The landscape for content publishers keeps changing, which is why it's important to have a content management system that can evolve as quickly as the landscape. In a recent webinar on identifying the right CMS, Melissa Webster, vice president of content and digital media technologies at the research firm International Data Corporation (IDC), highlighted six key trends currently shaping the digital landscape.
Rising Expectations for Content
You probably know this from your own personal online visits: We expect a lot from content publishers today, and the margin for error is low. "The last great experience someone had online now sets the bar higher for every subsequent experience," Webster says. "It doesn't really matter who provided that last great experience. It begins to be an expectation that's broadly shared."
That means organizations need a platform that will allow for continual innovation to improve customer experiences, connecting every moment of interaction. This cycle begins as a visitor explores your content for the first time, ideally continues with a purchase that transforms the visitor into a customer, and becomes an infinite loop of loyalty.
"We continue to see tremendous pressure in organizations to accelerate cycle times and reduce time to market," Webster says. "Marketing continues to be under pressure—without rising budgets."
The ability to deliver information online also complicates the picture when there are multiple audiences to serve. You may have external audiences that need to be segmented and receive personalized content. You may also need to tailor experiences for vendors, partners and internal readers. IDC conducts regular surveys of digital experience managers at various companies. "Organizations tell us a great customer experience starts with embracing the needs of all their stakeholders," Webster says.
A Growing Number of Channels and Devices
Ten or 15 years ago, most companies just had to deliver a great web experience. That's no longer true.
"It's not just web or mobile or social—today, it's also all kinds of new and emerging Internet of things devices," Webster says. "Looking at the number of channels, we just keep adding, we never really let anything go."
For the first time, she says, respondents in a recent IDC survey were more concerned about social channels than about the web. Then, of course, there are email campaigns, forums, messaging apps and other ways to stay connected with an audience. Each channel or device becomes differentiated not just technically, but with the tone of the content itself. You wouldn't talk to Facebook, for example, the same way you engage with Twitter, Instagram and other channels.
Organizations tell IDC that the cost of supporting each new channel is prohibitive. "We believe that's certainly the case if you don't have a solid platform," she says.
The Advent of Personalization
"Personalization is becoming a big topic," Webster says. At the very least, this means localizing the experience according to geography and translating into the predominant language across different countries. But personalization could go much deeper than that. It may also entail serving particular products depending on the market context, or contextualizing content based on time of day or demographics. Then there's the desire to reach audiences one-on-one, customizing the experience based on preferences or previous interactions. Brightspot, for example, supports custom experiences with its audience segmentation feature, which you can see in action here.
Emergence of Artificial Intelligence
All of these demands—a top-notch customer experience, personalized and relevant, delivered seamlessly across several channels—present a strain for publishers.
"Organizations are spending more on content creation—we're seeing those expenditures are up 23%," Webster says. "Nevertheless, they still can't keep up. This means they need better tools to plan, schedule and execute on their content investments."
AI is becoming one of these tools, playing a role in everything from managing assets to optimizing content to generating versions of stories for different devices.
Proliferating Genres for Digital Experiences
New content types including virtual reality, augmented reality, voice-activated programs for devices such as Amazon's Alexa, and 360-degree video pose both opportunities and challenges for many companies. Webster sees e-commerce, education, entertainment and wayfinding as the most common use cases for AR and VR to start, while voice is becoming more ubiquitous, as well.
"These developments highlight the need for organizations to be ready and agile in support of new kinds of digital experiences that emerge and become part of our growing user expectations," she says.