts, white papers, presentations and videos) for three marketing and sales objectives:

  • raise general market awareness of Hortonworks’ real-world value in target industries,
  • capture and qualify targeted leads within our digital marketing engine and
  • accelerate the sales cycle by enabling the sales team to engage with prospects in meaningful conversations.

The individual hired for this position will take both a strategic and productive role in brainstorming, creating and distributing content to generate more leads and shorten the sales pipeline.

If you’re interested in this position, or know someone who might be, go here to get more information and apply online.

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Categories: DITA

Global Marketing Insight: Localizing Content for 70 Countries or More

The Content Wrangler - Mon, 2016-06-13 17:10

Localizing content may sound simple, but it is a very complex and intricate task. In this brief conversation, Professor Nitish Singh discusses with Devyani Bhattacharjee, Director of Marketing Localization, how SAP manages multicultural content across more than 70 locales. Localization at SAP means managing both locale-specific imagery and cultural elements in copy, images, colors selected and symbols used.

This Global Marketing Insight video is provided by Brand2Global, the conference for global marketers, September 28-29, 2016 in Silicon Valley. Brand2Global Conference is an annual event designed for professionals who drive global marketing and are responsible for international market share and revenue. If you’re a global marketing practitioner, this is the conference for you. Learn more.

The post Global Marketing Insight: Localizing Content for 70 Countries or More appeared first on The Content Wrangler.

Categories: DITA

Emoji SPARQL????!

bobdc.blog - Sun, 2016-06-12 15:46
If emojis have Unicode code points, then we can... Bob DuCharme http://www.snee.com/bobdc.blog
Categories: DITA

SAVE THE DATE - 2016 RSuite User Conference and Tech Training Day

Really Strategies - Wed, 2016-06-08 15:35

SAVE THE DATE

Banner-_-Register-Now_2.gif

 

If you have an interest in RSuite, please join us for the annual RSuite User Conference and Tech Day at The Hub CityView in Philadelphia, just a short walk from Philadelphia's 30th Street Station (view map here).

You'll find this event to be informative and useful, whether you are an RSuite user, developer, consultant, or prospective client.  If you have any questions, please contact me at dturner@rsicms.com.

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016:

Tech Training & Evening Reception

 Thursday, September 22nd, 2016:

Full Day RSuite User Conference

NOTE: Seating is limited, so register early to reserve your seat.

Register now

Special thanks to MarkLogic for being the exclusive Gold Sponsor of the RSuite User Conference and Tech Training Day (#RSuiteUC16).

MarkLogic

Categories: DITA

Balancing the Desire for Standardization with the Demand for Localization

The Content Wrangler - Mon, 2016-06-06 17:10

Can there be a global brand strategy? This question is not only context specific but also very much driven by understanding customer needs. Professor Nitish Singh discusses with Leona Frank, Manager of European Brand Strategy and Localization at VistaPrint, how research can provide valuable insights to help a company decide the best mix of global versus local in its brand strategy. The discussion further goes into implementation aspects of creating a truly localized experience for consumers worldwide.

This Global Marketing Insight video is provided by Brand2Global, the conference for global marketers, September 28-29, 2016 in Silicon Valley. Brand2Global Conference is an annual event designed for professionals who drive global marketing and are responsible for international market share and revenue. If you’re a global marketing practitioner, this is the conference for you. Learn more.

The post Balancing the Desire for Standardization with the Demand for Localization appeared first on The Content Wrangler.

Categories: DITA

Developing a Unified Content Strategy: Learning from the Masters

The Content Wrangler - Wed, 2016-06-01 22:38

Editor’s Note: The Content Wrangler is presenting a weekly series of twelve articles that provide useful insights and practical guidance for those who produce customer support websites. Columnist Robert Norris shares how to overcome operational challenges related to harvesting, publishing and maintaining online help knowledge bases. His eleventh installment examines why and how we should leverage the content expertise concentrated in the marketing team to help us develop a unified content strategy.

A Unified Content Strategy

In boardrooms across the globe, dashboard metrics and C-level briefs critically examine the performance of every marketing initiative, because marketing drives growth. Yet, even though our MBA’s will attest that knowledge drives profits, the return on investment of our efforts to capture and publish useful knowledge on behalf of staff, customers and partners is not (yet) on the executive agenda.

Today’s business leaders have inherited a lop-sided content strategy that focuses the talents of authors, editors, artists and technicians on collaboratively developing exceptional marketing materials, while the other business units—support, operations, human resources, information technology, etc.—are seldom considered or included. This situation leads to disparities in consistency. It also impacts timely delivery. It’s important to understand that differences between what we promise to our prospects and customers—and what we actually deliver to them— can damage our credibility, result in avoidable (and often expensive) problems, and undermine our commitment to knowledge sharing.

In practice, many website contributors find publishing knowledge for future use to be a mysterious, tedious, and under-appreciated burden. Our prospects and customers, on the other hand, are frustrated by the lack of useful content. They also tire of searching endlessly for content treasures buried beneath clunky navigation. As a result, they often abandon our sites to find unvetted answers elsewhere. Though our websites may serve unique target audiences, the premise upon which this series of articles is based is that developing and managing all business content via a consolidated publishing process is the most cost-effective way to optimize results.

 Team of workers thinking through a problem

The Business Case for Enterprise Content Strategy

For many who come to accept the argument for an enterprise content strategy, there is a compelling business case to support making a strategic change:

Since our multiple websites feed demand from marketing, sales, intranet, customer support, training and other audiences, by streamlining daily operations—as we do with goods and services—we can boost profits through increasing productivity, reducing costs, and optimizing technology.

During this author’s twenty years of helping businesses, governments, and universities successfully harvest and publish useful knowledge, a common shortcoming has arisen time and again:

Most organizations have the desire and capability—but lack the operational commitment?—to effectively publish via all of their digital channels.

The contention that most multi-website organizations have not yet invoked a unified content strategy to produce high-quality content for all audiences is admittedly a broad-brush characterization of a complex topic. While acknowledging that each organization faces unique challenges, a common trait among these organizations is a lop-sided content strategy where digital publishing expertise—authors, editors, artists, technicians—is concentrated in the marketing department to an extent that dramatically surpasses that of colleagues in other areas. This disparity in expertise establishes differing quality trajectories that spawn disparities between the digital channels. Most of the time, these disparities go unnoticed because content operations are siloed. Over time, marketing content rapidly becomes more sophisticated, content produced by other departments falls further behind, eventually reaching a point where the disparities appear unbridgeable. The following example is illustrative.

