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September 20, 2013

Managing the Management of Enterprise Content

Strategic management of content is not something arrived at through trial and error, but instead is a clearly modeled set of considerations directing the execution of several other related managed efforts.The basic model is reasonably simple, but it is often not anticipated  because of distractions encouraged by emphasis on the wrong things.

Tops among these distractions is the preoccupation with tools and information management, so that is a great place to start clearing things up.

Information: data arranged and stored to provide statements about facts of various kinds. Facts typically include ideas such as conditions, relationships, or importance.

Content: contained information. The container itself exists in order to facilitate the portability and usage of the information. Understanding this, our idea of "container" should include both logical characteristics and physical ones.

Typically, we do things to information to assure that the statements are attributable, credible, and retainable. Those effects are the ones that predetermine whether information is worth finding, keeping, and exchanging. The choice to find, keep or exchange information derives from perceived or mandated requirements of intentional activities. The role of intention is most easily understood as "the reason for demand".

What this means is that information management starts with managing the reasons for demand, then includes managing selection, and finally incorporates managing supply as supported by managed acquisition. Nearly all tools and process models for managing information have relevance because they provide ways to predictably address, and reliably integrate, the four layers of this hierarchy.

Not much of that is about managing content. To manage content, the necessities are to:
- define how demanded information, and demand itself, should be promoted
- prescribe and support the relationship between selections and usage
- cultivate and optimize repositories for effectiveness of target operations
- solicit and evaluate materials proposed and produced for the repositories.

The precision of those distinctions allows us to correctly generalize the points of view that reveal whether content management is actually being practiced. In fact, we can identify a distinctive focus on content in a very few, very familiar words:
- programming
- classifying
- curating
- editing

Beginning with that perspective, the table below fills out the bulk of the basic model.

Content Value Management Strategy Model.jpg

As with information management, nearly all tools and processes for managing content have relevance because they provide ways to predictably address, and reliably integrate, the four layers of this hierarchy. Whether we consider television, radio, magazines, conferences, libraries, knowledgebases, or any other vehicle of directed content delivery, we see the same hierarchy in place.

As seen so far, highlighting this difference between information management and content management does not make their relationship harder to understand, but easier.

The key consideration is that content is information in a container, and the container is designed to make the use of the information effective. The "container" is made up of the results of activities that decide the quality, format, compatibilty and portability of the information for targeted uses. These results are the facilities, media and packaging established for producers and consumers. That is, facilities, media and packaging together contain the information.

Strategic management of content occurs not as a result of the choice of tools and processes, but instead as a result of the logic of using the tools and processes. This logic will represent the content management strategy. The logic exists to assure that the goals and objectives of having content are explicit and understood. Performing according to that logic requires the ability to coordinate the administration and operation of the facilities, media and packaging.

Day to day management of content occurs as the blend of controls and changes that are decided and assigned in administration and operation per the various objectives.

As identified in the table provided above, each of those aspects has associated objectives. Within a given organization (i.e. "enterprise"), the objectives as a group state the reasons why that organization believes it can use content to better execute its mission and achieve goals. That explicit understanding, represented by the collection of objectives, provides both the business justification for content management efforts and the management model for driving and protecting the business value of the content.

The results of content management arrive as the facilities, media and packaging that together contain information as available “content”.

Posted by Malcolm Ryder at September 20, 2013 12:57 PM