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Governance Issues in Content Management

  |  January 12, 2001   |  Comments

Your content matters. Your marketing materials -- from online catalogs to web copy and graphics -- are critical for establishing corporate brand and boosting retention rates. Something so important needs to be managed efficiently -- and cost-effectively.

Your content matters. The materials used in an online sales and marketing program -- from online catalogs to web-page copy and graphics -- are absolutely critical for personalizing your marketing efforts, establishing corporate brand, and increasing retention rates. Something so important needs to be managed efficiently -- and cost-effectively.

Content management refers to the discipline of regulating the 20 levers (see graphic) associated with the production, distribution, and repurposing of content. IMT Strategies' research, which included interviews with 20 bellwether integrators, solution providers, and corporations, indicates that most organizations today are managing content primarily to maximize brand and only secondarily to maximize cost savings and revenue opportunities.

Given this focus, it is not surprising that many businesses today struggle to capture the value of their online marketing initiatives.

Content Management Levers
and How They're Governed Today
Levers
Localization
Federation
Centralization
Corporate Brand
Standards for the control of the image and integrity of corporate brand
0%
40%
60%
Housing/Repository/Storage
Common housing, storage, and architecture for content
47%
33%
20%
Look-and-Feel Standards
Standards for consistent site look and feel across web sites
19%
31%

50%

Publishing Rules
Processes, checklists, control point, management discipline regarding who and how content is published to the web
65%
29%
6%
Template/Consistency
Standard template for design to facilitate leverage, reuse, operational integrity across business units, and consistency
36%
28%
36%

Web-Enabling Legacy Content
Policies for mining, repurposing, and converting legacy content to make it useful for web publishing

69%
25%
6%
Reporting & Measurement
Management reporting and measurements to optimize quality and performance
69%
25%
6%
Personalization Program Requirements
Common requirements to support personalization and mass customization
44%
25%
31%
Versioning
Business rules and processes to manage version control and update and refresh content
53%
20%
27%

Navigation Structure
Common standards for navigating and structuring content across web site

31%
19%
50%
Media Type & Programming Standardization
Standards for using file, media, and programming protocols
50%
19%
31%
Authorization and Shared Access
Control over access to content, editing, creating, and updating
50%
19%
31%
Authoring Tools
Common platform and/or tools to standardize web publishing
64%
18%
18%
Working/Routing
Governing rules for approval and team managed published
62%
13%
25%
Tagging/Taxonomy
Common architecture or taxonomy for organizing content
56%
13%
31%
Scheduling/Deadlines
Rules and deadlines for web publishing schedules
69%
13%
19%
Funding Sources
Budgeting to resource content management activities
69%
13%
19%
Product & Services Brands
Standards for the control of the image and integrity of product and service for brands
44%
12%
44%
Language/Localization
Standards detailing level of localization and local language support across geographies
70%
6%
24%
Business Practices (Rules)
Rulebook or handbook describing how to generate, post, and use content
56%
6%
38%

We have identified three primary content management governance models in use today: localized, centralized, and federated. Of the 20 levers, 50 percent are managed with a localized approach (or not managed at all), 30 percent are managed with a centralized model, and 20 percent are managed with a federated approach. This grab-bag approach to managing the different levers is producing successful results less than half the time.

Local: The View From the Trenches

Ideally, localized governance empowers product- and service-level managers by encouraging creativity and allowing those most knowledgeable about products and services to manage their representation online. However, indications are that local governance frequently means the total or partial absence of managerial control. In the short term, a local governance model is most appropriate for only 3 of the 20 levers -- specifically, scheduling/deadlines, language and localization, and authoring tools.

Centralized: The Big Picture

Centralized governance places key content management levers under the control of a single corporate entity. A global perspective affords organizations many opportunities for cost savings, such as unifying work teams to avoid duplicating content-related work or end-to-end streamlining of the content development and deployment process.

Revenue is also potentially increased through an enterprise-level deployment and repurposing of content for coordinated marketing, promotional, and product programs. Our research indicates that approximately one-third of the levers are managed with a centralized approach.