Suggested reading: Unified Content Strategy: Fact or Fiction

 Ikea website

Et tu, IKEA?

The award-winning global marketing team for IKEA is frequently lauded for its innovative content strategy and skilled execution.

Masters of social media and cheeky banter with potential customers, their broad spectrum of offerings includes a traditional print catalog with annual demand that doubles that of the Bible to a self-produced web series with bankable Hollywood stars. Given that IKEA is marketing to potential customers already enamored with their products and prices, the major sales obstacle the organization faces is a lack of confidence many potential customers have in their own ability to assemble a purchased item. To counter that problem, the global juggernaut has invested tremendous energy and resources to develop assembly instructions localized and geared for target audiences. Yet, despite that investment, the assembly of a piece of IKEA furniture has long been and remains a pervasive comedic staple because so many people have found the IKEA assembly experience to be incomparably frustrating:

With 2015 revenue exceeding $37B from selling customer-assembled furniture—and armed with extensive in-house digital content expertise—IKEA is both incented and equipped to produce knowledge base resources that make the process as easy as possible for its customers. In 2012, IKEA launched a much heralded YouTube-based channel focused upon providing video assembly tutorials to accompany written instructions. As of this writing, that channel is chock full of…marketing videos. Not surprisingly, the marketing mavens at IKEA were quick to spot another opportunity to reach potential customers and they jumped on it. Along with their Facebook-based marketing content, IKEA has produced hundreds of compelling videos to inspire potential customers to buy more products.

In contrast, the entire library of assembly tutorials—created to support over 10,000 products and last updated 15 months ago—contains but nine (9) videos. Worse yet, the IKEA US website presents users with non-functional links to orphaned assembly videos. It’s easy to imagine the reaction of a customer—already frustrated by the written instructions for installing a kitchen sink cabinet—who miraculously discovers a rare how-to video on IKEA’s website, only to find that it’s a dead link…The linguistic skill to cuss like a Swedish sailor would certainly come in handy!

So, here we have a global retail behemoth with the desire and capability to produce knowledge base resources that are in demand by their millions of customers, but those given the responsibility failed to execute even as the content wranglers in marketing made it look easy. Sadly, this outcome is not unusual in organizations with a silo-based approach to content operations.

Gauging Operational Commitment

Not yet sure if your organization has instituted an enterprise content strategy that drives content operations? The warning signs of a lopsided approach include:

  • Disproportionate investment of time, effort and expertise into one target audience to the detriment of others, e.g. significantly more energy invested into one-off leadership briefings about the new product than was spent preparing the customer support team for launch.
  • Large variances in quality across websites due to inconsistent production, e.g. copy for troubleshooting resources lacks much-needed graphic enhancement and/or contains errors a professional editor would spot and correct.
  • Uncoordinated publishing and gaps in coverage, e.g. announcements promising online resources are released before the content is available.

Should we find signs of a significant disparity in the quality and timeliness of the content publishing operations across our digital channels, we can dig a bit deeper by comparing the efficacy of channel-specific content operations via the mechanisms used during a resource’s lifecycle. Article six, Devising a Content Strategy for Every Audience, offers a task list from which specific operational elements can be examined:

After a resource is authored or acquired, the lifecycle includes:

  • Production: edit, enhance, format
  • Approval: review, vet, release
  • Publish: configure for discoverability and reuse by adding metadata, setting prominence and adding structure
  • Curate: couple with useful ancillary resources
  • Improve: identify and address deficiencies via feedback and telemetry
  • Re-certify: scheduled periodic review
  • Update: accommodate changes from minor updates to revision
  • Retire: archive

As discussed in article 10, Building a Robust Content Quality System, absent a professional approach to content operations, a single knowledge base will eventually become unwieldy. An organization that does not strategically address these operational requirements to invoke responsibility and capacity for multi-website content quality control will produce knowledge bases that disappoint and frustrate users, which adversely impacts productivity, brand credibility and return on investment.

 Risk ahead

Deficient Content is Both a Risk and a Burden

Organizations with multiple websites to manage do not typically apply the same rigorous oversight to intranet, extranet and customer support sites that they do to their marketing efforts on the web. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), product instructions, topical web pages are typically created quickly in response to an emerging need. The “publishing process” often consists of a quick re-read after hitting the enter key sans editing, formatting, testing and tweaking. Never mind that the same management team overseeing this work would have a collective conniption over a typo in a PowerPoint brief delivered to a vice president. One might ask, “What’s the big deal, it’s just a FAQ?” But, when that poorly framed FAQ steers an important partner solving a time-critical problem into making a painful mistake, it’s apt to become a big deal in no time.

Inadequately prepared content lurks like a landmine in our knowledge bases waiting to be triggered by an unsuspecting user. When surfaced, it reflects poorly upon our brand and requires unscheduled corrective action that draws scarce resources from priority tasks. When we consider the burden of avoidable risks and costs, yet another compelling argument for streamlining publishing operations surfaces.

It’s understandable that a less experienced content wrangler evaluating the task of creating modest content resources would intuitively conclude that they can be readily produced by one knowledgeable person in a brief period with no muss nor fuss. Given the demands on scarce resources like professional authors and editors, why would an organization invoke a formal publishing process for a straightforward set of instructions or a few paragraphs of text? These perceptions are common, but dangerously uninformed. Managers involved in content operations need our help to recognize that an effective knowledge base resource must:

  • Balance brevity and usefulness: Uncommon artful expertise is required to craft useful and intuitive knowledge resources that serve the needs of a spectrum of users. It’s problematic that casual observers routinely misconstrue the sophistication of simple-looking content. As discussed in the third article, The Curse of Elegance, the better the team does their work, the easier it looks to their users, colleagues and supervisors.
  • Complement—not conflict with—existing resources: Publishing a useful FAQ is not a trivial accomplishment. The question must be phrased in the vernacular of the user, not the expert. The answer must also be appropriate and consistent with other published information and should alert the user to other useful resources. The metadata must make it readily discoverable and the navigation must make it prominent in proper context.
  • Be maintained: Every published resource burdens the organization with lifecycle maintenance. Informally created resources are far more likely to become buried in a knowledge base—only to surface later as problems—than are those that are produced via a formal publishing process.
  • Serve the needs of future users: An informally created resource published in rapid response to an emerging need is unlikely to serve future users as well as a resource that is reviewed and tweaked by experts, including audience advocates.

