What does a culture of content have to do with Internet of Things? The answer to this might surprise you: everything. The answer in a word: alignment.
Let’s start by defining a culture of content. A culture in any context is a “common reference points of whole peoples” [Wikipedia], connecting common aspirations, beliefs, ideals, and ways of doing things. In recent Altimeter research, A Culture of Content, my co-author Rebecca Lieb and I define a define a culture of content:
A culture of content exists when the importance of content is evangelized enterprise-wide, content is shared and made accessible, creation and creativity are encouraged, and content flows up and downstream, as well as across various divisions. A formalized yet not immutable content strategy is the framework upon which to base culture.
Just as interoperability across technology systems, standards, and data streams is foundational to realizing the promise of IoT, so too is a culture of content. One might even think of a culture of content as the very engine of interoperability responsible for brand expression.
Convergence across Ecosystems Renders Cultural & Strategic Alignment Critical
What the Internet of Things represents fundamentally is the convergence of online and offline. This convergence, in conjunction with social, mobile, e-commerce, etc. is defining the organizational need for digital transformation– for which cultural alignment is essential. Add to this, the convergence of media itself (i.e. paid, owned, and earned); media and platforms convergence (<link to previous IoT/CoC post) (i.e. connected products; product and experience); and convergence of proprietary brand experiences, as all ecosystem players (i.e. brands, manufacturers, distributors, ad networks, telecom providers, etc.) are increasingly forced into more shared models of operating. As these lines that have historically separated these elements continue to blue, the brand imperative to create a culture of content could not be more critical.
Fundamentally a culture of content is about alignment. It’s about creating an engine, or ‘well-oiled machine’ designed both to inspire and empower creative, as well as keep pace with demand, distribution, and optimization internal and external to the organization. Our latest research found that a culture of content is comprised of four core elements: Inspiration, People, Process, and Content, described in great depth in the report.
Alignment at the inspiration level is about bringing the internal mindset around content to one of understanding, support, empowerment, creativity, and innovation. Integrated workflows across teams, business units, and internal and external parties help streamline and scale content deployment. Even media itself, through the convergence of paid, owned, and earned must be connected through workflow and divisional coordination, designed for optimizing resources internally and experiences externally. A culture of content doesn’t work in silos, and as the world grows ever more connected, silos will only hinder brands’ efforts towards unification.
To realize the value of content across a connected ecosystem, organizations must recognize the imperative to integrate systems (e.g., content management, digital asset management, social media management, advertising platforms, CRM, e-commerce, mobile management, and agency systems) to drive as holistic a view of content performance and individual customer experience as possible. Integrated technology systems with shared access, reporting, data, and automation enable agility and meaningful measurement, and the efficient transportation and transformation of content across constituencies, channels, platforms, and beyond.
Content, like Data, will Pervade
In a culture of content, brands don’t just produce content, they truly value its role, expression, and potential. Aligning all of these elements is what will enable brands to deliver the right content (or right service) to the right person on the right channel at the right time and in the right place– still the proverbial holy grail for most marketers today. Brands must think of content as they are beginning to think of data; a sort of currency or layer which pervades every piece of the organization, and in context of which silos must dissolve.
As the demand for content spiders outwards in all directions, brands must do more than create more content; they must cultivate an authentic culture of content to encompass all ‘nodes’ of brand experience– be they online, offline, in-app, or across an ever expanding ecosystem of connected interfaces.