Alan Porter

Alan Porter
Alan J. Porter is the Senior Product Marketing Manager for the OpenText Customer Experience Suite. He is a regular writer and industry speaker on various aspects of Customer Experience and Content Strategy.

Time-Based Digital Assets are now Mission Critical

video

How much video are you watching online? I’m pretty confident it’s more than last year, or the year before. It seems that every website now features video in some form or other. Video is also becoming increasingly prevalent across the various social media platforms too. There’s a good reason, studies have shown that video is more engaging than text or still imagery. A video with a well told story that provides value or entertainment (or better yet, both) is often commented on and shared. Video is everywhere in the digital world. In fact a report by Cisco suggests that this year (2017) video will account for 69% of all consumer driven traffic on the web. Having video assets has also become important for findability with YouTube now ranked as the second largest search engine, processing three billion searches a month. Video has become mission critical The rise in voice-activated applications and devices means audio is not far behind as voice driven search is rapidly growing with some estimates suggesting that 50% of search queries will be done by voice by 2020. Audio is becoming mission critical Both Video and audio can be considered as time-based digital assets, and need to be managed, tagged, and produced in a controlled workflow just like more traditional media assets such as photography. The OpenText™ Media Management (OTMM) platform is perfectly positioned to handle traditional media and provide the functionality needed to manage and deliver the growing demand for time-based media. OpenText™ Media Management now offers an optional Advanced Video Workflow that extends OTMM functionality into the editing suite specifically to meet the needs of dealing with time-based media assets in three specific areas: more detailed metadata, more control over the asset, and improved integration with preferred editing suites and workflow. OTMM now automatically pulls additional metadata from time-based assets to improve search results and asset handling. New Logging functionality means you can now add annotations and metadata over single scenes, or even single frames, or sound-bites. The meta-data selection buttons are totally configurable and can be driven by controlled language, domain knowledge terminology, or other defined terminology sets to provide intuitive tagging. Ranges of frames can also be tagged to create defined sub-clips. The editing tool integration allows frame-by-frame broadcast quality interactions, frame search, and the support of multiple audio channels all within a browser environment. One-button toggling between low-res editing streams and a hi-res preview makes the editing workflow more efficient. Once the tagging and editing work is complete, the finalized assets are sent back to OTMM for storage and retrieval from a single digital asset platform that provides the single source for all your brand-approved assets. The Advanced Video Workflow option for OpenText™ Media Management provides key video tools so your teams can provide compelling and attention-getting content.

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Digital Plants and Conveyor Belts – a Different Approach to DAM

DAM

The world’s largest museum complex is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about who are the natural users of a leading edge Digital Asset Management (DAM) system. After all isn’t Digital Asset Management all about managing your online brand assets like photography and videos so that your website and apps look consistent and only use approved imagery? Not really. As I wrote recently DAM isn’t just for pretty pictures any more, as many companies are finding new uses for the technology. However most of those new uses are still centered on managing current content. Some companies have begun to use DAM technology to leverage the value of corporate archives, but these tend to be limited to the reuse of old photographs and documents. But the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC is using the OpenText™ Media Management (OTMM) DAM platform in a whole new way; to catalog millions of plant specimens, some of which are over 300 years old. The Washington Post recently reported on this fascinating project, and the innovative conveyer belt process that has been developed to enable the team to handle the sheer volume of data they are digitizing. The specimens are pulled out of the cabinets and placed in the moving conveyor belt that automatically clicks high resolution photos at the rate of roughly one every 4 seconds. The image files are created, automatically cropped via a tool and then ingested into OTMM after a metadata tagging process. Prior to the OTMM-based digital transformation project the museum faced two major challenges: New specimens were arriving in the collection at a rate of 20,000 to 30,000 a year, and as a result the collection was growing quicker than they could catalog it. At the start of the new project it was estimated that the overall collection numbered around 5 million specimens. The traditional digitization process was too slow. It had taken 40 years to catalog the first 1.5 million specimens. The new OTMM-based project initiated by the Smithsonian’s Digital Program Office is on track to have cataloged the next 1 million objects in just eighteen months. The Natural History Museum project isn’t the only part of the Smithsonian that is using OTMM. They have 12 museums that are contributing content to the DAM and currently have millions of assets in their OTMM system and that number is increasing rapidly each day. Most or all of these images are made available to public & researchers free of cost online at the Collections Search Center site.

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OpenText WFO Video Series: Why Should Customer Experience be a top Enterprise Goal?

WFO Video Series

When faced with a choice of products, or suppliers, how to decide which one to use? Is it simply price, or like most people does your previous experience with the company or product factor into your decision? In today’s fast-paced world no one really has the marketplace to themselves anymore. New innovations quickly give rise to competitors. As a result everything is a commodity, making it ever more difficult to achieve market share based on product alone. Customer experience has become the key business differentiator. Management consultant and author Peter Drucker once wrote that “the purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer.” This may seem to be an obvious statement, but many companies traditionally focus on the first half of the statement to the detriment of the latter part. It can be argued that keeping a customer is more important than finding a new one – for a repeat customer is often an engaged customer. According to a 2015 article from McKinsey & Company, developing a customer experience strategy is now one of the top 3 initiatives for 90% of CEOs.  And as stated by analyst Brian Solis in “The 2016 State of Digital Transformation,” of 500 participating digital strategists who were responsible for digital transformation, 55% cited “evolving customer behaviors and preferences” as the primary catalyst for change. In today’s digital world the customer is not only driving the decision on when and how interactions are made, they are also demanding a more personalized experience. But simply improving individual transactions with the customer at specific points in the process is not enough: to make a real difference the customer experience should be a continuous connected journey that allows data to flow across every step of the customer lifecycle, leaving the customer with a “they really know me” feeling. One of the most commonly overlooked areas of the customer journey is post sales when the greatest value is to be obtained. A well-defined post sales process aligned with a foundational customer experience strategy can increase the customer’s lifecycle value and often deliver overall revenue multiple times that of an initial product order. The companies that are focused on delivering exceptional customer service are demonstrably winning more business and are on faster growth paths. Customer-centric brands generate more loyalty and find that their customers become their strongest brand advocates. Think about the brands and companies that you like to deal with. Shouldn’t you be delivering a similar, or even better, experience to your customers at every interaction? For a real life example of why customer experience should be a top enterprise goal, Aflac’s Jason Goodroe discusses how customer experience has been defined as one of the four key pillars of the business. Listen to Jason explain why customers, irrespective of technology or process, want to build loyal relationships with companies that provide value and trust. And don’t forget to hear how the other Video Series speakers explain why customer experience is a top enterprise goal in 2017. In all, our speakers answer eight important questions about driving awareness of the contact center within your organization and explain why this should be of interest to every contact center agent, supervisor, manager and executive. So when you have a few moments be sure to hear how our panel of experts answered all of these questions: What defines a positive customer experience? Why should customer experience be a top enterprise goal? How can the contact center be positioned as a leader in customer experience? How can the contact center align with the top priorities of executive leadership? What’s the best way to coordinate contact center goals with other business units? What performance goals resonate most with executive leadership? What other tools demonstrate contact center impact to the executive team? What are some lessons learned about reporting to the executive team? Continue the conversation by commenting on our blog posts, check out Steve Graff’s blog to read his take on the first question in the series, What defines a positive customer experience?

