Document, Content, Knowledge: Part 1, Document Management

Information is every organisation’s most valuable asset and managing this information is essential. The amount of data and information within an organisation is growing dramatically. Efficient management of information can result in better customer service, improved internal communication, better decision making and enhanced productivity.

Information management systems provide the foundations to turn corporate data into intelligent, shared information by providing a central information source accessible to all. These systems have changed over time and evolved to meet various business requirements, such as remote working.

Document Management Definition: “Document Management is the process of managing documents through their lifecycle. From inception through creation, review, storage and dissemination all the way to their destruction” (Document Management Avenue).

Document management systems started to appear in the mid 1980’s. The original aim was to develop a system to enable the paperless office. Scanning all paper documents and retrieving them electronically was about as complex as it got. These early file and find systems were simply electronic filing cabinets.

The document management market has been revolutionised over the past 10 years by technological advances. Now document management systems capture almost any type of document not just paper but electronic documents, HTML, e-mails, EDI, XML, etc. They still allow you to store, search and retrieve documents, but the retrieval is now instant from anywhere and the search options much wider.

Another major enhancement to document management was the introduction of workflow. Workflow is defined as “an IT technology which uses electronic systems to manage and monitor business processes. It allows the flow of work between individuals and/or departments to be defined and tracked” (Document Management Avenue). It has become an integral part of many document management solutions and meant that it was possible to progress from simple file and find systems to a solution that could ‘manage’ documents; tracking the process of distributing documents, and monitoring and controlling work. The Internet is transforming the way that workflow is used and has led to a new term: eProcess. Research group Ovum defines eProcess as “workflow for the e-business. e-Process extends the concept of process automation to include a company’s partners, suppliers and customers”. Instead of monitoring organisation-wide processes, eProcess is extended to include any external organisations. For document management this means it is possible to effectively integrate documents with their partners, suppliers and customers. This increases collaboration between organisations and improves the efficiency of the supply chain.

Version Control

The definition of document management includes the ability to manage a document through its life cycle from creation to archive. While a document is live it may need to be worked on and altered by any number of people. Version control ensures you do not have clashing versions of documents. Version control gives “control over exactly who can edit documents and enter new documents into the system and avoids any update conflicts” (Cimtech). This involves checking out any documents that are being edited and locking them, allowing users to either save as newer versions or over-write old versions.

“In the future, document management will become established as a vital business tool for all organisations looking to share information on an enterprise basis” (Document Management Update)

Summary of document management:

  • Manage all types of document
  • Workflow and eProcess
  • Version Control
  • An evolved technology that forms the basis for content and knowledge management
  • Fast becoming a must-have for competitive business

Content management and knowledge management systems are basically extensions of the document management concept and this is where a lot of the confusion arises.

Content Management

Definition: “a set of tasks and processes for managing content explicitly targeted for publication on the Web throughout its life from creation to archive” (Ovum).

Content management solutions are essentially an extension of document management that includes managing web content. Some vendors simply re-badged their products without actually adding any functionality, but the true vendors of content management have added valuable capabilities that continue the scope of document management, beyond the confines of one organisation.

An area of much discussion in the market currently is personalisation of content. The prolific use of the Internet and the growth of customer relationship management (CRM) have made it much easier for companies to offer a personal service to customers. Content management systems often incorporate personalisation capabilities although the degree of personalisation can vary greatly, from referring to every user by name to offering the same content to a specific group of users. The technology involved today makes it possible for organisations to replicate the dialogue that a local shop owner might have with its customers, even though they may have many millions. A content management system can also be used like a document management system for capture, distribution and retrieval of information. Enterprise Content Management is a new term that is applied to a system that includes both content and document management capabilities. Content management solutions collect data or information from all required sources, organise it for ease of retrieval and deliver it using a web-compliant system. This can either be over the Internet or Intranet.