These potential cost savings and revenue-generating opportunities remain largely unrealized, perhaps due to bureaucracy and related effects such as stifling local initiative and creativity. A centralized model does achieve a unified brand message.

Recognizing that a centralized approach is the best path to successfully managing brand on the web today, leading companies are applying centralized governance to content-management levers related to branding opportunities, such as navigation structure, look-and-feel standards, and corporate brand presence.

In addition to using a centralized governance model for brand-related levers, businesses recognize that a centralized approach to content management is also appropriate for levers requiring substantial infrastructure support (e.g., data storage) and enterprise-level standardization (e.g., tagging/taxonomy structures). Putting an end to brand confusion and integrating content and transactional data into central storehouses provide the necessary foundation for realizing deep cost savings or revenue-generating opportunities but do not in themselves accomplish these goals.

Federated: The Process-Oriented Perspective

Federated governance balances the enterprise-level perspective of a centralized model with the creative initiatives realized in a localized model. It optimizes staff and business unit coordination through right sizing of personnel and automating low value-added content management tasks. The institution of clearly defined structures allows businesses to take advantage of outsourcing options without losing control over look-and-feel and personalization standards online.

Content management technology platforms are inherently structured to support a federated governance model by enabling a granular division of labor and a process-oriented redistribution of labor and authority. For example, by cleanly separating design and copywriting tasks, content management platforms allow non-IT personnel to input content into an approved design template and management to approve its publication.

It enables the execution of multichannel strategies (through content repurposing), enterprise-level planning (establishing organizational performance and measurement standards), and delivery of up-to-date, accurate, targeted information (personalization programs).

Today, federated governance is not the dominant model employed to manage any of the 20 levers. The model is inherently process oriented and will ultimately outperform other organizational models because it is aligned with the technology solutions. The largest "weakness" or challenge of a federated governance model is that it requires a level of enterprise-wide cooperation that cuts across local product and service units.

In the short term, implementation will be difficult because executives must negotiate control boundaries with local managers. Implementing a centralized governance model in high profile areas of content management is a good starting point because it is the quickest way to introduce enterprise-level, rules-driven processes and realize content management related cost savings. This focus on cost savings provides a strong foundation for increasing revenues because it requires fixing processes rather than fixed inputs.

In the long term, executives must deploy web-based content management technology platforms on an enterprise level. With the widely projected convergence of content management technologies and e-commerce software platforms and with the further integration of CRM functionalities into these unified platforms, the adoption of a federated governance model will prove an essential engine for managing the complexity of online marketing and realizing sustainable competitive advantage.

Bottom Line

In implementing their content management solutions, organizations need to recognize the following four content management governance principles:

  • Software solutions designed to support content management are optimized for federated governance initiatives. The inability to realize a federated governance system implies an inability to realize the full ROI of a content management technology solution and content-related labor costs.

  • Centralization is the most effective short-term path to bringing ROI and brand-positive rules to a corporation.

  • Because the content that attracts users is developed either in-house at a local level or by third parties, companies must put in place rules and control points that protect corporate interest and empower content developers and managers.

  • Of the three objectives (revenue, cost savings, and branding opportunities) that drive or justify buying an expensive content management solution and funding the various staff necessary, revenue opportunities are the most strategically important as well as the most difficult to realize. Far-sighted managers need to experiment with their web profit and loss to measure the value and effectiveness of a content management solution and its implementation.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephen Diorio

Stephen Diorio is President of IMT Strategies, which he founded in 1998. He is an established authority in sales and marketing strategy with specific expertise in hybrid selling systems, customer relationship management (CRM), and e-business strategy development. He has developed high-growth, low-cost channel strategies for leading marketers including IBM, American Express, GE, and Eastman Chemical and has published "CRM 2000: A Demand Side Perspective on Relationship Marketing." Prior to forming IMT Strategies, Steve was a partner at Oxford Associates, a leading "go to market" and e-commerce strategy firm. Steve has held marketing management positions at Citicorp Direct Marketing and GE Sales and Marketing. He holds an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago and an engineering degree from Bucknell University.

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