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Sending the Wrong Email can be an Opportunity to do the Right Thing

customer communications management

We all get them every day. Emails that we delete without reading. Yet companies invest countless hours in developing email campaigns and messaging to try and catch our attention or interest just for us to ignore them. My wife and I were discussing last night the top email subject headers that means we will automatically delete a marketing email. My wife’s top flag was anything that gave her an order to do something. Yesterday’s winner in that category was an email she received from a company that shouted “This is important information you need – Don’t Delete!” – The first thing she did? Deleted that email. My pet peeve is over friendly emails from people I’ve never met, like this example from yesterday, “Reminder – Hey Alan, did you have a chance to review my email?” My response, check the company on the email address, not someone I do business with, then hit the Delete button. Then there’s the emails from companies that you do interact with on a regular basis, but when you read it you think “How did I end up on that mailing list?” You delete it and don’t give it much thought beyond it ramping up an annoyance factor with the company that can eventually impact your overall customer experience. But great brands and customer-aware companies can use a well-defined customer communications management strategy to turn that “How did I end up on this list?” moment into a positive experience rather than a negative one. A case in point. My car. Although my family changes cars on a pretty regular basis we are pretty brand loyal. At any given time you can bet that someone in the family is driving an example from this particular brand’s line up. At the moment it’s me, and I am driving a fully tricked out version of the company’s sportiest offering. It’s the tenth example of the brand we’ve owned. So imagine my surprise to receive an email from the company that was headed “We’re sorry to see you go.” It continued along the lines that the company had heard we had sold the car and wanted to ask a few questions of our experience with the brand, and why we’d moved on. Looking out the window I could still see my car sitting on the driveway. Yep, definitely on the wrong mailing list. I deleted the note, and didn’t think any more of it. Until two days later. A follow-up email arrived from the car company apologizing for the wrong email being sent. There was a well- worded message along the lines of “we know that you still own your car, and thanks for being a loyal customer.” This was followed with a note that by way of apology a small gift was in the mail (which arrived the next day). There was also an additional follow-up that laid out my ownership of the current car, and a note that as a token of thanks for my loyalty if I headed to my local dealer within the next thirty days they would upgrade me from my 2015 model to the equivalent 2017 model at a stated lower APR rate. One mistake = good follow up + bonus gift + acknowledgement of my customer loyalty + upsell offer. That’s good customer communications management, it helps strengthen relationships, develops good customer experience, and promotes more value and revenue across the customer lifecycle. While I’m not ready to take up that trade-in offer just yet, but when it does come time to change my car again, guess which company will once again be top of my list?

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Why DAM Isn’t Just Pretty Pictures on the Web Any More

DAM webinar

Why do you purchase and implement a Digital Asset Management (DAM) platform in the first place? If you’re like me when I ran the content management team at another company, it was originally to control the flow of approved images to the company’s online presence. We were revamping the website and eCommerce platform and a key part of the project was to improve the images used, and to make sure that they were both brand and safety compliant. It didn’t take long for the word to spread that we now had a single safe source for brand approved images. Soon we were talking to other groups in the company, and even our dealer network about how they could contribute to, and access, the DAM. Instead of just storing the images selected for use on the website we were soon storing every picture from a product photo shoot, then came interest from the company archives. In the space of eighteen months we had passed one million assets and over eight-thousand users accessing them. But the most interesting part was the way that the DAM became the source for applications and use cases that we had never considered. We had developed a way to create lightweight 3D models of our products, and started storing the source files for those on the DAM too. Suddenly the DAM was the source driving Augmented Reality proof-of-concept innovations, being used to populate digital signage at dealer showrooms, as well as training, facilities planning, trade shows, coffee table art books, calendars, licensed merchandise, and more. At the point where I left the company we had recorded sixteen different use cases for the content stored in the DAM, and I’m sure there’s even more now. The thing is, I was far from alone in witnessing how a good DAM platform can be used in different. powerful ways. Since joining OpenText I’ve seen other uses, such as: Media companies who use their DAM to deliver DVD packaging and advertising banners that automatically resize and place the correct logos and text based on the intended markets and distribution channels. Drinks companies where the DAM is a central component of their high-profile sports sponsorships programs A rail company that uses the DAM to manage rail inspection videos from cameras mounted on the front of locomotives An aerospace engine company that uses its DAM to store and analyze images of parts from any engine involved in an accident So how are you using your DAM platform? Join us on Wednesday February 15th for a webinar on how to Unlock New Potential (and ROI) From Your DAM. Click here to register