A content management solution is commonly used to keep a website up-to-date; it is likely to include web-based publishing, format management, revision control, indexing, search, and retrieval. A content management solution captures paper, media, graphic images, email, voice, video etc, and although it is usually associated with managing for the web it can be extended to include any structured and unstructured content for any channel.

Another vital difference between document management and content management is the way in which documents are classified. Document management is concerned with the external classification of a document, the index fields and keywords used to refer to it. Content management however, is concerned with internal classification methods such as author, date and time of creation and context.

Content management systems have become an essential part of a company’s IT infrastructure and this looks set to continue:

“Content management growth is slowed, not halted by the IT recession, while much of the IT industry is in recession, Strategy Partners analysis shows the CM market as continuing to display strong growth of 34.5% for software and services in Europe 1999-2003 after accounting for September 11th and current recessionary factors. This is faster than the worldwide market (29.5%)” (Strategy Partners, 2001).

Summary of content management:

  • Manages all content but usually focuses on managing web content
  • Web-publishing
  • Personalisation
  • A growing market that is becoming more established

Knowledge Management

Definition: “The process of capturing value, knowledge and understanding of corporate information, using IT systems, in order to maintain, re-use and re-deploy that knowledge” (Document Management Avenue).

Knowledge management aims to capture all the knowledge in an organisation, from paper documents, web information, electronic reports, employee knowledge or knowledge gained from informal meetings and discussions. Content or document management systems are often the backbone of knowledge management but there is a vast difference in the scope of information captured.

Knowledge management allows employees access to intelligent information and includes features such as collaboration, business intelligence, just-in-time e-learning and CRM. On an enterprise-level, knowledge management carries the largest change to the working practises of an organisation. IT solutions of this nature almost invariably require a change to the working environment. Knowledge management, is highly complex and Implementing a knowledge management solution brings about a large culture change at all levels within an organisation.

Interest in knowledge management has grown recently for several reasons; the Internet has raised users’ expectations of immediate access to relevant information; organisations are realising the value of their corporate knowledge; the shift in employment patterns, with people spending much less time in a company increases the chance of losing knowledge with an employee – it has been said that NASA wouldn’t be able to put a man on the moon now, as the knowledge was not captured at the time.

Knowledge management has a strong link with CRM, (customer relationship management) and a knowledge management system that contains all customer data can be used as a CRM system. This has made these systems especially popular in call centres. The ability to answer a customer query on the initial call not only saves time and the cost of a call back, but also improves customer relations.

Knowledge management systems are expensive and notoriously difficult to cost justify. The main reason for this is that a lot of the benefits are intangible. Improving efficiency, productivity, employee access to information and customer satisfaction are difficult to calculate. The benefits can be vast but the financial outlay and cultural change can be off-putting and hence the market is growing slowly:

“The KM market is projected to be worth between $1,500 and $4,000 millions in one to two years’ time, based on in-depth user surveys” (Strategy Partners).

Apart from the very largest of organisations, there has not been the take-up of knowledge management systems to match the hype.

Summary of knowledge management:

  • Manages all knowledge in an organisation
  • Often thought of more as a concept then a system
  • Strong links with CRM
  • Difficult to cost justify
  • A new market that is growing but slowly

Summary of Document, Content, Knowledge Management

Document management systems are now the definitive answer for efficient management of documents. The introduction of content management systems provided the ability to manage web content. Whereas knowledge management extends this concept to manage all knowledge existing in an organisation. So while all three manage information using similar methods, the scope and purposes remain quite distinct.

Crafting a Successful B2B Marketing Strategy

For many B2B marketers, the traditional marketing funnel that motivates prospects to self-identify and then move to a sales funnel, is ingrained in our minds. However, in the Age of the Customer, Forrester Research’s phrase for a customer-driven marketing landscape, the funnel has evolved to reflect a new customer expectation requiring sales and marketing to work in tandem.

With this in mind, B2B marketers must evaluate how their current B2B marketing strategy is aligned with the psychology of their buyer journey. In other words, B2B marketers must know how to craft a marketing strategy based on the predominance of the customer.

