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Adaptive Content in the Enterprise: Challenges & Opportunities

Content Strategy

As responsive design enables omni-channel experiences that redefine what “being connected” might feel like, the potential for information to circulate across devices in newly effective ways is enormous.

Adaptive content – content that is independent of its presentation and works across a spectrum of screens and platforms – now forms the juncture of innovative technology and smart content management. For content strategists, this means that structured content, content reuse, and content governance have become pillars of responsive design.

Inside the enterprise, however, content creators still lean on desktop as the primary (or even only) gateway to information. They’ve stuck to desktop publishing tactics, which produce copy that works on just one screen size and isn’t meaningful when a user strays from her PC. This raises a thorny question: in our omni-channel world, why does “enterprise portal” so often mean intranet-only and desktop-dependent?

The answer isn’t simple, but one primary factor is the difficulty of creating – not to mention maintaining – adaptive content inside the enterprise. HR content, for example, is text-heavy, voluminous, highly variable, and legally consequential. E-commerce brands and news sites are quick to “create once, publish everywhere” because they can typically do so from scratch, creating structured content that adapts to a variety of screen sizes, platforms, and interactions using a top-down approach that governs content models and their implementation.

Inside the enterprise, things are a little different. Bottom-up content approaches are typically entrenched and can’t be jettisoned without substantial operational and compliance-related consequences. Sometimes, many content owners are involved, dispersed across countries, languages, and areas of the business. “Legs and regs” make adapting or truncating content for different devices infeasible. Transactional systems and third-party sites may be deeply integrated within the portal experience, and those might not be ready for responsive yet.

One other consideration: an enterprise portal can comprise tens of thousands of pages and hundreds of thousands of assets, making it very resource-intensive to implement a brand-new content strategy.

Where many businesses balk, we choose to embrace the content constraints of intranet portals as opportunities for innovation. Our approach, always evolving, is to leverage adaptive content strategies to make it easy for users to find the information they need most, while deploying creative tactics to improve findability for resources that aren’t responsive-ready. For example, policies and legal caveats might not make good adaptable content, whatever our technology might enable – but the summary information, process support, and applicability criteria that make them meaningful often does.

Some transactions can’t be supported in a responsive context just yet, but we can provide adaptable content that points users to the tools they need to complete a task. By supporting responsive design where it’s most effective, our content strategy engages and empowers employees while maintaining the integrity of content across new channels and platforms.

To us, effective content strategy means more than cleaving to industry best practices. By pursuing a deep understanding of the business, a creative approach to adaptive content, and empathy with user needs and expectations, we adapt the best innovations in content strategy to the unique requirements of the enterprise.

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