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100,000 Pieces of Content a Day

content

It often feels like we are being deluged by content, we are exposed to more stories, images, video, and audio than ever before. Yet most of that content (social media aside) has been sorted, indexed, written, edited, managed, and gone through a publication process before it even gets to us, the consumer. How do those who produce the content deal the vast amounts of raw information, text, and images etc., that go to make up the stories that we see? And how do they make their publishing efficient enough to keep up with the unedited real time content streaming across the various social media platforms? These were the sort of problems facing News UK the publisher of some of the biggest and most popular British newspapers. The Times, Britain’s oldest daily national, and The Sunday Times are the world’s best-known quality newspapers. The Sun is the most read British newspaper, with more than four million readers each day. News UK also operates a number of digital channels, including Sun Bingo, Sunday Times Wine Club, and Riviera Travel. News UK receives and generates more than 100,000 new digital assets each day, and manages in excess of 25 million assets in total. The assets including text, images, pages, video, graphics, and audio needed to be captured, indexed, and quickly made available to users across the business. Their existing digital asset management system (DAM) had served the business well, but was more suited to print media, with limited options for moving towards a converged, multichannel solution. It also lacked the ability to be easily integrated to its chosen editorial system. “We need to drive a greater responsiveness for global news coverage, rapidly publishing articles that provide a consistent, rich multimedia experience for readers across all channels and publication brands,” says Simon Pumphrey, Systems Manager at News UK.” Against a backdrop of technical change, we have to ensure we remain at the forefront of how news is delivered, across all channels.” In looking for a replacement for their legacy system the new DAM solution had to be faster, easier to use, and be more cost-effective than our existing system. It should also help us ensure compliance with usage rights of the assets we use, with comprehensive tracking, audit, and reporting. We wanted a browser-based solution, based on open standards, which would be straightforward to integrate to our editorial system. OpenText™ Content Hub for Publishers (CHP) meets all of these criteria and more,” says Pumphrey. CHP has been introduced as part of a large-scale transformation project to increase collaboration across editorial teams. “The business critical deployment of OpenText CHP allows News UK to collect as many as 100,000 or more new digital assets and news feeds submitted each day by multiple journalists, photographers, and agencies into a single system. The OpenText content Analytics engine automatically tags these assets, ensuring content can be quickly found and retrieved across the various editorial desks.” Not only can the assets be easily repurposed across The Times, The Sunday Times, and The Sun, but the solution ensures the correct rights are associated with each asset, helping to mitigate the risk of digital rights infringement. “In today’s connected world, customers are choosing to engage with our newspapers across a growing number of devices and, increasingly, we need to manage the growing types of digital content to create a richer digital experience. We chose OpenText CHP as the scalability of the platform has enabled us to move from a print-centric process to one where journalists can associate multimedia content directly into different channels,” You can find more information about the News UK implementation of CHP here, and download the white paper on Content Hub strategy.

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Is Your Website a Reflection of You or Your Customers?

web content management solutions

“Hey Dad, did you have any feedback?” That text from my daughter last week was part of an ongoing discussion around the website that she was designing for a new business venture that she and a partner will be launching in a few months. It was the third iteration of the site, and this was the first version that was fully mobile friendly. My feedback was that with just a few minor tweaks, this iteration was very close to where they needed to be for the launch. It told a good story and provided the basic information their customers would be looking for. It wasn’t always the case. Early in the process of them developing a business case I asked my daughter and her business partner what they wanted the website to communicate. The immediate response was “We want it to let people know what we do.” A logical answer, but my response was something along the lines of “That’s great, but other people do what you do. What makes you special?” “We are focused on people with a particular problem area.” “Great. So think about the people who need help solving that problem. What are they going to be looking for?” As these sort of discussions continued, the website design and prototypes evolved from their description of what the new company did, to a series of short articles that addressed the potential customer’s problems, and how my daughter and her partner can help. They also looked at the list of services they were offering and decided to focus on the three where they have had the most interest. Now instead of a webpage with a shopping list of things to pick from, each solution article has information about the relevant service, with pricing and contact information. But it’s not only small businesses or start-ups that need to be switching their thinking from a website that, no matter how slick it’s presented, is little more than a digital brochure. Often these sort of “inside-out” websites end up being a reflection of the corporate structure accompanied by a list of products. Switching the mind set to a customer driven “outside-in” view can pay dividends, not only in an improved experience that can help customer’s solve their problems, but they can also have a direct impact on the company’s bottom line. I once worked on a project for a large company whose website was a perfect reflection of their corporate and business unit structure. You had to know what part of the company was responsible for a particular product to be able to find it; even the employees had a hard time figuring out where to find information. But a customer focused analysis showed that 80% of the traffic went to the website for just four things: to look up product specifications, pricing, buy spare parts, or get support. Once we rebuilt the website around making those tasks as easy as possible, traffic, leads, and online parts sales revenue all increased, and support costs decreased. Improving the customer experience is now regularly cited as a top strategic imperative for many companies, and the website is the always-on global showcase for that. Delivering a customer-driven web experience means not only changing the mind-set and the content, but also delivering a more engaging relevant and engaging experience that delivers value to the individual customer. It can rapidly become a complex process and needs the right sort of management tools to enable and support an effective web presence. OpenText™ Web Content Management (WCM) solutions are an open, flexible, and connected platform to solve the next generation of digital experience challenges faced by marketers and business managers. OpenText WCM brings together content, process, and applications to create and deliver optimized and personalized multi-channel interactions across the full customer journey.

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An Account Number by any Other Name

online customer experience

All I wanted to do was give a business some money. Yet they seemed determined to make it as difficult as possible for me to pay my bill. We had received our first invoice from them as a paper bill in the mail (how 20th century!), but as we pay all of our regular bills digitally we decided to go online and pay that way. Two steps into the website process it asked for our Account Number; which was not printed anywhere on the paper bill, nor on the covering letter. A few clicks and we managed to find our account profile online. Still nothing labeled as “Account Number” anywhere. Ok we’ll pay by check this time around just to make sure it gets there. Then we saw the following note on the payment instructions: “Please include your account number on the check.” – You mean the “Account Number” that you haven’t told us? A few more clicks around the website and we eventually found an email address to send a question about how we could find this elusive number. The response was “Oh we get asked that a lot. You just go to your account profile and combine the abbreviation from Box 3 with the number from Box 5 so the account number looks something like ABC1245.” As I ran this frustrating scenario back through my mind (after I had managed to pay the bill) it raised several Customer Experience questions: If you have customers repeatedly asking the same question about a part of your process, then that part of your process is broken. You need to fix it. And not in a way that makes it easier for you, but in a way that it makes it easier for the customer to complete their task, like giving you money on time! If there’s a vital identifying piece of information that customers need to be able to interact with your business processes, then make sure it’s included on any, and all, customer correspondence or interaction, be it physical or digital. Names are important. Think about what you call something. Don’t expect the customer to know the terms you use internally. Pick names that the customer will recognize and use it consistently. As a further example of this last point, I once worked with a company where one of the product lines was known internally by its engineering name. No-one outside the company used the term to describe that sort of product. No-one in the industry, and certainly none of the company’s customers or prospects did. But the engineering name was embedded throughout the company’s processes and even used on the website. No-one ever searched for that name and as a result it never came up in search engine results and online lead generation for that product line was almost non-existence. After a lot of discussion we eventually got the product people to agree to using the more common name on the website – i.e. the term that customers and prospects used when searching. In a week the relevant webpages started popping up in the top 10 search results. In a year the lead generation increased exponentially with a resultant growth in product revenue. The customers were also happier, and support costs dropped, because they could now find the information they needed quickly and easily. All because the name was changed to the one that the customers used.