So, we have outlined a series of steps to follow when crafting a customer-centric B2B marketing strategy. Ask yourself and your team, “have we checked the following boxes when crafting our B2B marketing strategy?”

IDENTIFY TARGET PERSONAS IN YOUR B2B MARKETING STRATEGY

Going through the exercise to develop personas based on market and customer research is fundamental to understanding not only who is your audience but how to engage them in the buyer journey. Incorporating marketing personas makes websites two to five times more effective and easier to use by targeted users. However, only 44% of B2B marketers use buyer personas. So, ensure your B2B marketing strategy includes persona-based experiences that moves buyers forward in their journey with your brand.

MAP A PERSONA-BASED CUSTOMER JOURNEY TO DRIVE YOUR B2B MARKETING STRATEGY

Building out your influencer and decision personas to understand your target audience is only part of the process of laying a customer-centric foundation for your strategy. Next is to map the touch points of your buyer journey through all buyer stages. In order to close the loop from awareness to revenue it’s critical to know the touch points along the journey that are motivators and detractors in order to influence all parts of the customer experience. When developing your B2B marketing strategy answer the following, “How do I craft a strategy with the framework that aligns with your customer’s journey to gain clarity and define priority?”

DEFINE AND MEASURE B2B MARKETING STRATEGY GOALS & METRICS

Perhaps a no-brainer for a data-driven B2B marketer is clearly-defined metrics for success. With a heightened emphasis on personalization and customer experience (CX), B2B marketing goals and metrics must be established to measure the success of the marketing efforts supporting a customer’s progression through the buyer journey. Your B2B marketing strategy must outline how it will create direct contribution to revenue with a return and fuel high growth.

A recent case study example from one of our technology platform and services clients is Viewpointe, a leading private cloud managed services provider. Viewpointe was challenged with continuing to engage customers over the course of a 6+ month sales cycle. After clearly defining their B2B marketing goals, they aligned their content marketing plan with their persona-based customer journey. As a result, Viewpointe stayed engaged with their customers throughout the buyer journey and closed more deals. One way Viewpointe measured customer engagement lift was a 52% increase in persona aligned website content and 164% increase in blog content engagement from organic search referrals.

YOUR B2B MARKETING STRATEGY INCORPORATES ACTIONABLE INSIGHTS WITH SALES

Referring back to our earlier customer funnel illustration, the traditional hand-off from marketing to sales, with no feedback loop when a lead is “flipped over the fence to sales”, causing misalignment between B2B marketing and sales teams. In fact, 25% of B2B marketers have no idea what is their customer conversion rate. In the Age of the Customer, your marketing strategy should outline how to rip out the proverbial fence and instead encourage inter-team collaboration. Ensuring this marketing and sales alignment is crucial to creating a consistent customer experience along a buyer’s journey. Being intentional about sharing insights between teams is one way to encourage broad acceptance of a successful B2B marketing strategy execution.

YOUR NEXT STEP

With only 45% of B2B marketers confident that they have decent, if not high, levels of customer centricity, the time to is now to author your new B2B marketing strategy that elevates you above your competition.

Internet Marketing Strategies – Where Do I Start?

Finding Your Path Through the Internet Marketing Jungle

Trying to decide how to strategically market your product or service (or yourself) on the internet can be overwhelming. There are a myriad of marketing possibilities to choose from, and more great strategies are being offered almost daily. How can an internet marketer decide on the best strategic marketing plan that works for their business?

There seems to be as many answers for which strategies to use in what situation than there are internet marketing strategies themselves! There are definitely too many strategies for any one marketer to utilize them all. If you have a very large team with access to multiple internet marketing specialists, your marketing strategies can incorporate most available methods. However, most of us do not have access to that kind of resource.

How Do You Choose Your Internet Marketing Strategies?