It would be a remarkable person who has the subject matter expertise; familiarity with existing resources; writing, editing, formatting and technical acumen; and in-depth knowledge of the needs of users to craft a knowledge resource that meets the above criteria. Even so, it would be even more remarkable if that unusually talented person were available to produce it.

Practically speaking, once we accept the assertion that every published item warrants attention to quality, then it makes sense to invoke a team-based process as the draft is composed, edited, tested and tweaked.

One can summarize the above by stating that many skills are needed—along with significant expertise—to produce a high-quality, professional resource.

This begets a question:

“Is it reasonable to expect that useful, timely, high-quality website content will be crafted without a professional publishing process?”

The answer is found via the same logic we apply to evaluating our goods and services: the measure of value for what we produce is signaled by the nature of demand. Put plainly, until users are pounding the desk for more resources, our knowledge bases have ample room for improvement.

Framed affirmatively, the return on investment for content operations increases when all of the various audiences for information related to the new product or service have access to timely, high quality information tailored to their needs. Factor in increased efficiency and productivity—along with enhanced risk mitigation—and we have a compelling business case for an enterprise content strategy that streamlines how the organization develops, publishes and maintains content for all audiences.

 Marketing team at work

The Pros at Multi-Channel Publishing Operations

Those striving to become skilled content wranglers have much to learn from the digital content pros in marketing. Though each organization will configure its enterprise publishing operations uniquely, it’s likely that many of those who have been carrying the load for individual knowledge bases in the past will assume formal roles that require advancing their content-related skills. When producing important content, our marketing colleagues pay keen attention to writing, editing, enhancing, formatting, branding, reviewing and distribution.

This is because they recognize that:

  • Subject matter expertise is needed to provide key information
  • Editing is a vital contribution to ensure proper tone, depth of coverage, terminology, etc.
  • Enhancing boosts understanding
  • Formatting ensures readability and consistency with similar resources
  • Reviewing confirms that the content is appropriate and vetted
  • Structuring ensures that the content being produced can be readily repurposed
  • Distribution (publication) alerts the audience and ensures that out-of-date materials are retired

Learning from the Masters

In this series of articles, we’ve laid the foundation for consolidated content operations by making the business case for a unified content strategy to leadership, engaging knowledge workers to determine feasibility and draft the plan, fostering stakeholder support from middle- and upper-management, establishing a content quality system based on explicit ownership and teaming with our colleagues in support to refine the content we produce. Via this comprehensive approach, we have substantial organizational support to engage the content wranglers in marketing and tap their expertise to streamline content operations across the enterprise.

Role of the Publishing Operations Committee

As part of the strategy we advocated, we built a framework for implementation in that the operations committee is charged with fact-finding, planning, process creation and documenting while the sponsors’ committee provides oversight, resourcing, problem-solving and support. The following principles should inform the nature of the operations committee’s engagement with those in marketing from whom we seek expertise and guidance:

  • Acknowledge the Risks & Burden Upfront: Our colleagues in marketing are busy working on priority tasks while under intense scrutiny by the C-level. As successful as their last campaigns may have been, their present value is largely determined by how quickly, creatively and effectively they deliver on the next. In the midst of this pressure-packed environment, they are being asked to help other departments—who lack their digital publishing talent, experience and resources—to join them in consolidating content operations. In short, they are being told to assume much risk while the reward seems fuzzy, at best.

    Tactic: Plan assiduously to mitigate likely concerns by recruiting marketing experts to contribute to early discussions. This approach will surface specific issues that can be addressed from the outset, e.g. timing, scope, responsibilities. Moreover, when the topic is eventually broached with the marketing team—not only will the message be pre-framed to address their concerns—they will have heard of (and likely appreciate) the effort.

  • Make it Official: Per the new content strategy, participants in the effort will have their job descriptions updated to reflect the tasks. This action elevates the importance of the project, sanctions the upcoming work and relieves some of the natural angst that accompanies unfamiliar tasking.

    Tactic: Though this key step is in the domain of Human Resources, the keyboarding of amended job descriptions is likely to fall upon very busy middle-managers. Before placing this on their plates, the operations committee has the opportunity to foster good will by developing suggested task descriptions for each role.

  • Align Expectations: Before energy is spent dealing with specific elements of workflow and process, it’s important to ensure that expectations regarding outcomes are aligned. For example, prior to examining various options to expand the capacity of scarce editorial resources, it’s vital that there be collective agreement that all published content benefits from copy editing. From that shared starting point, the brainstorming will be more productive.

    Tactic: In article 7, Your Content Strategy: Is it Feasible?, we introduced an exercise that advocates for the new content strategy used to frame the operational requirements needed to enact it. That deliverable was briefed to leadership to get the ball rolling and now serves the operations committee as a key resource from which to configure operational roles, responsibilities and processes.

  • Make it Fun: The hard work to build consensus support for the new enterprise content strategy has resulted in a sanctioned and resourced initiative. The operations committee—made up of professional and aspiring content wranglers—are on the precipice of enacting a strategic change with the potential to dramatically improve the organization’s ability to capture and share knowledge. Though the responsibility to get it right may be daunting to committee members, the foundation upon which this initiative is built was purposefully engineered to assure success. In particular, leadership and management stakeholders are oriented via compelling logic to maintain realistic expectations, e.g. the new strategy values discovery of what does—and what doesn’t—work. For experienced content wranglers, this may be the first time in memory that their efforts on a major initiative are so well supported, impactful and appreciated.

    Tactic: This is a time for creative solutions to thorny problems and that is best fostered by building enthusiasm such that all contributors are inspired to be bold. And, who better to help the operations committee generate a spirit of confidence than the marketing team? In addition to their mastery of content, they are experts at building excitement: Bring on the swag and schedule an offsite! The happier the contributors, the better the results.

Last Week: Robert’s previous article, Building a Robust Content Quality System, covered how to overcome operational challenges related to harvesting, publishing and maintaining online knowledge bases. His tenth installment examines the framework for a consolidated quality control program based on explicit content ownership.