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Media Management – A “Rosetta Stone” for Rosetta Stone

media management

The Rosetta Stone the famous tablet, found in 1799, that displayed the same text in three ancient languages: Greek, Demotic (Egyptian script), and hieroglyphics, provided the key to enable deeper understanding and more accurate translation of those languages. In doing so it gave us a broader view of the ancient world and enabled other discoveries to be put into context. Sometimes the various different aspects of a large corporation can feel like they are using different languages to describe the same thing. What we need is a digital “rosetta stone” that can help facilitate conversation around shared assets from marketing, through sales, support, finance, legal, and other lines of business. One company that has successfully addressed that issue is the company named after the aforementioned archeological find – Rosetta Stone.  Rosetta Stone provides cloud-based learning for more than 30 languages in close to 150 countries. It serves schools, businesses, governments, and millions of individual learners across the globe. It’s an often repeated truism by those of us in the content industry that every company is a publisher, and this view is reinforced by Donna Bible, the Senior Digital Asset Manager for Rosetta Stone. Everything that Rosetta Stone does starts with content, and Bible and her team manage more than a million images, videos, and audio components used by professionals across the world to develop interactive lessons. “My role is to use the right system to collect all that content, catalog it, and enable the creative services teams who make videos for our end users, as well as the product and the images within it.” “We work with our creative and legal teams to harness the most recent videos and licensed imagery,” Bible states. “Using OpenText™ Media Management, I am able to gather the latest versions and final published documents and ensure that people see something that is out to press or published on the web and approved.” Media Management enlivens creativity and productivity, according to Bible. “If you are able to harness content, relocate it and reuse it, you are at a completely different scalable level of work,” she says. “You save your creative team time and you save the legal team time from having to contest rights.” OpenText Media Management meets the company’s expanding needs while maintaining a rich collection for its growth across borders. “Having a consistent vision of retaining knowledge and content … and integrating the different departments has brought and kept a lot of people together,” Bible states. “It’s also allowed us to on-board people more easily by giving them insight … Media Management has become more than just a work tool. It’s really an archive of history for the company.” For organizations implementing digital asset management, Bible offers this advice. “At first, involve as many people as you can,” she says. “Then, when you implement, focus on one group: get that right and use it as a service model.” Results compound quickly, Bible notes. “Trust that there is a snowball effect of value you’re building. After some years, it can be very satisfying.” Check out the video and download the white paper for more on the Rosetta Stone story. Or view this on-demand webinar to learn how another Media Management customer, Monster Energy, benefited from their  asset management initiative.

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Lower the Drawbridge and let the Data Flow

customer experience

It’s not often that Game of Thrones provides a moment of insight into data exchange, but that’s what happened this week. I am just catching up with season six of the top rated HBO series; and when the “Kingslayer” Jamie Lannister walked back across a drawbridge, having failed to persuade the leader of the forces under siege in the castle to surrender, it made me think about permeable data. In my last blog post I presented the idea that rather than trying to break down and remove the invisible walls that keep core customer data siloed and isolated in different parts and layers of the organization, we should let each group keep the keys to their (data) kingdoms, and benevolently grant access to the data to other groups and departments. In the world of Game of Thrones, with its ever shifting alliances and loyalties, the one thing that remains constant is the need for information. That information is often delivered via messenger ravens, and occasionally through personal contact as the various characters meet and interact. On the face of it, Jamie Lannister’s interaction on the drawbridge may have been seen as a failure. Yet, the more I thought about it, the lowering of the drawbridge allowed some significant “permeable data” to flow between the two systems in play. Each commander shared a little about their intentions and reacted to information that the other one shared. While Lannister may not have persuaded the besieged commander to surrender, he walked away with enough information to develop a way to later end the siege with relatively minimal casualties. And the commander of the castle knew more about his opponent, his strengths, and his thinking – even if he chose not to act on that information. Once that drawbridge came down, it was inevitable that data would be exchanged. We need to lower our system drawbridges. By making the data silo walls permeable, allowing the data to flow freely to and from the different repositories, a company can make the most out of its investment in the technology being used to garner that information, and keep the kingdom’s (data) monarchs happy at the same time. Data bridges allow the flow of information. Once enabled, the company can collect a piece of data once and share between systems, in a way that respects system ownership and allows each repository to use the data in the best possible way to fulfill its own line of business needs and tasks. OpenText™ Experience Suite builds on this concept. It lets data flow between the various products in the Customer Experience Management portfolio, so vital information and assets can be connected from Digital Asset Management tools through to the Web Content Management and Optimization tools and on to Customer Communications and even the Call Center, where data around sentiment analysis can be fed back to the Web Content design team. Each product can stand alone and address the needs of a particular line of business, or be an Enterprise content single source of truth. Yet by passing data between them, with other OpenText tools, or existing enterprise business systems etc., they can be the foundation of a fully connected continuous customer experience.

