It’s Time for a Content Design Revolution

Many organizations strive to deliver personalized content that provides their internal and extended workforce with the right content, in the right format, at the right time. 
Leslie Farinella

Leslie Farinella

Chief Strategy Officer

Yet, most are frustrated with the results.

When organizations come to us for help, we soon discover that the frustration isn’t a result of their current technologies (LMS, LXP, etc.) — the issue is with their content. Content teams are still creating single-use content trapped in a single format, but somehow expecting different results. But feeding a one-size-fits-all content into a recommendation engine or inserting it into a training path won’t deliver a personalized experience.

To truly personalize content at scale, organizations must revolutionize their approach to content design.

scaling content

When setting out to revolutionize your content, it’s best to focus on your proprietary content — the content that is specific to your business that you can’t buy off the shelf and must create and maintain yourself. This content drives your strategy — the ability to serve your customers, train your team members, and differentiate your organization from your competitors — and is crucial to your success. This proprietary content is one of your most valuable business assets, but it is also the content organizations struggle to keep up with the most.

This realization is pushing many organizations to reimage and revolutionize how they design and develop content, which is being driven by three key imperatives:

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1. Keep pace with change

McKinsey & Company says, “the ability of the workforce to learn new skills, model new behaviors, and adapt continuously is key to sustained success.” Yet, content teams still waste hours and hours each day looking for content to support the work they need to do. The ability to provide quick access to information and drive continuous learning will be a key competitive advantage in the marketplace.

2. Support learning in the flow of work

The time between learning something new and applying it to your work continues to decrease — many times, learning and applying can happen within minutes of each other. This requires us to rethink how we deliver learning content — people need access to just what they need, when and where they need it. The ability to deliver personalized content at scale will be critical to success.

3. Design content to be machine readable

Forrester has stated “that by 2027, machines will be the biggest consumer of content.” Machines will be the intermediary between content and people by searching, filtering, and pushing information to your workforce when and where they need it. Yet most content is trapped in formats that are difficult for machines to read and lack the metadata required to make smart search and filter decisions. Content must be created in a flexible format like XML and tagged with useful metadata.

Organizations that can deliver the right content, to the right people, in the right format, and the right place and time will have a distinct competitive advantage.

Organizations must provide more choices that drive a wider range of experiences, each of which is  targeted to meet the specific needs of the intended audience and individual. Managing all these additional demands requires a new level of content strategy and management that will allow content to adapt to each unique experience.

Allina Health has been a customer of Xyleme since 2014. Speeding up content production was a key factor for their organization. For Allina Health to make that change, they had to reimagine their content.
With over 11 hospitals and more than one hundred clinics in Minnesota and Wisconsin, this was not an easy feat.
Allina needed to find a way to provide the same content to each of their audiences, while also adapting it to unique locations and roles.
“With Allina Health, we saw that by going to a more modular format for their content, they were able to significantly reduce their development time, while expanding their experience 2-3x.”
Leslie Farinella, Chief Strategy Officer

“Old models cannot deliver this sort of (personalized) learning experience at scale — the frameworks, content formats and modalities companies use are not designed to do this. And while organizations recognize the importance of a strong and engaging learner experience, many struggle because their content strategy has not kept pace, and they do not have the technology to deliver on their promises.” – Brandon Hall

We can’t get from here to there with today’s content practices. In order to drive workforce learning at speed & scale, we must revolutionize how we create content. 

  1. Content must be accessible in many places — think omnichannel distribution, storing content in a single repository that will allow us to syndicate (or broadcast) it out to many different places and still ensure everyone is accessing the latest version.
  2. Content must be tailored — content is more meaningful when it is personalized by role, region, skill, or product.
  3. Content must be flexible — content of the future is more fluid and must be able to morph from one format into many formats, such as a PDF, PPT, eLearning, fed to other applications, or served up by virtual assistants so it can be delivered when, where and how people need it.
Mix & Match Content Components

In the future content will be more fluid — no longer trapped into a single use or single format. Instead, content will be written in format-agnostic components that can be mixed and matched to meet a wide variety of needs

We can learn a lot from marketing when it comes to content fluidity. Marketing has continued to evolve faster and faster while being able to personalize content for websites, articles, core messaging and more. Marketing has taken the time to understand their existing content as well as people’s profiles and preferences, and build content strategies that allow them to easily adapt content to quickly deliver personalized solutions across a wide variety of channels. 

Marketing has leveraged technology and a created a digital content strategy to automate, manage, and distribute content in discrete components. 

streamlined content reuse and maintenance | xyleme ccms

A relatable way to think about content components is to view them as building blocks that can be mixed and matched to create a wide variety of experiences. A content component can be an introduction, objectives, procedures, concepts, activities, discussions, etc. These components can be shown or hidden based on what is needed for different audiences, regions, and roles.

The real secret is to ‘link, don’t copy’ — which gives organizations the ability to quickly update a component everywhere it is used. When components are linked together instead of copied and pasted, when update is made, the components are updated everywhere they are used, allowing teams to reuse components in many different personalized outputs without creating a lot of maintenance overhead. This helps organizations ensure each user is always reading the most updated and accurate version.  

link don't copy | xyleme ccms
In order to achieve the speed and scale that is necessary to succeed, we need to rethink how we design and deliver content. Content must become more flexible so it can be personalized based on what a person needs to know and how they are going to consume it.
This type of flexibility is only possible if we start writing our content in a more flexible format, storing it in a central repository, and providing a way to embed content when and where people need it. 
A centralized platform, such as a CCMS, enables organizations to deliver the right content, in the right format, at the right place & time. It’s time to join the content revolution and begin to truly rethink the way your organization creates content.
Ready to get started? Schedule a free consultation with one of our content strategy experts today.
About Leslie Farinella

About Leslie Farinella

Leslie Farinella has more than 15 years of experience as a training strategy and design consultant, working with such organizations as GE, Citigroup, Johnson & Johnson, and Nielsen. With a background in engineering and an advanced degree in Curriculum and Instruction, she helps organizations re-imagine their content management strategy to optimize efficiency through the use of innovative techniques and technologies. Leslie’s expertise in business process change management, information architecture and teaching strategy helps Xyleme customers succeed on their journeys to high performance content.

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