Next Week: Robert wraps up this series with a glimpse into the future. Holding a Tiger by the Tail, examines the likely impact—and repercussions—of achieving our goal to radically improve our organization’s ability to share useful knowledge via exceptional content.

 Bengal tiger

The post Developing a Unified Content Strategy: Learning from the Masters appeared first on The Content Wrangler.

Categories: DITA

Global Marketing Insight: Don’t Translate, Transcreate!

The Content Wrangler - Wed, 2016-06-01 17:09

When developing content for multiple locales, in multiple languages, companies struggle with the idea of translation versus transcreation. Transcreation is about recreating the content in a language and style that connects with the consumer in a meaningful and emotional way. Professor Nitish Singh and Frank Hartkopf, Head of European Content, Axonn Media, explore the importance of transcreation to create content which truly hits the sweet spot of the local consumer.

This Global Marketing Insight video is provided by Brand2Global, the conference for global marketers, September 28-29, 2016 in Silicon Valley. Brand2Global Conference is an annual event designed for professionals who drive global marketing and are responsible for international market share and revenue. If you’re a global marketing practitioner, this is the conference for you. Learn more.

 

The post Global Marketing Insight: Don’t Translate, Transcreate! appeared first on The Content Wrangler.

Categories: DITA

Delivering Personalized Content Experiences: Segmenting Content and Audience

The Content Wrangler - Wed, 2016-06-01 10:42

I’ve got a confession to make. It’s kind of embarrassing. But, here goes.

I don’t practice what I preach. That’s right. Not. At. All. And that’s got to change.

Although I have spent most of my professional life evangelizing the need for others to deliver personalized content—the right content to the right people, at the right time, in the right format—I haven’t been doing it myself.

Yes, I know how stupid that sounds. I know the steps involved in delivering personalized content experiences. I even teach others how to do it. I just don’t do it myself.

Delivering Personalized Content Experiences:
Practicing What We Preach

I’m not alone in failing to practice what I preach. Companies much larger than mine—software firms in the content space, for example—don’t practice what they preach. Ironically, they sell software designed to help you better create, manage, and deliver your content, but they seldom use their own tools to create, manage, and deliver their own content. That’s lame. It’s hypocritical. And it’s a missed opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of the products they sell with a real-world case study. Doing so would differentiate them from the competition. And, it would provide them with a powerful tool that could help them win new business.

As a small company, The Content Wrangler doesn’t have the resources larger organizations do. We don’t have the staff, the budget, or the underlying infrastructure to adopt many of the content production tools we recommend to our clients. Lack of money and staff are fairly solid reasons why we can’t do exactly as our clients do. But, those reasons don’t excuse us from trying to accomplish the same things, perhaps using different tools and technologies.

We must be willing to try to practice what we preach.

Reasons Versus Excuses

Over the past decade, I have accumulated a long list of good reasons for not practicing what I preach. But, after an honest assessment, it turns out many of my reasons are nothing more than excuses.

Realizing the difference between a reason and an excuse is a great lesson to learn. And, it’s the focus of my efforts as an entrepreneur today.?? Reasons are causes that serve as explanations. They don’t seek to defend, condone, or justify shortcomings. Their only job is to provide a factual explanation for why something is the way it is.

Excuses, on the other hand, are designed to put the blame on someone—or something—else.

What’s the difference between a reason and an excuse? Accountability.

 Stop Making Excuses

Here’s an example of an excuse:

  • Me (to a software company marketing person): “Do you have any examples of intelligent content on your website?”
  • Software marketing manager: “No, I’m sorry. We don’t. We don’t have the time to create examples using our own content and our own technology. But we do have a slide deck that will help you envision how it might work.”

Here’s an example of a reason:

  • Me (to a software company marketing person): “Do you have any examples of intelligent content on your website?”
  • Software marketing manager: “No, I’m sorry. We don’t have examples available today because we drastically underestimated the volume of work required to get the new system to market. As a result, we’re realizing we need to adjust our content strategy, budget, and staff in order to create a real-world example using our own content and the products we sell.”

Notice how the excuse attempts to blame the absence of examples on a lack of time and how the reason makes the company accountable for their shortcomings.

Delivering Personalized Content Experiences:
Categorizing Content and Connecting Systems

There are many excuses I could offer up to explain away why I have not been able to provide more personalized content experiences. And, truth be told, I have a few good reasons. But, the fact is, my excuses aren’t going to get me closer to my goal, so I’m going to have to find ways to overcome the reasons (shortcomings).

Earlier this year, we redesigned The Content Wrangler website and launched it as an online magazine about content and the people who produce it. In order to improve our ability to deliver the right content to the right people, when, where, and how they need it, we first had to break down the silos preventing content from being automatically delivered. The first step to enabling this capability involved connecting our website publishing tool—WordPress—to our email delivery system, MailChimp.

To make that happen, we:

  • Inventoried our legacy content (to determine what content was worth keeping, and what content should be retired)
  • Archived legacy content marked for retirement
  • Developed a content categorization strategy (to allow us to add descriptive tags to each piece of content)
  • Built an email subscription form that allows subscribers to select the categories that interest them (to allow us to automatically deliver content to each email subscriber based on their personal preferences)
  • Connected WordPress to MailChimp (via APIs)

Because each piece of content in WordPress is tagged with category level metadata (e.g. content strategy, visual communication, localization, cognitive computing, intelligent content, etc.), we will soon be able to instruct our email system to deliver content automatically to subscribers based on the categories of content they prefer. That means that when we publish an article to our website about content strategy, all subscribers who expressed an interest in content about content strategy will be sent an email containing that article. Subscribers who have not indicated they are interested in content strategy, will not receive an email.

Of course, there will be challenges; reasons why we can’t do exactly what we want to the way we originally envisioned. For example, we will need to figure out how to automatically control the frequency of the emails we send, merge single emails based on categories into a single digest version, and manage time zone, delivery date, and other preferences. Each time we discover a challenge, we’ll focus on finding a systematic way to eliminate it. No more excuses.

Will we succeed? Not always. But we’ll get closer to the Holy Grail each time.

Keep an eye out for additional improvements over the next year. We’ll be working behind the scenes to create better content experiences for our subscribers.