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Removing the Data Barriers to get the Bigger Picture

Data barriers

Doing something over and over again and expecting a different result is EITHER practice, or insanity.  The difference is simply in how long you’re willing to wait until things start to change. Similarly, treating all customers the same and simply doing the same things over again in new channels, is equally unproductive. To successfully meet the experience expectations of today’s customer demands removing data barriers and agility in how companies leverage their customers’ data in order to deliver individualized experiences in preferred channels. This kind of agility requires connectivity and fluidity within an organization. Customer Experience takes a village It takes a collection of divisions and departments within an organization to deliver goods, services, and the desired brand experience, to customers. Similarly, customers interact with organizations via multiple touchpoints spread across multiple departments. So why would any company think a single source of data from any one department or division could provide the multi-faceted, let alone complete, picture of the customer it needs? To develop and implement a truly omnichannel and customer-centric customer experience strategy, companies need to gather insights from multiple data points to connect those experiences together. But even that is not enough. That data, all that data, also needs to be accessible by the myriad teams that contribute to delivering the customer experience for their own analysis and interpretation. Limited by data fiefdoms We’ve all heard the rhetoric of “breaking down the silos”. Many gasp and shudder at the thought of having to share the proverbial access code to the vault that contains THEIR data. Over the span of their careers employees develop areas of knowledge expertise, and maybe even fiefdoms, around particular systems and associated data. They develop a sense of ownership. The angst of now having to share their domain is brought on by many fears; What if they (the other departments) mess up my data? What if their findings contradict my own? What if …? What if …? What if …? This individual apprehension is compounded by the larger picture of company priorities and culture. Companies invest large amounts of money in existing systems, and with those systems adoption come established, good or bad, procedures and policies. Once these become intrinsic to the way a company does business they are difficult to adjust. Nobody likes change, and it isn’t realistic to expect these things to change, or as some cases may deem, disappear, overnight. But who says they have to? Permeable data silos Rather than trying to break down and remove the invisible walls that keep core customer data siloed and isolated in different parts and layers of the organization, let each group keep the keys to their (data) kingdoms, and benevolently grant access to the data to other groups and departments. By making the data silo walls permeable, allowing the data to flow freely to, and from, the different repositories, the company can make the most out of its investment in the technology being used to garner that information, and keep the kingdom’s (data) monarchs happy at the same time. By building these data bridges the flow of information from one system to the other is enabled, and subsequently encouraged. And instead of collecting the same data over and over again – a better experience for the customer already – companies can collect it once and share between systems, in a way that respects system ownership and allows each repository to use the data in the best possible way to fulfill its own line of business needs and tasks. Internal systems shouldn’t drive the Customer Experience; it should be the other way around Some might think that to solve this problem companies have to first look at the systems in place for collecting and storing the data. At some point, yes, there are likely redundant repositories that can be sunsetted once the data landscape is better understood. For a bigger, transformational impact, companies should turn to their teams and data-related activities. Understanding by whom, and how the data is used, agreeing to what it means across the organization, as well as in different teams and departments, is how the true value of data is extracted. By creating a customer-centric perspective internally around customer-related data, organizations enable the different parts of their business to consume and analyze data in a way that makes most sense for them, thus allowing them to have more insight into the customer, and therefore are better able to contribute to delivering a more customer-centric experience. Data driven companies that take a holistic view of their data, develop “data journeys” that transcend internal company borders and boundaries, and mirror their customers’ journeys, are winning the customer experience race. (This blog post was co-authored with Cathy McKnight of the Digital Clarity Group).

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Empathy Resonates in Chicago at the DX Summit

empathy

Empathy – If there was one word I heard more than any other at the recent DX Summit in Chicago, it was this one. Not something I expected at, what on the surface, appeared to be a technology conference. The Digital Experience Summit billed itself as the place to discover the strategies, technologies, and thought leadership that deliver game changing digital experiences. The Digital Experience showcase area included booths and displays from many leading companies with a range of Customer Experience solutions, including OpenText highlighting our Customer Experience Suite. Why in this technology-driven environment was such an emotional word ‘Empathy’ so prevalent? What do we mean by empathy? The dictionary defines it as the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. As many of the speakers at the conference pointed out, in order to provide an exceptional customer experience you need to understand your customer, their needs, and the context within which they operate. In short, it doesn’t matter what technology you employ to manage and deliver your customer experience if you don’t also have a degree of empathy – without it you will never fully engage the customer. Understanding the need for empathy is a definite step in developing a level of Customer Experience Maturity, and it was one aspect, among many, that was discussed in our own conference session on “The Redefined Customer Journey.” We had a great turnout for the session with a standing room only crowd as we presented many of the ideas and concepts covered in some of the previous blog posts around the idea of the Continuous Connected Customer Journey. As part of the session we also introduced the idea of a Customer Experience Maturity Model, that will be the subject of an upcoming white paper, and were delighted to see many of the session attendees participate in a short interactive questionnaire as part of the exercise. Thanks to everyone who attended the session, or visited the OpenText booth where we had some great conversations and were energized by the number of companies who are treating the delivery of an exceptional customer experience as a strategic goal.

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Measuring the Redefined Customer Journey

redefined customer journey

“You can’t manage it if you don’t measure it,” has been a business cliché for decades. It’s not a sentiment everyone agrees with, as not everything worthwhile can be measured; but measurements can provide useful insights to trends and behavior patterns. So how does measurement (or lack of it) relate to the redefined customer journey I’ve been blogging about over the last few months? So far we’ve looked at four different aspects of the customer journey: the customer perspective, company activities, departments, and the systems involved. The final level examines the means to measure and manage the return on the investment in a continuous customer engagement strategy by linking various key performance indicator (KPI) metrics to different stages of the engagement. Typical measurements used in the various stages of the customer journey include KPIs such as: Net Promoter Score: NPS is calculated based on responses to a single question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague? The scoring for this answer is most often based on a 0 to 10 scale Revenue: The income that a business has from its normal business activities, usually from the sale of goods and services to customers Total Cost of Ownership: TCO is usually a summation of the total cost of acquisition and operating costs plus any costs related to replacement or upgrades to a product at the end of its useful life Return Rate: Usually expressed as a percentage of the number of products sold that are returned Call Resolution Time: Within a support group, this measures the elapsed time between a customer reporting a problem and the issue being reported as being resolved. Most support groups have target resolution times to meet, and the duration of those target may vary depending on the customer’s status Churn: Measures the proportion of contractual customers or subscribers who leave a supplier during a given time period. It is a possible indicator of customer dissatisfaction or issues with the overall customer experience Likes / Impressions: Usually a collection of Web and Social Media metrics such as page views, followers, and the number of posts that receive comments, likes, or are shared online. All of which contribute to an overall Brand Equity, or a measure of how the overall brand, its promise, products, and experience are perceived This is not an exhaustive list above, you may be using other ways to measure and manage customer interactions. Yet whatever measurements are used they tend to be the indicator of success (or failure) for individual operational departments or groups, and rarely, if ever, looked at in a holistic way to provide and overall measurement of customer satisfaction. It’s possible that you could be scoring highly in specific categories, yet still deliver a poor overall customer experience due to a disconnected journey. By looking at customer related metrics as part of an overall ecosystem rather than separate KPIs it allows you to develop a clearer picture of a customer’s overall journey and their lifecycle value.