There are too many internet marketing options to discuss them all in a short article, but there are three general principles that can make a huge difference to your marketing efforts. Following these principles will not just improve the success of your current internet marketing plan, but can help you figure out where to start focusing your efforts in the first place.

Three Principles for Making Appropriate Strategic Marketing Choices

1) Be Capable in your Strategic Marketing

Not all marketers are created equal. We all have a variety of strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately we tend to focus more on how to fix our weaknesses rather than how to harness our strengths. It is true we should all strive to improve ourselves, but sometimes the time and effort placed on learning the internet marketing strategies we are struggling with would be better placed finding and perfecting strategies that we already have an aptitude for.

When a strategy works well for the majority of marketers it does not necessarily mean it will work well for you. If a particular strategy does not come easily to you, it will take more time and will likely not generate the top quality you need to stand out against your competitors. If you are not adept at something, use a different strategy that you can implement effectively with the unique capabilities you do have, or make the investment to outsource if you have the means to do so.

This does not mean we should not learn new strategies! If you are not constantly learning, you will also not succeed. Make sure you are not perpetually spending more time learning something that is difficult for you than you are taking to actually market your product or service. Some great internet marketing strategies are better left for others who have a better aptitude for them. Their expertise will allow them to do it better than you anyway.

2) Care About your Strategic Marketing

Let’s face it; everything we do in marketing is not fun. It is work, and most definitions of work do not include the word ‘fun’. However…take a second and think about sitting in front of your computer to work on your latest marketing project. If you would rather be sitting in the dentist’s chair getting a couple of teeth pulled, you are spending your time with the wrong strategies. Work can actually be enjoyable. At the very least, you should be able to find a few good strategies that beat getting teeth pulled. There are many strategic marketing choices on the internet. Pick the ones you enjoy and care about.

“But my current marketing strategies are supposed to be the best for my product!” “My upline says this strategy has been working for everyone on the team!” If you hate what you are doing, it will show in your work, just as your passion will shine through when you are doing something you love. It will be difficult to put in extra hours when necessary, you will be more apt to give up prematurely, and you will be unable to do exceptional stand-out work if you hate every minute of it.

Start by learning the marketing strategies you are most interested in, see which ones you like, and master those first. Eventually learn them all so you can find which methodologies you most enjoy and are best at. These will be the marketing strategies that perform the best for you and are more sustainable in the long run.

3) Be Consistent with your Strategic Marketing

For many marketers, the strategy seems to be: ‘Chase the latest and greatest marketing options as soon as they appear.’ They work on something, get mediocre results, then three weeks later when a great new idea comes along, abandon their current efforts and ‘try’ something else. This is not a recipe for sustainable success.

Sometimes the latest hot new marketing trend can work wonders and inject a lot of cash into your business. New ideas should be taken advantage of when appropriate. However, if it’s new it is unproven and may fail. Has it been tested in your niche market? Will it still be working a week from now? If you change your marketing plan more often than you change your socks, you will never get really good at anything. You will be spending as much time learning new things as you do actually marketing your product or service.

Consistency is the key. If your strategic marketing plan is based on solid and proven strategies and you do not give up and start something new every couple weeks, you will become an expert in those strategies. They will get easier, less time consuming, and start running like clockwork to bring you a consistent stream of clients. It is easier and less risky to learn and test new methods when you have a proven and profitable system already in place to fall back on.

Points for Choosing the Right Internet Marketing Strategy

– Develop a good strategic base of internet marketing methods that you enjoy and are capable of implementing effectively.

– Be consistent with these marketing strategies so you become an expert and are profiting from them with minimal effort.

– Try almost everything, including the ‘hot’ new methods that look like they have potential, but don’t abandon the tried and true methods that have already been proven to work.

– If you find new marketing methods that you enjoy and can utilize effectively, add them to your long tern internet marketing strategy and use them consistently until you master them.

Follow these steps, be patient and consistent, and you will succeed in finding your own strategic path through the internet marketing jungle. Happy Marketing!