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Nearly half of respondents in a new survey said their content was not ready to support their plans for the future.
The latest annual content trends survey from Data Conversion Laboratory (DCL) and the Center for Information Development Management (CIDM) finds that 48 percent said their content was not ready. Last year that number was 51 percent, which is minimal progress.
The survey responses make clear that content is recognized as a high-value asset for many organizations, so why then is so much of it locked in formats resistant to the level of analysis and number of delivery platforms available in today’s “big data” world?
The joint research, Following the Trends—Is Your Content Ready?, is based on the sixth annual survey from DCL and CIDM, which gives professionals the annual opportunity to weigh in on the subject of content, including delivery methods, management, formats, and more.
The quantity of content keeps growing
After six years, the one trend that remains consistent is that organizations are creating a lot of content, but do not have the time or resources to future-proof it. When asked, “What are the shortcomings of your content as it exists today?” 65 percent answered, “search capability needs improvements.” The question, “How do you deliver content today?” resulted in 71 percent of respondents saying they still deliver their content in PDF format—down slightly from 2017 when 74 percent said PDFs were their format of choice. When asked, “What is your mobile device strategy?,” 36 percent said they have “no current mobile strategy.” 2017’s results for the same question showed this number to be 38 percent.
“The survey shows that content developers are aware of their customer needs and know where their information falls short in meeting those needs. However, they often don’t know where to start to make improvements: What will make the most impact? What is the most cost-effective? What can they do with the resources they have available today?” said Dawn Stevens, president of Comtech Services and director of CIDM, in a news release.
What are the reasons behind this lack of progress?
Seventy-one percent of respondents said “insufficient staff time” was the main barrier in trying to get their content ready for the future. “Insufficient budget” (57 percent), “inadequate tools” (49 percent), and “content not designed or written appropriately” (49 percent) rounded out the top obstacles in getting content prepared for the future.
“Change is hard, which I think explains why so little has changed this year from last year. While most respondents agree they need to better structure content to meet future needs, most have not done much about it,” said Mark Gross, president of DCL, in the release. “I think the key response is lack of staff time, and for good reason—most organizations run quite lean these days, barely keeping up with day to day work. Taking on an ‘important’ major project often takes second place to the ‘urgent’ project. One takeaway from this this survey is that organizations need to be very deliberate in organizing resources, both internal and external, to build for their future.”
While some responses feed the narrative that most organizations are behind in getting their content ready, there are also signs that they are planning to improve. For instance, to the question “How do you expect your content strategy to change in the next two to three years?,” respondents noted: “Improve mobile device support” (56 percent), “provide dynamic delivery system” (41 percent), “change authoring environment” (37 percent), and “restructure content to be topic-based” (33 percent).
The majority of respondents were “Writer/Information Developer/Content Developer” (55 percent), “Manager/Executive/Owner” (39 percent) and “Information Architects (31 percent)”, along with other titles. More than half of respondents answered that they were in the “technology” industry.