In the interim, help us deliver only the content you desire. Join The Content Wrangler Insider’s List. Select the categories of content you’d like to follow and we’ll use your personal preferences to deliver relevant content into your email inbox. Insider’s List subscribers receive exclusive access to members-only content, free access to software tools, invitations to in-person and virtual events, discounts on conferences, and sneak peeks at new tools and emerging technologies.

Join the Insider’s List today!

 Subscribe button on computer keyboard

 

The post Delivering Personalized Content Experiences: Segmenting Content and Audience appeared first on The Content Wrangler.

Categories: DITA

Content Delivery: The Misunderstood Piece of the Product Content Puzzle

The Content Wrangler - Tue, 2016-05-31 10:06

Product content. It’s critical to business success. When done well, it can inform, educate, and motivate. It can help us save money. And, it can even drive sales—but only if it’s delivered to the right person at the right time, in the right language and format, and on the device of the consumers’ choosing.

Content professionals spend a lot of time talking about the content creation and content management phases of the content lifecycle, but they seldom talk much about delivery. That’s because delivery is often misunderstood. And, it can be challenging. It requires a different skill set and specialized tools designed for the job.

On Tuesday, June 21, 2016, join Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler, for part one of a free, three-part webinar series on content delivery. The first webinar in the series kicks off with a discussion about delivery with content strategy maven Rahel Anne Bailie, Chief Knowledge Officer at Scroll UK, and intelligent content guru, Joe Gelb, President of Zoomin Software. You’ll learn what delivery is, where it fits, why it’s important, and how it works. You’ll discover how some forward-thinking organizations leverage the power of dynamic content delivery to ensure prospects and customers alike have access to the right product content when, where, and how they need it.

Register today!

And, if you like this topic, chances are you’ll be interested in these webinars in the same series:

The post Content Delivery: The Misunderstood Piece of the Product Content Puzzle appeared first on The Content Wrangler.

Categories: DITA

Gilbane Advisor 5-30-16 &#8211; Content, Commerce and Deep Links

Deep links and Android Instant Apps Benedict Evans picks up on something important for Google. From his newsletter… Cartoon from xkcd … the new Instant Apps feature for Android is hugely important. If you tap on a deep link anywhere on Android, then that app itself will immediately be downloaded from the app store and start running, […]

This post originally published on https://gilbane.com

Categories: DITA

The Last of Us: Flash Fiction Short Stories

The Content Wrangler - Mon, 2016-05-30 15:07

By Martin Magee, special to The Content Wrangler

I’m a member of a gay men’s writer’s group called “Guywriters,” a group whose membership numbers seven. We’re very dedicated, meeting monthly, even in December and January, as well as during the pleasant summer months. The talent in this group is pretty amazing. Almost everyone has been published and all have written some beautiful stories. We’re not competitive with each other; we enjoy each other’s successes. When I first joined the group, I was so intimidated by the talent that I considered leaving the group. I quickly realized that was the reason I should stay.

Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler, whom I am friends with on social media, sometimes posts a random collection of words to Facebook with the suggestion that these words might—or might not—belong in a sentence together. He calls this challenge “Sentence Slam.” I took his idea and built upon it for my story today. Randomness somehow has a way of helping us make sense of the world. I thought I could get some ideas for stories and novels from doing this.

It wasn’t easy. Most of the sentences I created ended up being run­-on sentences, horribly clumsy, and sounding rather awkward. But I made the best effort I could to compose something interesting out of what I was given. It was fun. A bit like taking on the hardest New York Times Crossword and seeing if you could beat it.

 Victorian house at the corner of Sanchez and Noe, Noe Valley, San Francisco

Around the same time, Scott began to post photos of a street corner he lives near. Noe Valley is known for being one of the nicest and most family­-friendly parts of the city of San Francisco. The main thoroughfare is 24th Street — lined with small, fashionable boutiques, gourmet groceries, unique bistros, and coffee houses where the tech elite of the city concentrate on the screens of their MacBook Pros. The quieter, more ‘neighborhood’ sections of the area are colorfully painted Victorians, with bright flowers in drought-­friendly gardens, making walks through it quite pleasant. It’s one of the most picturesque areas of the city.

On one of these corners in Noe Valley, where Elizabeth and Sanchez streets cross, is apparently where neighborhood folk, perhaps those who are moving, or maybe those who are doing the “100 things” divestment to simplify their lives, cast off whatever possessions they no longer need, simply abandoning them at the corner. Surely there are other corners of the city where this is done, but the objects that come to rest out of the whirl of people’s lives seem to settle here for a bit longer, undisturbed. You’re allowed to contemplate the strangeness of the still lives left there by some unknown other. They linger for a bit before disappearing, either through city cleanup or perhaps someone deciding to make use of them.

 Random items spotted at the corner of Elizabeth and Sanchez, Noe Valley, San Francisco, CA

The items range from outdated computer books, banged-­up used furniture, to newish looking kitchen appliances, and attractively framed posters… some things appearing useful and interesting, other things seem like junk that nobody would want.

After Scott began posting these miscellaneous tableaux, I switched from using random words and phrases as a writing exercise to using the photographs Scott posted as inspiration. At first, when I’d check my phone during work and saw that a new photo had posted, I would dash off a super-­short flash fiction story. ‘Flash Fiction’ is described as a very short story, but there is no certain agreement on length. The story may be only a few sentences, or it can be a thousand words. There is a story (unproven) about Ernest Hemingway, that in order to win a bet, he wrote what is considered one of the smallest stories ever—just six words. It reads: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” I tried to keep the stories I wrote to just a few sentences, or even just one sentence, so I could get the story posted and go on back to work. I usually wrote them during my lunch break.

The discipline of writing as fast as I could and making something complete energizes my creative juices, forcing me to do a better job on my writing projects. It quickly began to feel like a game, and it was fun. I enjoyed writing something entertaining and funny, or dramatic and heartfelt. The freedom from commitment to a longer tale felt creatively stimulating. It was flash fiction. Short, ­short stories. The briefness of each story made it feel less scary to dive in and start. I could try things out. Experiment. I hoped that those who subscribed to Scott’s Facebook feed would enjoy them.

