What is « Smart Content »?
Smart Content, also referred to as Intelligent Content, has been a growing trend in the content-rich industries. The fact that many prominent publishers, including such market leaders as Elsevier, are making smart content the cornerstone of their business strategy shows that smart content is here to stay. As a CEO of a prominent publishing house eloquently put, « there will be companies that get smart content, and the others will die ».
The term « smart content » is a marketing concept, which comes after the products behind it have been successfully adopted by the market, although there still remains much work to be done. Its purpose is to embody the technological evolution that has been taking place. However, like other successful but vague marketing concepts (e.g., Web 2.0), it makes intuitive sense but needs further clarification. The cornerstone of the smart content phenomenon seems to be a greater degree of structure, formalism, and optimization infused into the various processes of the content lifecycle. However, it would be an insult to the content to imply that it is not already intelligent to some degree. Thus, a more accurate term for the ongoing progress would be Smarter Content.
How to make content smarter?
Since smart content principles affect most aspects of the content lifecycle, probably the largest challenge in making content smarter is to choose what part of the lifecycle to focus on first. The optimal technological solution will clearly depend on that decision. In an ideal scenario, a detailed comparison of strategic value and ROI for the various possibilities would need to be carried out. For this to happen, however, organizations need to gain an in-depth understanding of the technological solutions, in order to find out the amount of the potential investment as well as the degree of the potential return. This, in itself, is a major undertaking, given the complexity of both the content lifecycle and the smart content technology.
In such a situation, it is important to make small steps in each promissing direction in order to obtain accurate ROI estimates. This means rapid prototyping and small-scale pilots. It also helps a lot, when relevant, to start from the user interface, in order to get feedback and buy-in from all the stakeholders as soon as possible.
From that point of view, a new product from Microsoft called PivotViewer offers a good opportunity. PivotViewer is a « smarter » way to navigate and discover content that is visually appealing, technologically innovative, easy to integrate, and free. It also allows to quickly prototype and visualize various behind-the-scenes « smart » improvements to the content processing workflow.
Intelligent Content 2011
I will present PivotViewer as well as Mondeca‘s smarter content technology at the Intelligent Content 2011 conference, where I will talk about improving content contextualization, personalization, and discovery.