Data Conversion Laboratory, Inc. (DCL) and the Center for Information Development Management (CIDM), have released the results of the 5th annual "Following the Trends – Is Your Content Ready?" survey, and the results show, among many other insights, that a surprising 51% of those polled responded "No," that their content is not ready – a 21% increase over last year.
Each year the survey's goal is to probe and track how, and if, organizations or individual professionals are adapting their processes and content to be more viable in an increasingly electronic world. Questions covered a wide range of topics around content, including types of content being developed (User Manuals, Release Notes, Training Materials), authoring tools (XML author, MS Word, FrameMaker), and mobile strategies, as well as classic concerns like staff, budgets, and time.
Spanning five years, this survey has attracted almost 1900 respondents with 2017's drawing in 369 professionals. "There is comfort in knowing you are not alone in the challenges you face," said Dawn Stevens, Director of CIDM and President of Comtech Services. "I think so many participate in this survey year after year to see where they are in comparison to other companies, and to ensure that they are not being left behind.”
Who were this year's survey respondents? Over half of those who participated were "Writers," with the majority of others being "Managers," "Information Architects" and "Content Strategists." 60% said their industry was "Technology," and 15% were in "Industry." "Professionals," "Life Sciences," "Publishers" and "Other" made up most all other industries.
That 51% of people polled in 2016 say their content isn't ready versus 30% in 2015 raises the question of, why? "My sense is that the bar is constantly rising both in functionality and data volume, and if you're not keeping up, you're falling behind. I think the people who thought they'd just wait and see, are finding that they're now that much further behind," said Mark Gross, DCL's president.
Tellingly, 66% said their "search capability needs improvement;" 53% "have so much content that customers cannot find the correct information to help them be successful;" and 44% noted that their "current content does not fully support customers' needs." Judging from that sample alone, the trend is clearly that professionals and organizations are concerned about their customers' ability to easily find and consume their content.
When asked about the barriers or challenges respondents are facing when trying to get their content ready for the future, time, budget, resources, and "content not designed or written appropriately" featured prominently. When queried about their content conversion strategies, 59% of respondents said they convert legacy content in-house, with 48% saying they train their in-house team, and 46% planning to rewrite their content before they convert. Further, 64% said their content is currently not well structured and 61% noted they have insufficient staff to fix it.
"I think this is one of those cases where perfect is the enemy of good. Rewriting content is a big undertaking and can lead to years of delays. I have found that automated conversion accompanied by partial rewrites get you most of the way there, but years earlier," noted Mark Gross.
Since 1981, DCL (https://www.dclab.com) has been a leader in helping organizations maximize the value of their content assets through digitization, organization, reuse, and providing greater accessibility.