 Talcum powder street art, corner of Elizabeth and Sanchez, Noe Valley, San Francisco

One such photograph, of what looked like a loose paint dripping in the vague form of a human shape, was different from the others. It wasn’t a picture of an abandoned, broken blender, or a massive flat-screen television, or a pile of discarded, dog-eared books. It looked like a Picasso-­esque, childlike drawing, with curving waves coming off of the shoulders and a strange face-like set of shapes inside the figure. It looked like someone making a snow angel. It was, I suppose, the angle of the image that made it look like a very simple drawing of a person. Of course, I couldn’t turn it over and see what it looked like on the reverse side. As with all the other photographs, I thought contemplating the image would start to slow creativity. It was better to just launch into the story, going with my first instinct, taking as wild of a leap into the inspiration from the image as I could.

A picture of a dark-­skinned, heavyset woman raising her arms upward flashed into my head, so I began to write:

She wouldn’t feel sad to leave behind the world. She would miss it, though. It was far more beautiful than she or anyone else she knew realized. The spell she’d gotten from the seer on Valencia Street began to work. LaWanna reached the corner of Elizabeth and Sanchez streets when, in a short but powerful burst of light, she became ash. Scarves and streaks of vaporized human bone and blood, and worry and regret were left on the sidewalk in a pale blue chalk line.

Suddenly the thing that I try to create during my writing happened. I felt as if I was in that woman’s head—while it was happening. I imagined her, for a reason I didn’t know yet, disappearing into a huge pulse of light, her body evaporating in the heat and her energy released. It felt like a cathartic burst. She was releasing herself from her own form and from the bonds of earth. I felt as if I knew her, felt what she was feeling, walked in her body as she walked toward her unearthly fate at the corner of a neighborhood street in San Francisco.

One thing I now understand about writers of fiction is that when they create, they are as much caught up in their own story as they hope the reader will be. I picture it like a snow globe; we writers are the hand that shakes the globe and sees the snow swirl, fall, and finally settle on our creation, but we secretly enjoy setting the snow in motion.

 A dresser and some personal items left at the corner of Elizabeth and Sanchez, Now Valley, San Francisco

From that moment on, every image became important. Who had owned that dresser drawer set? What clothes had they filled it with? What did it mean to them then, and how had they lost the need for it? Who had used that camping chair, loved it until it had fallen apart, then discarded it without a thought? Whose floor had those rugs lain on? Who had once used that iron? These mysteries would nag me late at night. These objects had been in such closeness with someone, someone who had broken that bond and put them back into the world. I wanted to picture what all this meant to someone, and what it might mean for someone else.

Things remind us of memories, of lives lived, of hopes and dreams yet to be. They can call up, in an instant, that moment when your first child was born, when she took her first cry, when she was warmed in your arms and began to be soothed and quiet. Things can become invisible—just part of the background, and something you no longer notice, until you prepare to put them into a trash can or otherwise discard them. Then, you suddenly remember when your son held that plastic superhero toy while he ate cereal, that son who is now grown and has children of his own.

 Carpet and irons spotted at the corner of Elizabeth and Sanchez

Seeing the things that people discard, and imagining the story lines tied to their disposal, made me think, “what are the things that, instead of ridding ourselves of them, what things do we keep close, and why?” How do they come to have meaning and value? A wedding ring, a photograph, a religious document, a flag. Marks on a paper become a book. Paint on a canvas becomes art. Some have sentimental value; some have monetary value.

Here are a couple of examples.

In 1987, the painting “Irises” by Van Gogh became, at the time, the most expensive painting ever sold, auctioning off for $54 million dollars.

In 1889, in the last year before he died, Van Gogh painted a large number of canvases, including “Irises.” The flowers of the painting sprawl across the horizontal image, their sword­-shaped leaves swimming in a loose green and blue wall of color. The blue petals are outlined in a dark ultramarine line, the curves and falls of each flower contrasting against the bright orange calendulas further behind.

 "Irises" by Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh referred to “Irises” as “the lightning conductor for my illness,” asserting that painting it prevented him from falling into madness. Art historian and critic Robert Hughes said of Van Gogh, “Did ever an artist have a less promising start than Vincent van Gogh? People love to imagine that if only they had had the chance to see his early work, they would have recognized his talent, coddled it, saved him from neglect and suicide.”

It’s a painting, like many before it, and so many since. Brightly colored pigment on a canvas, illustrating in color what the artist saw in life. How is this painting different from all the other ones throughout history that have come before it, and those that have come afterwards?

The value of “Irises” is shown through the respect it commands in the world of aesthetics, and by the monetary price it has been able to obtain. The painting shows the talent and original vision Van Gogh brought. It’s still one of the most valuable paintings in the world. Its value, however, is what has been given to it. It’s valuable and meaningful because there’s an agreement that it is. That might have meant so much to Vincent Van Gogh, and perhaps comforted his stormy mind, had he known in his day, that eventually one of his paintings would go on to fetch one of the greatest auction prices ever recorded.

Another story comes to mind.

A number of years ago, Linda, a close friend from my hometown, called me up out of the blue and asked if I’d like to come see her. I had been so busy that I never had a chance to drive down the coast and visit her. Linda and I had been close friends since high school, and I missed her very much, so I agreed to go see her. Once I said yes, she told me it was going to be during the Bar Mitzvah ceremony for her nephew at the Botanical Gardens in Berkeley, California. I felt a bit wary. It was an important religious occasion. I didn’t know her brother’s family or the young man whose transition into adulthood was being celebrated.

The gardens themselves were breathtakingly beautiful, but I only caught a glimpse of them when I arrived at the site and then dove into conversation with my friend while enjoying the wonderfully prepared broiled salmon for the catered meal. I took my seat once the ceremony was to begin, and I waited nervously to see what would happen. Linda’s family isn’t Jewish, but her sister-­in-­law requested to raise her son in the faith, allowing him to choose if he would continue with it once he came of age.

I had expected something solemn and serious. The rabbi bounced into the room, a handsome bearded middle-aged man, wearing a blue and white tallit around his shoulders and a crocheted yarmulke. There was a happy spring to his step, and a broad smile. He shouted happily to the crowd, “This is a GREAT DAY for a Bar Mitzvah, don’t you think?” Everyone roared in agreement. There were cheers and applause. I’d never been to a religious ceremony like this before. His enthusiasm carried everyone along, and soon we were all feeling excited for the event.