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Learning a CX Lesson While Leaving Las Vegas

CX lesson

It’s amazing what you can learn in the back of a cab in Las Vegas. On my ride back to the airport after speaking at the recent LavaCon Conference on Digital Strategies the cab driver and I discussed all sorts of topics from robotics, and artificial intelligence, how our brains adapt and learn, to the life and times of Marilyn Monroe (the latter being the subject of a new musical the driver had written and was hoping to get produced in the next year.) But perhaps the most interesting learning moment was the one when we arrived at the airport and the cab’s credit card machine suddenly lost its connection and stopped working. “Don’t worry,” said my new best friend, “we have a process for when that happens. I can just call it in.” Well I’m glad that I’d left my hotel a little earlier than originally planned and I wasn’t in a rush to catch my flight. The first step in this process was for the driver to get out of the cab and look at the 1-800 phone number painted on the side of it, so he could call in. There was nothing inside the cab with the central booking number on it. Why would there be, if you’re in the cab, you’ve already booked a ride, why would you need the number? Unless you’re the driver with a credit card processing problem. Once back in the cab the driver reached central booking. “This is cab # 1234 my credit card machine is down I’m at the airport and I need to run a passenger’s card.” “OK, let me pass you on to the people that can do that.” <click… wait..click> “Hello, how can I help you?” “This is cab # 1234 my credit card machine is down I need to run a passenger’s card.” <click…. wait … click>> “Hello, how can I help you?” “This is cab # 1234 my credit card machine is down I need to run a passenger’s card.” “Not another ….. one. Geez, what are you idiots doing out there?” At which point, thanks to the driver rebooting the terminal a few times during the conversation, the machine came back online and I paid. So apart from the fact that as the customer I was hearing the whole conversation, including the colorful language, what got me was the fact that the driver was passed from department to department having to repeat the same information for each new agent. As for the “we have a process for that,” they apparently didn’t, or at least not one that was accessible, well documented, or efficient. And if any process needed to be efficient it is one for a cab passenger at the airport being able to pay quickly and easily, as the chances are that in most cases they are in something of a rush. Clearly context and customer needs hadn’t been considered. Back in June I blogged about how employees are customers too and that you should give them the same digital experience. The incident in the cab made me realize that there’s another aspect to that viewpoint. What about the systems that employees have to use when they are interfacing with a customer? How much will the customer judge their potential on-going experience with you based on how easy (or not) it is for your employees, agents, etc. to complete their tasks. Not every aspect of customer experience is a direct interaction; often it’s an observation rather than a transaction.

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OpenText Experience Suite Adds Functionality to Support the Customer Lifecycle

Experience Suite

The latest release of OpenText™ Experience Suite tackles the challenges of digital transformation to deliver a continuous real and effective digital customer lifecycle. OpenText is helping organizations to orchestrate data, media, interactions and transactions across a digital enterprise. The complexity of managing a consistent brand presence across media, languages, cultural expectations and governmental regulations requires a platform built for pervasive connectivity and new ways of interacting that go beyond a simple point and click. Experience Suite helps business leaders harmonize customer-centric technology applications across every department in the organization, whether the organization’s first priority is to get a handle on all of the rich media (video, audio, print, imagery, etc.) or to streamline its communications, invoices, or web presence. Experience Suite serves as a single platform of choice for delivering Continuous Customer Engagement. This market-leading set of capabilities addresses critical digital transformation initiatives within the realm of the customer experience and is comprised of leading applications from market categories in Customer Communications Management, Digital Asset Management, Marketing Optimization, Voice of the Customer, Web Content Management, and Workforce Optimization along with architecture to deeply integrate into the larger OpenText Enterprise Information Management (EIM) platform. Consider the need for a company to launch and manage a campaign across multiple markets and different customer personas. With Experience Suite you can connect our industry leading Digital Asset Management platform to the Web Content Management and Optimization capabilities to design, test, optimize, and deliver the right content with the right message – all with brand approved imagery that ensures that the right message is being delivered to the right customers in a way that resonates with their needs and results in higher rates of engagement. Once a customer has executed the call to action from a campaign (such as clicking a link to request more information) their data can be passed to the Customer Communications Management system where responses and on-going communications can be delivered in a way that suits the customers’ needs from print, to text, email, etc. The communications can be designed to add value to the ongoing exchange, or even be interactive to promote further engagement through to purchase and beyond. As customers continue their ownership, use of product call center optimization and voice of the customer tools within the Experience Suite portfolio can track customer sentiment, and feedback to various parts of the company any need for changes in the overall customer experience. OpenText Experience Suite includes: Digital Asset Management with OpenText™ Media Management Web Content Management with OpenText™ TeamSite Customer Communications Management with OpenText™ Exstream + Communications Center Enterprise Call Center Workforce Optimization with OpenText™ Qfiniti Voice of the Customer analysis with OpenText™ Explore With the Experience Suite portfolio of tools it is possible to deliver a fully connected continuous customer experience that drives increased engagement and additional revenue.

