“Content strategy is to copywriting as information architecture is to design. I find this analogy to be especially encouraging because six years ago, as the crest of the first wave of the web was about to break, people had no idea what “information architecture meant.” – “Content Strategy: The Philosophy of Data” by Rachel Lovinger
“Content strategy refers to the planning, development, and management of content—written or in other media. The term is particularly common in web development since the late 1990s. It is a recognized field in user experience design, but also draws interest from adjacent communities such as content management, business analysis, and technical communication.” – Wikipedia.
These two mind maps double as modeling graphs to help visualize the thinking behind a brainstorming exercise. The objective being content distribution and promotion of a new digital asset.
Both charts present a variety of concepts to facilitate a discussion on defining goals, utilizing tools and channels and, most importantly, outlining options and related trade-offs.
In this particular case, the asset was originally created in an experiential marketing project. It, therefore, involves interactive content successfully consumed in face-to-face conversations, which engage target customers and key influencers.
At the time of writing this, we are looking at content adaptation and augmentation for online distribution. Addressing self-service prompts questions on the right content mix to generate new leads. This now entails the development of additional content accounting for the needs of a different experience.
Your comments and feedback are very much appreciated. Feel free to email and/or contact me on LinkedIn as you see fit. Thanks again.
By the way, in case you wondered, the title of this (as well as other posts) is “high tech marketing” only because that’s the industry I work in, but the above insights are relevant to other sectors.
Working on the diffusion of innovations and marketing emerging technologies presents known challenges:
- fast evolving contexts
- shifting environments
- market timing and uncertain speed of adoption
- technical trade-offs leading to open dilemmas
- high signal-to-noise ratio often cluttered by chatter, hype and vaporware
- legacy systems’ last gasps given improvements and existing economies of scale
In this context, it is worth considering the following:
A – Thinking clearly and mastering clarity:
- Depicting and differentiating between what’s “state of the art” and readily available vs. concepts and future opportunities belonging to the “art of the possible.”
- Spelling out “incremental innovation” based on performance (technical, operational, financial) improvements when compared to today’s environment.
- Spelling out “disruptive innovation” exposing new unique capabilities which cannot be achieved with conventional and alternative solutions.
B – Thinking differently and mastering the element of surprise:
- “Abstracting out complexity” by striking a balance between Albert Einstein’s (above) and Arthur C. Clark’s (below) statements on simplicity and sophistication.
- Delivering the “wow factor” based on elegant know-how, technical prowess and by appealing to unequivocal easy to follow logic.
- Delivering the “cool factor” based on engaging simplicity and memorable experiences creating positive emotions.
C – Thinking about your audience and mastering the conversation:
- Understanding their journey, business, haves/have-nots, pain-points, behaviors, motivations, aspirations and decision making.
- Recognizing what belongs to “need to know” versus “good to know,” what’s core vs. added value to stay away from self-defeating information overload.
- Designing best of “breed solutions” in the context of the lifecycle of “end-to-end” systems.
This is not a comprehensive list, but a quick effort to synthesize a handful of guiding principles proven to work in past projects. As usual, I will welcome your emails to continue the discussion. In the meantime, I hope that some of the above are of interest.
“It was December 9, 1968, and as Kay watched from audience, Douglas Engelbart and his fellow computer scientists from Silicon Valley’s Stanford Research Institute unveiled NLS, an online system that included the world’s first computer mouse and presaged so much of today’s online software, including everything from window-like interfaces to what we now call hyperlinks […] Many didn’t understand it […] Short for oNLine System, NLS let you work and communicate with others in countless ways. You could edit text, draw images, manipulate and organize files, send messages, and even video conference. The idea was to supercharge human intelligence through collaboration.” – “Tech Time Warp of the Week: The Mother of All Demos, 1968“ by Daniela Hernandez, Wired.
Emerging technologies are easily subject to self-defeating hype and unfulfilled promises, making it hard to tell apart what’s real from vaporware. At that point, slideware and writings alone do not suffice, demonstrations and trustworthy testimonials become of the essence.
Please note that I’m not comparing what follows with the original “Mother of All Demos.” The above quote is rather a sign of respect and a reference model, something to look up to and strive for.