When the rabbi turned my way, I saw in his arms a rolled­-up scroll with ornate wooden handles, and a beautifully embroidered cover, in deep blues and jewel tones and bright gold and silver thread. It was the Torah. The rabbi told the story of the Torah he held in his arms. That it was about two hundred years old. How during World War II it was buried in a secret place known only to a few people, and how the lone surviving member of that group came back to the hiding place after the war, removed it from the ground, and reinstalled it in a temple. He told us not to be afraid of it. “This Torah wants to be touched, and loved. It was buried in the earth for so long, it missed the loving contact of people. Please touch it.”

With that, he walked around the room, through all the seats, leaning forward to each person who reached out to feel the soft embroidered cloth, the polished handles, the history. Elderly hands, dry and wrinkled with age, reached out as well as the small hands of children and the tentative, shy hands of adults.

It surprised me that the rabbi had said that the Torah wanted to be touched. Because of my awkwardness and fear of embarrassment, when he passed me, I was too afraid to touch this holy relic, despite his friendly invitation. When he walked near, I stayed still. The rabbi turned away. I called out, “Wait!” and he swiveled backward to face me. I reached out and gently touched the cloth and then smiled to the Rabbi in thanks.

I felt tears come to my eyes. It never occurred to me how I’d feel when I touched the document. Touching the Torah, being in contact with something that had been revered, loved, cherished, hidden away, and subsequently rediscovered… I felt the many years of its long life, the awe and reverence people had given to it. I felt the people through the ages who had loved it, held onto it, and kept it safe.

I’d touched the Torah, and somehow… the Torah had touched me back.

A centuries-­old Torah—a roll of parchment painstakingly illuminated with calligraphic strokes, brilliant colors of paint and sparkling bits of gold leaf as light as a breath—it becomes so much more than this. The ancient document is, all together, the collective dreams and beliefs of men and women throughout the ages of its existence.

A canvas painted in the brilliant blue colors of irises in a garden on a spring day, by an artist who had only sold one painting in his life becomes one of the most valued pieces of art ever created.

Ultimately, the things we give meaning to are like the words we coin. Value and meaning are mutable. Sometimes old meaning falls away like a veil. Sometimes it changes over time. Sometimes we hold on to the things we find important; sometimes we toss them aside without another thought. Sometimes those things end up on a street corner, with a parting wish that they become useful in someone else’s life.

Sometimes, it’s just a streak of light blue paint left on a neighborhood sidewalk corner, glanced at for a moment, lasting maybe a few days, or at most, a few weeks, and yet it lingers in our memory longer than expected.

 Zebra full body suit spotted at the corner of Elizabeth and Sanchez

Spotted at Elizabeth and Sanchez: The Book

The stories I wrote have now been collected into a small book I am designing. The short-short stories I wrote for Scott’s photos have all together become something of their own; a brief visit into the lives of others. The book is illustrated with the pictures that Scott took when he first embarked on posting these images to Facebook. I’ve added some ones of my own that show off the beauty of the neighborhood in Noe Valley where he took them. Once the design is complete, it will join two other books I’ve created on iTunes, Amazon, and Blurb.com, available to anyone.

My writer’s group reviewed the stories. I received some wonderful comments made about them, and some useful criticism. There was interest in what I would do with them, and the members of the group wanted to read even more. I’ve tried to make each one unique, to tell a different story each time. Scott has told his followers on Facebook I’m working on this project, and his friends have said they’d like to see it when it’s done.

The photographs of the castoff items from corner of Elizabeth and Sanchez streets in San Francisco are themselves, mostly unremarkable, except for the stories I’ve attached to them. All the stories are completely made up. I have no idea who the real former owners of these things are, and most likely, never will. It’s possible someone might recognize something that was left there at the corner, and perhaps a more typical history of the objects left behind will emerge. I wonder if their former owners will be surprised at how I imagined they came to arrive there in Noe Valley, San Francisco, California. In a way, these abandoned things will go on to live new lives, the way their former owners intended.

 The Corner of Elizabeth and Sanchez

 

The post The Last of Us: Flash Fiction Short Stories appeared first on The Content Wrangler.

Categories: DITA

The 2016 Technical Communication Benchmarking Survey

The Content Wrangler - Thu, 2016-05-26 18:21

Earlier this year, The Content Wrangler surveyed over 700 technical communication professionals from around the globe to learn as much as possible about the state of industry. The results of the 2016 Technical Communication Benchmarking Survey are not scientific, but they do provide us with meaningful data points and help us spot trends. Our findings paint a picture of the current state of technical communication, especially as it relates to advanced information management practices, approaches, tools and planned innovations. It provides us with a snapshot of what the best-of-breed firms are doing today—and what they plan to do tomorrow. It also provides us anecdotal evidence of emerging trends, as well as a way to benchmark our efforts against the best efforts of others.

What did we learn from the 2016 Technical Communication Benchmarking Survey?

A lot. In the four years since our last survey, significant changes have taken place. New content types—like video documentation—are being produced more often by more companies. Adoption of advanced information development management technologies like component content management systems (CCMS), XML authoring tools, and machine translation are planned innovations for firms hoping to lower costs and connect content to customers.

Request a free copy of the 2016 Technical Communication Benchmarking Survey summary today!

 Man using mobile device

The web is the dominant delivery channel for product content

Up from 59% in 2012, 91% of firms surveyed publish their content to the web, making it the most common delivery channel for product content. While nearly every kind of product content is being pushed to the web, the mobile web is still a challenge for many technical communication departments. Only 24% of respondents publish product content to mobile- ready formats and/or mobile device apps.

Print is still alive and well, despite what some may think

Despite what some may believe, print is not dead. While print may seem obsolete in many ways, today it’s still the second most common delivery channel for product content; 49% of companies surveyed craft print deliverables. By comparison, only 11% create content on CD-ROM and 12% on DVD, a 50% drop in the four years since we ran our last benchmarking survey.

 Instruction Manual

A few of the biggest challenges facing technical communication departments

Keeping content in-sync can be challenging in the best of situations. But, when content is prepared for multiple audiences, in multiple languages, to be delivered across multiple channels, things can get tricky.

The 2016 Technical Communication Benchmarking Survey found that the primary obstacles preventing technical content development teams from ensuring content consistency across channels are:

  • lack of a unified content strategy (42%)
  • software tools designed to do the job (41%)

Departmental silos were mentioned as a major obstacle for 34% of the technical communication teams surveyed. Others blamed:

  • content consistency challenges on a lack of governance (39%)
  • an absence of collaboration (38%)

Anecdotally, there appears to be a lack of awareness of what’s possible. Of those surveyed, 23% complained that advances in technical communication content development are invisible to others across the enterprise, indicating a need to share our success stories, metrics, best practices, and approaches with others.