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Developing a Culture of Assumption at 200mph

mapping customer journeys

Last weekend I attended the United States Grand Prix Formula One race at the magnificent Circuit of the Americas facility just outside Austin, Texas and had a fantastic time. It was the third time I’d been to an F1 race at the track and it’s always been a great experience. This year there was a record crowd of just over 269,000 people in attendance. I was also lucky enough to attend the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 race at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier in the year. They too had a record crowd of around 300,000 at the event, and it was also a great experience.  In both cases the facilities and promoters put on an exceptional show. With crowds that size there was inevitably a lot of first time attendees and thinking back I noticed many instances of regular race goers having to explain how things worked to other people. Things like how the shuttle bus service worked, how to identify drivers and cars, or the nuances of pit-stop strategies. It occurred to me that when you put on an event on a regular basis, you can easily develop an underlying culture of assumption that people just know how things are organized. The same could be said for providing content on a regular basis too. In the periodical publishing industry there is an axiom that any given issue of a magazine is someone’s first issue and that things should be laid out and presented accordingly. I believe the same guideline should be applied to any event where you are interacting with your customers, be it in person or online. Ever been to a trade show or conference vendor hall and had to ask at a booth “So what is it you do?”  Shouldn’t that be obvious from the branding, and booth copy? Again it’s a culture of assumption in play. How about your website or mobile applications, your call center? Do they reflect a culture of assumption? Any given interaction with your company could be someone’s first, so provide them with the information they need for a productive experience. Spell things out. Communicate the basics clearly and use good design to make the first journey intuitive. Help new prospects and customers get the answers they need easily. You also need to provide alternate paths for those repeat interactions where customers already have some product knowledge or experience of how your processes flow. It’s a delicate balancing act to cater for the new customer without irritating the repeat visitor, but it’s one that needs to be addressed. When developing and mapping customer journeys don’t just talk to your existing customers, talk to your sales prospects, or better yet have someone who has no experience of your company and knows nothing about you work their way through the various channels you use to tell your story. Don’t let your new customers be the confused race fan looking for the right shuttle bus, help them get to the track in the quickest and easiest way possible, and they may end up being first in line to buy a ticket for next year’s event.

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The Redefined Customer Journey – Remove System Friction

redefined customer journey

The customer journey is being redefined in the digital age from a linear process to an ongoing loop of BUY then OWN with the companies you choose to deal with becoming more and more engaged in every part of the cycle. So far in previous posts I’ve discussed what that on-going loop looks like from a customer perspective and how the loop model aligns the customer’s activities to those of the organization, and which departments need to work together to deliver the continuous connected experience. As we continue to dig deeper into the journey map the fourth layer (above) connects the departmental level activity to the typical enterprise systems that record, drive, and promote the various aspects of the customer’s journey. These processes and systems have to interact. Technology bridges need to be established to allow data to flow between them to ensure a consistent experience and to maintain a relevant, valued engagement. The platforms in use must promote a sufficient degree of interoperability that allows the multiple interactions to work together. But unfortunately the truth is that they rarely do. How many times have you transitioned from trying to do something on a website, had to call a help desk to get your goal completed and they already know your account details and what you want to accomplish? Rarely, if ever. It shouldn’t be that way. I recently moved house and needed to change my address on various accounts. Simple I thought; just go on the various companies’ websites, open my profile, and edit the details. In most cases that worked, but in a few cases I had additional questions and needed to make a call. With one credit card company I had a question about why my statements had stopped being delivered. The call went something like this: Automated System: Please state your name. Automated System: Say or input your account number. Automated system: What’s your account safeword?  (Note not the account password, but a separate “safeword” I set up when I opened the account years ago and have never needed to use since – of course I had no idea what it was). Me: I have no idea. The Automated System passed me on to a Call Center employee. Call center: How can I help you? Me: I need to change my address and I have a question about my statements. Call center: What’s your account safeword? Me: I have no idea. Call center: I have to pass you on to our security team. Wait while call is transferred. Security team: How can I help you? Me: I need to change my address and I have a question about my statements. Security team: What’s your account safeword? Me: I have no idea, that’s why I was passed to you. Security: OK I can help you with that. What’s your name and account number? (Information I had keyed in the automated system at the start of the call and which the first call center person had). After some back and forth we eventually got the “safeword” thing sorted out. Security: I’ll hand you back to the customer service so they can set up your payment plan? Me: Sorry? What payment plan? I just need to change my address and I have a question about my statements. Security: Oh. Hang on. Wait while call is transferred. – Get a different customer service rep. Customer service: How can I help you? Me: I need to change my address and I have a question about my statements. Call center: What’s your account safeword? Me: You have got to be kidding me! To cut a very long story short I eventually got my address changed and asked about my statements not getting delivered. You guessed it, I got transferred yet again to a different department and went through the same run around. It turned out that when the account hit zero balance they stop sending statements. When I pointed out that it might be nice if they sent the account holder an email to let them know about that policy, or put something on the statements themselves, or even their website; I received a “oh that’s a good idea” response. An idea I doubt will get passed on as I’m sure billing and the website content are yet two more siloed operations. Ideally silos between systems such as the ones I encountered need to be broken down, but as a minimum they should be bridged by data sets that can be easily transferred. Such data sets should reflect the information to support the customer at any given point in their journey and grow incrementally in detail as the customer progresses through their series of interactions with the company. Ideally at no point should a customer have to provide information that they have already supplied earlier in the process. It’s all about removing the friction from the process. The processes and systems you employ shouldn’t define the customer experience, they should support it.

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Do You Know What You Don’t Know About Your Content?

content management

How can you read 174 Newspapers a day? Seems like an impossible task, yet according to one study that is the print equivalent of how much information we are exposed to each day across all media, both traditional and digital. So how can the actual news and information publishers compete and make their content stand out among such a data overload?  In previous posts I discussed the driving forces behind the changes in the publishing industry and how taking a content first hub based approach is the best strategy for underpinning the digital transformation needed to address the changing market. But what about the content itself? Placing content at the center of the new business model, it becomes possible to move towards an iterative workflow across the organization, providing a way to address the challenges of digital transformation by controlling, enhancing, tracking, and leveraging assets that can be delivered across multiple channels and platforms. However any content-centric architecture also raises several issues that must be addressed when considering what approach to take and what technology solutions to adopt. You need to know what you don’t know about your content so you can produce, manage, and distribute the most informative content via the right channels where it can deliver the most value. The following represents the most common content-related issue statements: Don’t know where all the content has come from: With today’s proliferation of information sources that lead to assets being copied and used without attached attribution, it is often difficult to track where an asset originated. Don’t know what content we have: It is not unusual for organizations to have digital asset management systems with as many as one million assets stored. In the news and information industry, this may be tens of millions, with daily uploads in the hundreds of thousands. Don’t know where all the content has gone: With a large number of assets, it is difficult to track what content has been used where, and what content assets are related to each other. When an asset is updated, it can also be costly and time consuming to ensure that out of date assets are replaced if needed. Don’t know what we have the rights to use or the cost of using it: With licensed imagery, and image and news wire subscription services, an organization needs to keep track of what it has already purchased the rights for, where they can be used, and how that relates to the costs of those subscriptions. Don’t know how to best leverage our content assets across platforms: In today’s multi-channel model, assets can be used multiple times across different delivery platforms. Often, they can be reused as-is, but sometimes they need editing, resizing, or combining to meet the needs of particular audiences and devices. It is essential to be able to track such reuse and the relationship between original and edited assets. The use of assets in external platforms could also be considered a potential additional revenue stream and as such, need to be tracked. Don’t know if we are allowed to use it or who we owe money to: Where assets are obtained from external services not covered by existing licensing or subscription services, it is essential that news and information services ensure that they have the rights to use those assets, and if a usage payment is due, be able to identify who owns that asset and the costs of using it. All of these “don’t knows” can be addressed with the OpenText™ Content Hub for Publishers platform. OpenText™ Content Hub for Publishers Content Hub for Publishers (CHP) is the platform for the receipt, enrichment, creation, packaging, delivery, archiving and syndication of all forms of publishable content. The platform is designed to handle the large volumes of content that newsrooms across the world are exposed to on a daily basis, and efficiently manages the repackaging and distribution of that content to multiple publishing channels, such as web, print, mobile and tablet.

