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Five content management systems trends to watch in 2018

Expert Geoffrey Bock has some ideas for what's in store for content management -- think smart content getting smarter, omnichannel delivery advancements, DAM and more.

What's ahead for content management in 2018? The volume and velocity of content continues to rise exponentially, yet we are still limited by finite time in the 24-hour day, as well as our abilities to be happy and engaged.

Savvy organizations are discovering creative ways to harness this surging tide of content, ensuring that users can work both faster and smarter. Here is my top five list of content management systems trends that will become prominent next year to help us contend with the digital deluge:

  1. Smart content becomes ever more actionable and useful. In 2017, we added digital experience management to the lexicon of content technologies. As a new phase beyond web content management (WCM), this shift is more than semantic. Expectations and outcomes are changing.

    Yes, we still need to be concerned with the technologies and processes for creating, curating and publishing content to multiple channels. Snackable content that is delivered just in time is actionable and useful. It produces the digital experiences that increase productivity, satisfaction, collaboration and other business results.

    In 2018, look for a cacophony of innovative content services with AI, cognitive computing, machine learning and deep learning monikers. Get beyond the high-level descriptions to understand the underlying algorithms. Then, consider the assumptions about how your content should be organized and stored to take advantage of these smart capabilities.

    Some upfront investments are almost certainly going to be required. Identify what you need to do to your existing content management system to leverage the business benefits that these new services promise to deliver. You may need to extend your content model or add new layers of metadata to your information architecture. Be sure to begin the transition to add intelligence to your snackable content and make it smart soon.

  1. Headless content hubs power omnichannel delivery. Mobile devices broke the monopolies of full-screen web browsers. Now, 10 years into the mobile revolution, content must also be contextual and adaptive.

    No longer are we delivering content to just laptops, desktops, smartphones and tablets. We must also plan to accommodate third-party SaaS apps -- such as marketing automation systems -- chatbots, e-commerce platforms, kiosks, voice response systems, augmented reality devices and other environments just coming to the market.

    We expect to have different experiences in different contexts -- such as when our devices recognize our location, movements and biometric markers. Users need platforms that manage content as a service and deliver it seamlessly to any network-accessible venue imaginable.

    Already being piloted by innovators and early adopters, look for headless content hubs to cross the chasm and come into wide-scale deployment in 2018. These are cloud-powered content services that are delivery channel-agnostic. They feature an extensive set of APIs to access content, distributing it widely to all kinds of endpoints, and incorporating data from disparate digital sensors for two-way interactivity.

    Deployed through a cloud infrastructure, these headless content hubs support rapid application development capabilities in a content management system. They will make omnichannel content delivery truly adaptable to the speed of digital business.

  2. Digital asset management (DAM) for task-centric rich media management will be extended. Today, we manage many digital experiences through content silos -- WCM for websites and digital asset management for high-value rich media. Thus, branding agencies, digital media groups and marketing organizations rely on their DAM systems to manage the photos, images, audio tracks, videos and other kinds of rich media that represent their clients' brands. While most DAM systems require predefined metadata, many are beginning to introduce automatic object recognition based on machine learning services.

    Enterprise videos are another siloed example. Digitally savvy firms are beginning to rely on enterprise platforms to manage corporate videos, such as automatically indexing shoots from business meetings and producing targeted snippets for viewing. Behind the scenes, machine learning and deep learning algorithms are segmenting, processing and recombining video streams to create new experiences, with little or no human intervention.

    These media-specific silos are going to be part of the enterprise application architecture for a long time to come. But with the move to the cloud, there are going to be some tantalizing opportunities for synergy.

    In 2018, look for renewed efforts to break through content silos and deliver task-centric digital experiences.

    In 2018, look for renewed efforts to break through content silos and deliver task-centric digital experiences. For instance, content marketers will be able to seamlessly access rich media managed by their corporate DAM systems directly from their web content management system, with consistent metadata definitions and unified access controls. Easy access to approved digital assets will lead to enhanced productivity and faster website revisions.

  1. Intuitive personalization engines emerge. Personalization requires a lot of content and the embedded intelligence to channel it. While personalization was part of the original vision of the web, delivering on its promise has been fiendishly difficult -- until recently.

    No longer is personalization a black art, requiring extensive technical capabilities for building business rules. Several personalization engines launched in 2017 -- easy-to-use platforms for marketing professionals to segment their different audiences from disparate data sources, to target content delivery and to measure results.

    Expect wide-scale digital personalization deployments in 2018. There will certainly be an impact on e-commerce -- marketers can easily channel product offers to customers based on who they are, what they've previously purchased and what they are going to want.

    Moreover, intuitive personalization combined with location awareness will affect all kinds of business operations. For instance, a public transportation agency might utilize personalization capabilities to automatically alert riders about service interruptions on their routes before they leave their homes.

  1. Trusted content chains begin. Content security remains the Achilles' heel of content management systems. Yes, we have password-protected websites to control access, two-factor authentication to establish identities, digital signatures for nonrepudiation, encryption key management to ensure multiparty privacy and a host of other technologies to solve discrete security problems.

    Yet all these are point solutions designed to mitigate risks to an acceptable level and enable firms to deploy useful digital experiences. But digitized threats continue to grow, and there is, as yet, no satisfactory model for trust. For instance, when we access our favorite websites, we just assume the publishers are actually producing the content we view in the moment.

    Fake news is not only a political slogan in 2017, but also an actual concern for doing business in the digital age, and it is likely to remain an issue for years to come. Users need solutions to help them trust and verify the origins and the chains of custody of high-value content flowing through digital experiences. Content provenance remains an unsolved problem.

    Look for new approaches to address content provenance in 2018, testing blockchain as the underlying mechanism for establishing trust. One initiative is already underway in Europe to verify the integrity of credentials and degrees being granted by some educational institutions. Others are certainly on the drawing board.

    Digital experiences assume a trusting environment. It is incumbent upon the designers and administrators to assess the risks and verify the veracity of the experiences they deliver. Content provenance matters.

This was last published in December 2017

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