 Natural Language Processing

But wait, there’s more!

The 2016 Technical Communication Benchmarking Survey summary includes 8 pages of data covering topics such as:

  • Video documentation
  • Content strategy
  • Content reuse
  • Markup languages
  • Content quality
  • Terminology management
  • Multilingual content
  • Translation memory
  • Machine translation
  • Agile development
  • Innovations planned for the future
  • The most commonly used software products

A few details about the audience

The majority of survey respondents work for firms in the computer software and hardware sector (50%), followed by the financial services sector (7%), manufacturing (6%), life sciences and healthcare (6%), business services (4%), enterprise telecommunications (4%), universities and education (3%), defense and government (3%), mobile communication (2%), publishing and media (1%) and others.

Request a free copy of the 2016 Technical Communication Benchmarking Survey summary today!

The post The 2016 Technical Communication Benchmarking Survey appeared first on The Content Wrangler.

Categories: DITA

JOIN RSUITE AT SSP 2016, TABLE 7

Really Strategies - Wed, 2016-05-25 16:56

2015_RSuite-letterhead-logo.gifSchedule Demo

At SSP 2016, Table 7

 RSuite at SSP | 38th Annual Meeting | June 1-3


Schedule a demo at SSP and discover how RSuite can help you publish 50% faster than today

  • MS Word-based Authoring and Editing
  • Easy-to-use XML Editorial Tools
  • Semantic Enrichment
  • Automated Output to ePub, PDF, and more
  • Rules-based Packaging and Distribution
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Categories: DITA

About Home Automation Devices

The Content Wrangler - Wed, 2016-05-25 10:00

By Tim Steele, special to The Content Wrangler

As previously discussed, home automation is a big deal these days. There are more vendors, systems, and home automation devices than ever before. The concept of the internet of things allows products from different companies to communicate and control products from other vendors because of the standards that have been put in place in the last ten years.

In my last article, I discussed home automation different systems. Now, let’s talk about devices—because without these individual building blocks, there is no system. The types of smart devices available on the market grows exponentially, it seems, and there isn’t space in a single blog post to cover them all. So, we’ll discuss the most popular ones (and maybe just a few others).

Home Automation Devices

  • Light bulbs—There are now light bulbs which have WiFi connectivity built into the bulbs. Connected light bulbs allow you to turn lights on/off remotely, without having to mess around with expensive old school approaches like rewiring your home. To get started, remove existing standard light bulbs and replace them with smart bulbs. With the help of a smartphone or smart watch app (each vendor produces their own), you can turn on a group of lights, all set at different brightness levels, and (with some bulbs) even program them to display different colors. These “lighting scenes” can be set to turn on or off at specific times or can be triggered by such things as sundown or sunrise or your proximity to your front door. You’ll need a hub—a small device attached to your internet connection so the phone can send messages through the internet to the bulbs. And, if integrated into a system like SmartThings, the bulbs can be controlled by other devices (motion sensors, presence sensors, etc.).

     Smart Watch app

  • Light switches–I have a chandelier with tiny bulbs above my staircase. No one makes smart light bulbs of that size yet (it’s just a matter of time). No problem though. I replaced the light switch with a smart light switch. Now, the chandelier comes on automatically at sunset each day. It turns off when I settle down to watch television. It comes on automatically when anyone approaches the staircase in the middle of the night. I’ve replaced traditional light switches with smart light switches throughout my entire house.
  • Power outlets–Do you ever wonder if you’ve left the coffeemaker, iron, or curling iron on as you’re driving to work? My smart power outlets in the kitchen and bathrooms prevent me from worrying unnecessarily as they turn off automatically when I leave the house.
  • Motion sensors–These are really key in my house (I suspect it’s the same in most smart houses). Those light bulbs, switches, and outlets mentioned above can all be turned off when no one is around to use them with the help of motion sensors. Pleasantly dim lights come on automatically as I walk through the house to let the dog outside in the middle of the night. I get notified if there’s movement where I’m not expecting it while I am away–and connected cameras turn on to capture video or photos of whatever is moving, so I can see what it happening. Motion sensors also help control the temperature in the house by triggering the adjustment of the thermostat in the room where I’m watching TV (instead of simply knowing what the temperature is at the thermostat in the hallway upstairs).
  • Moisture sensors–If your washing machine breaks and water is pouring all over the place, you’ll be glad you have a smart motion sensors. I’ve set mine up to text me and to turn all the lights on in the house–and to change the color of the lights to blue (get it? Blue to represent water.). I have these at every bathtub, toilet, sink, water heater, washing machine, and dishwasher in my house. You can also get humidity sensors which will automatically turn on the fan while you’re showering (no more wet mirrors when you finish).
  • Presence sensors–These little devices can go on your keychain or in your car. Some systems (like SmartThings) allow you to use your phone as your presence sensor. That way, when I leave, the doors lock themselves, the garage door closes, and I’m notified if I’ve left any windows open (I can’t close them automatically, but I can decide whether or not to return home to close them). You can even attach one to your pet’s collar to get notified if they wander away from the house.

There are so many more smart devices that you can put in your house–everything from smart watering systems that water your grass only when it’s not already raining to alarms which replace the need for that monthly bill from your home alarm company. And there’s always more coming down the smart home pipeline!

 Smart home app on smartphone

The post About Home Automation Devices appeared first on The Content Wrangler.

Categories: DITA

What is a Capabilities System?

The Content Wrangler - Tue, 2016-05-24 20:11

Capabilities are differentiators that improve a company’s ability to compete in the marketplace. In order for them to work in an efficient way, capabilities need to be part of a system stronger than the sum of its parts, and almost impossible for competitors to copy.

Watch this video by Strategy& define to learn what capabilities system is by looking at an example of a company that has one in place: Frito-Lay. You’ll discover how Frito-Lay combines its three differentiating capabilities of direct-store delivery, continuous innovation of new products, and consumer marketing into a powerful system that is at the heart of the company’s success.

The post What is a Capabilities System? appeared first on The Content Wrangler.

Categories: DITA
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