Our team at the Cloud Innovation Center has been extremely busy working on an NFV portfolio demonstration and, therefore, looking into a challenging questions on what it takes to deliver the mother of all of our NFV demos, and the purpose that it would actually serve… if any.
We thought that this means shifting from a piece meal approach based on showcasing product specific demos to helping everyone experience what happens when things work together across the board. A silo busting exercise.
The industry’s initial focus on “best of breed” needs to be coupled with a modular end-to-end systems engineering where the resulting value and efficiencies clearly exceed the mere addition of any of these elements. Going back to the “Mother of All Demos” reference, isn’t “supercharging” what synergies should be all about?
Following that train of thought, complexity becomes one other issue of concern, which can undermine any good intentions from the onset. For that reason, we made picture  be our other guiding principle, striving to deliver elegant sophistication in simple terms by engaging the customer in a first hand interactive experience, and making it be a memorable one for that matter.
One more thought… we also discussed what the right ratio should be between presenting “state of the art” and “art of the possible.” Going back and forth many times on this through the process, the team consistently stuck to an 80/20 ratio where 80% of the demonstration is anchored on what becomes available this year and the remaining 20% addresses the path forward and underlying design of future things. When dealing with hot technologies, the industry can get easily saturated with Proof of Concept (PoC) and me-too projects. The more reason to clearly spell out what the real deal is.
Any conversation dealing with emerging technologies should handle two other questions regarding incremental vs. disruptive innovation. We are defining “incremental innovation” as getting better with something that we happen to do today already: showing the delta in performance whether operational or financial. We are defining “disruptive innovation” as doing something that we couldn’t possibly do before when working with legacy and conventional technologies, something of “unique value” that is.
While this might or might not be how others might define incremental and disruptive innovation, we can go beyond semantics to agree on the need for addressing the underlying framework. By the same token, note that a “breakthrough” is not a differentiation in this context, as both kinds of innovations rely on this type of high impact discovery one way or another.
In addition to the above concepts, these few pictures outline some of the tools we used in the design and development of “NFV: Service Innovation & Lean Ops,” which we will be demonstrating in Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress in just a couple of weeks. Hope to see you there : )
 Refers to a set of guiding principles: the kind of stuff you go back to conduct a sanity check and when in doubt, which I discussed above. As an example: “if you cannot explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
 This is the kick off creative brief: just a one pager outlining the mission by answering “why/what/when/who/where” to being with… while understanding that the project is an iterative journey where we will make discoveries that can make us switch our course and speed as we make progress. Project management wise, it pays to keep an eye on status, flags, % completion and remaining resources, including time left.
 Ideation techniques using both regular post-it and easel size ones for different groups, prioritization exercises leverage location and color coding. Nothing goes to waste: 3M’s Post-it Plus App for Apple’s iPhone comes in handy to capture these “boards,” which helps with post-meeting processing, collecting snapshots of any brainstorming session and keeping up with Kanban scrum boards in software development.
 Conventional whiteboarding also taking advantage of capturing what’s happening with the same app, making an entire whiteboard become a post-it note joining other pictures taken at other sessions, zooming in and out as needed.
 A variety of frameworks have helped organize and communicate information with other teams, as well as a checking for consistency and alignment.
 Low fidelity sketches were used to start visualizing key concepts early on: an agile alternative to cumbersome requirement documents at each iteration.
 High fidelity renderings of photo-realistic mock-ups aiding rapid prototyping.
 Wallpapering in a meeting room where all team members can review designs, post new items and further brainstorm throughout the project.
 Dogfooding (eating your own dog food) means that everyone in the team gets a first hand experience and understanding of what’s being developed, joining testing and contributing to next steps.
 Field trips, going out there to look for best practices and sources for new ideas outside of our own work environment and industry clichés. As an example, these pictures were taken at demonstrations taking place at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry and one of Fermilab’s control rooms for the particle accelerator complex.
 Last but not least, the workload involves observational (e.g. ethnography) and usability research coupled with sessions with customers, subject matter experts and in-house stakeholders.
This is an iterative process and the above 10 items might not all take place at each iteration and/or in the same sequence at each cycle.