Gemological Institute of America gives content automation high grades

The Gemological Institute of America used Quark to automate content, cutting the process by a third.

The Gemological Institute of America had a content problem.

With students and campuses around the world, as well as a substantial population of online students, the institute was tasked with disseminating content in three different ways: via print, PowerPoint and e-learning documents.

"Building a new course could take many months," said Mitchell Spencer, senior manager of learning design and development at Gemological Institute of America Inc. (GIA), based in Carlsbad, Calif. "We wanted to do it from one source of content and have that produce it to different channels."

To solve this tedious process, Spencer looked toward content automation systems to speed along the creation and revision of course material.

As the leading authority on diamond, colored stone and pearl authenticity, GIA produces and distributes vast amounts of content for its thousands of students studying worldwide on campus or through online programs. To expedite the content-creation process, GIA started using Quark Software Inc.'s content automation tool in April 2015.

"In the past, we were developing the coursework essentially three times," Spencer said. "We'd develop the print copy, then e-learning and then the PowerPoint. They were all separate files."

Using Quark's content automation process, Spencer and the GIA staff are able to upload content at the entry phase and then select which of the three channels they want to publish it in. From there, the team performs some content-formatting tweaks, he said.

"Some of the images need to be refit, but it's far less work than if it was a stand-alone project," Spencer said.

Content automation cuts repetition

Content automation is already widespread in marketing, but it's starting to grow in other markets, such as education and publishing. According to Gartner, 70% of brand marketers are already using automated technology to address website and email content. Additionally, Gartner predicted by 2018, 20% of all business content will be authored by machine.

Eliminating most of the production time required to create and produce content was the goal of Denver-based Quark's retransformation when the 35-year-old company added content automation to its portfolio of page layout and design.

"Most content goes through a review process, and there's a design department and you have content in all these different places, whether it be in Word or databases or spreadsheets," said Gavin Drake, vice president of marketing for Quark. "That can lead to a huge amount of churn in an organization, and everything happens in series and takes a long time."

Once we have all the content in the system, we then can use it for other things. If we wanted to build a different version of the course, we can now do it.
Mitchell Spencersenior manager of learning design and development, Gemological Institute of America

Rather than reinventing the wheel each time, users can create reusable content that lives in the Quark system that can be manipulated and adjusted, depending on the need.

"Say one piece of legal text changes, and that piece of text is used on 200 pieces of marketing content," Drake said. "The system knows every document that uses that statement and will dynamically update it."

By allowing content to be stored and manipulated, users of Quark and other content automation companies, such as Adobe and MadCap Software, can quickly create or revise hundreds of documents at once over multiple channels.

After using QuarkXPress for desktop publishing, Spencer looked into Quark's content automation software to help solve GIA's content conundrum.

Revisions were a nuisance for Spencer at GIA, as well, with course revisions sometimes taking as long as creating course content.

"Our revisions were taking months to get done," Spencer said. "We had to do them three times for print, Power Point and e-learning. We haven't done too many revisions yet, but it will reduce the time it takes considerably."

Spencer is still accruing metrics on how much time is saved using content automation, but said he expects it to cut the time down to a third of what it used to take to produce and revise content.

"Now, once we have all the content in the system, we then can use it for other things," Spencer said. "If we wanted to build a different version of the course, we can now do it."

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