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Luke Skywalker – Content Jedi or Joker?

Content

Mark Hamill is a good guy. I’ve been lucky enough to meet him on a couple of occasions in the past, and was looking forward to his closing keynote at the recent Content Marketing World conference in Cleveland. But the keynote address from the man best known for playing the hero of the Star Wars movies never materialized, instead Mark sat down for a Q&A session with Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi that proved to be both highly entertaining and thought provoking. Hamill endeared himself to the audience straight away by referencing a blog post from content marketer Michael Brenner, which despite its provocative title sets out a coherent thesis on the connections between the hero’s journey that informs the Star Wars mythos and storytelling in marketing. And it was to storytelling that Hammill returned to several times during his conversation by reinforcing that the most effective form of communication, the one that we are all hardwired to understand, is storytelling. The basics of effective storytelling is key not just to marketing, but to all business communications. While “Luke Skywalker” was entertaining, it was another guest earlier in the day that proved to be the inspiration of the conference. When comedian Michael Jr. was introduced no-one really knew what to expect. His brand of observational stand-up humor soon had everyone laughing, not an easy thing to achieve on the last morning of an intensive conference, but it was his asides about how you tackle challenges that inspired. In particular he outlined the idea that in life and professionally, it’s not so much about what we do, it’s about why we do it. The ‘what’ can change many times (it’s the tactical aspect), but the ‘why’ (the strategy) should remain the constant. The same applies to any business transaction, and communication. What we do won’t matter and won’t achieve success unless we know why we are doing it. On the flight home after the conference I thought again about that last day. I’ve been to innumerable conferences in my career, and enjoyed most of them, I’ve listened to some great speakers, even some brilliant ones, deliver a wide variety of keynotes, but they all tended to be speakers that you would expect for any given conference topic. Yet here at a marketing conference was a comedian and a movie actor providing some of the most powerful insights, and judging by the Twitter stream for the conference hashtag, the most memorable moments. It made me think, how are we delivering our story? Are we using the usual line-up of experts and influencers? Maybe it’s good to consider bringing fresh eyes and voices that create as powerful an impact as a Jedi Knight and a joker did for me that week in Cleveland.

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Five Factors That Are Driving the Changing Publishing Landscape

changing publishing landscape

From scrolls to print, from hardback to paperbacks, from broadsheets to tabloids, and from print to digital, the world of publishing has always been one of change. What makes the current landscape different is the sheer rate of change. This time it’s not only the delivery model that’s changing, and changing fast, it’s also the combination of new technologies and the demand for information consumed across a variety of different media. While traditional print markets are at last showing slow recovery in some markets the demand for information via digital sources continue to grow (although it could be argued that this growth is slowing down), while other media, such as video and audio continue to gain in popularity. From my perspective I see five primary influences that are driving this change in the publishing landscape: Channel growth: The move from having a single delivery channel, i.e. print, to multiple digital mobile channels on the web and mobile is moving news and information delivery from a traditional, single stream publishing model towards a model closer to broadcasting, with subsequent pressures to create and deliver differentiated content for each channel while maintaining the core integrity and facts of the information being delivered. Speed of updates: It used to be sufficient to publish on a regular pre-determined cadence, be it quarterly, monthly, or weekly in the case of magazines; or weekly, daily, or in selected editions (morning, lunch, evening, and late) for newspapers. Today, a large proportion of the population gets its first notification of a newsworthy event via social media and expects updates to be in real time as events unfold. To compete with this, news organizations must deliver their own content via social media and back it up with deeper analysis via news websites and more traditional channels that take longer to deliver. Changing business model: The newspaper industry has traditionally been funded by revenue streams from print advertising, i.e. selling physical space alongside the content. In this scenario the content is secondary to the advertising, although it could be argued that good content drives up circulation, which allows the publication to charge higher rates for the associated space. In the digital world, while it is possible to sell advertising space, it is at lower price points and less effective than in print. As a result, advertising revenues have dropped significantly and news and information providers are looking at other revenue streams, such as leveraging their content through paywalls, and syndication. To date, no new single business model has emerged as the new baseline. Easy access to different media types: While print was once the predominate media for the dissemination and consumption of news and information, it is now just one of a number of choices. With the advent of digital mobile devices, most consumers now have ready and instant access to content in textual, visual (graphics and video), and audio format. While print is never likely to disappear completely, it is now supplemented by the steady growth of other media types. Impact of technology companies: The majority of digital advertising revenue is generated by five technology companies, four of which, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Twitter include news content. The impact of these companies goes beyond such financial considerations, as more of them onboard editorial staff and start to change the way that news is delivered and tracked through a combination of more personalized storytelling techniques and trending topics. Digital transformation is key to survival in the publishing industry. However, any digital efforts must not only address the process of delivery, they must also address the new paradigm where content becomes the hub of the business model. It is no longer sufficient just to automate the original print process model using technology, it is now essential to leverage content assets to deliver compelling and engaging stories that can be accessed from any platform, from print to digital, to mobile, to social, at any time.

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