We’ve entered the Composable Era, where businesses must focus on creating richly personalized, context-specific content experiences for their users that span product, marketing, customer support, and every other brand touchpoint.
But what does this mean for you? What changes do you need to make to your business to embrace the principles of composability?
Magnus Hillestad, CEO of Sanity, explored these topics in an online fireside chat with group of industry experts: Anuj Rastogi, VP of Business Development at Rangle; Scott Gentz, former Director of Technology — Strategic Platforms at AT&T; and Christian Kabrich, VP of Sales at Sanity.
Check out the full video:
Meanwhile, here are some of the top takeaways:
The traditional view of “content” is text and images that live on a webpage. But if you think about all aspects of your business, content can actually encompass so much more. The channels and contexts where you could potentially leverage different pieces of content in different ways are endless.
Scott gave an example of AI chatbots used for customer support at AT&T. The team used to think about content as copy that lived on a webpage. But now, when they create content they proactively think about structuring it so it can be used effectively in this new channel.
Also, don’t overlook metadata as content. Metadata — which isn’t visible — is one of the most powerful types of content that informs experiences. It also provides valuable feedback, and when companies can harness that data and learn from that feedback loop, they can use those insights to adapt and innovate.
“There’s a paradigm shift in terms of what a company thinks content really is. Once you reframe your relationship with content and unshackle it, that’s when you’re really able to deliver that exceptional experience.” — Anuj
“Content is also that feedback that comes in from the customer, which informs how the business operates. That needs to permeate the organization.” — Anuj
And what do you need to leverage content as data, so you can make use of it across channels? One important requirement is a source of truth for all of your content. Siloed content makes it onerous and expensive — or even impossible — to leverage all of this data to create a consistent experience for users.
It’s also important to be thoughtful about how content is used across your organization, so you can create the foundation for extensible reuse. For example, a customer service rep getting feedback from a customer: how should that piece of content be recorded, labeled, and organized on the back end to ensure it can seamlessly flow into all the places in the organization where it could be useful and impactful?
“At the end of the day, content is—and should be—data. We’re at the point in our technology lifecycle where we have the computing power and tooling to leverage it, but we still need to think about taxonomy and make decisions about the meaning of this content to the organization.” — Anuj
“We need to have a source of truth for our content, just like we do with our data — especially at scale. There’s no way to efficiently manage all our content, optimize its reuse, and provide a consistent user experience if we don’t have this.” — Scott
There’s been a move from thinking about how to serve up content to different channels to thinking about how an individual user consumes content across channels, in different contexts.
Scott talked about AT&T’s “next best action” offers. In the past, the company would have looked at what’s best for the customer in a channel-specific context. But now, they’re looking at the entire customer journey.
For example: some customers do a lot of product research and comparison shopping—including online, at kiosks in stores, and self-service applications at third-party retailers. How can they make they surface content and offers that are contextually relevant and consistent, regardless of when and where they appears?
“Our customers are interacting with our brand in many different places, in real time. It’s very important to have the ability to quickly adapt, so we can present content that’s important to each customer at that point in time.” — Scott
“We’ve seen a move from static, manually curated experiences to the desire to have contextual, personalized, relevant experiences for customers — regardless of what channel they’re on.” — Scott
Personalization is the dream; but is it really possible (or valuable) to deliver a unique experience to every single customer? Anuj introduced the concept of the “long tail,” calling this customer segment an untapped market, “almost like the undecided vote.” Unlike your regular customers, their decision could go either way — so an impactful personalized experience could have a massive effect on business.
The move to composability gives companies the freedom and opportunity to address the long tail of experiences for their customers, experiment, and take more risks.
Instead of confining yourself to creating one experience that suits the needs of the majority of your users, you can address many use cases by quickly spinning up multiple iterations that can be tested, learned from, and iterated on. But this is only possible when you have content available plus systems set up that allow easy orchestration.
Many companies are still using workflows grounded in old-school publishing mindsets, using waterfall processes, and focused on a delivering a single output like an app. But that hasn’t proven effective. It’s not how humans collaborate best. Digital transformation is actually about transforming how people work together.
It can seem like a daunting task, but you can make progress with an iterative approach. To move forward, Anuj suggests “transformation by doing,” where you build capabilities as you go. Start by defining the end goal, and then work incrementally to move in that direction. As you progress, assess: what works well? You can take that small success and roll it out more broadly.
“We’re moving into an era in which you’re not responding in 3-week cycles; you’re responding in 3-millisecond cycles. You need to have the technological underpinnings that help you move fast. But the tech isn’t the primary barrier—it’s actually a cultural and capability challenge.” — Anuj
“If you start with where you are today, you’re never going to get anywhere. Start with one area of your business and work backwards from where you want to get to.” — Scott
New roles are springing up to support the evolution of content as a business driver that’s central to organizations’ growth — and businesses put money behind this trend. Content operations, content analyst, and content engineer are new titles that Christian and the Sanity Sales team are seeing.
Scott talks about how knowledge of metadata and analytics are more important than ever for content-related roles. And Anuj suggests that fluency in taxonomy is an important skill to leverage all of the content at an organization’s disposal.
“Content teams are evolving. Instead of just focusing on the publishing flow, it’s more about orchestration and composition. How do you ensure you get the right pieces into the right output? How do you organize that flow of data?” — Magnus
“We’re at a place in our technological lifecycle where a combination of increased computing power we have available through the cloud, advancements in machine learning and AI, plus new tooling. We have the tooling available to do it, but you still need to make decisions on defining what the content’s meaning is for the organization.” — Anuj
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