Knowledge integration: The future of Technical Communication

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Scriptorium hosts Tristan Bishop of Symantec as he muses on Technical Communicators' evolving roles.

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Knowledge integration: The future of Technical Communication

  1. 1. Knowledge Integration The Future of Technical Communications Tristan David Bishop, Senior Principal Business Analyst July 15, 2010
  2. 2. Introduction
  3. 3. About the speaker: Tristan David Bishop helps Symantec to deliver "the right knowledge to the right customers at the right time in the right language." By integrating technical publishing best practices with web delivery innovation, Tristan forges solutions that optimize customer experience, improving the corporate/customer relationship. Tristan David Bishop, Sr. Prin. Business Analyst 3
  4. 4. Symantec • Operates in more than 40 countries • FY 2009 revenue = $6.2 billion (Enterprise=$4.4b, Consumer=$1.8b) • Over 17,500 Team Members • Revenue by Geography: – Americas. . . . . . . . . . . . 55% – EMEA. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30% – APJ. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15% • Secures half of the world‟s data • Backs up half of the world‟s data 4
  5. 5. Agenda 1 Changing Landscape 2 Knowledge Integration 3 Required Skills 4 Knowledge Integration at Symantec 5
  6. 6. The Changing Landscape
  7. 7. The Changing Landscape 1. Mobile Communications 2. Content: Static to Dynamic 3. Topic-Based Publishing 4. Global Knowledge Requirements 5. Web-Based Support 6. User-Generated Content 7
  8. 8. Established content practices are undergoing profound and fundamental changes Clarlone, Kadie and Laplante: Gilbane Group, “Multilingual Communications as a Business Imperitive” 8
  9. 9. Mobile Communications Source: “Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, International Telecommunications' Union, Annual Report 2008” 9
  10. 10. News: Static to Dynamic “Every big-city newspaper in the U.S. is either in bankruptcy or will be in bankruptcy in the foreseeable future ... The newspaper industry in the U.S. is over." - Michael Wolff, Vanity Fair, Mar 18, 2010 10
  11. 11. Navigation: Static to Dynamic GPS will grow to >$70 Billion by 2013 Handsets will have 78% GPS market share by 2013 RNCOS E-Services Pvt. Ltd, “World GPS Market Forecast” 2/10 11
  12. 12. Directories: Static to Dynamic • Hard-Copy Yellow Pages will lose 39% revenue over next five years • Directory industry already trained 80% of sales staff to sell interactive products • Reportlinker, "Say Goodbye to Yellow Pages", July 2008 12
  13. 13. Product Content: Static to Dynamic “We have to become good at delivering highly targeted, „just in time‟ information: the right bit, at the right time, to help our reader answer a specific question and get on with a task” Larry Kunz, SDI – Winner STC President‟s Award, 2010 13
  14. 14. Topic-Based Publishing • Internet caused fundamental change • Past = Books; Today = Topics • Traditional delivery methods are OBSOLETE 14
  15. 15. Poll #1 What doc delivery methods are in use at your org today? a) Printed hard-copy manuals or sheets b) Files on a CD or DVD (PDF, CHM, HTML) c) Links to online web content Select all that apply 15
  16. 16. Time Travel 16
  17. 17. We cannot continue blindly producing manuals. Much of what we do as technical writers needs to change to meet the growing reality of communication world-wide. Paula R. Stern, WritePoint Documentation Services 17
  18. 18. Global Knowledge Requirements • Primary markets saturate • Shareholders still expect revenue growth • Company enters new locales • Requires proactive global knowledge strategy • English = Base language • Automated QA of English source = maximizes MT With apologies to Gary Larson 18
  19. 19. Web-Based Tech Support • New labor force entrants grew up with web access • They expect web-based support • Phone-based interactions rapidly decreasing • Our profession is KEY to web-based, self-service support • Tech Writers must repurpose manuals as topics for web • Per Forrester, global average cost support phone interaction is $12. Self-service average interaction cost is $0.25 19
  20. 20. User-Generated Content • Early web = company writes, customer reads • Today‟s web = both write (blogs, forums, wiki) • Tomorrow‟s web? = both write and BOTH read (round-trip) 20
  21. 21. Technical communicators must now compete with information being generated by the user community. Sarah O’Keefe, Scriptorium Publishing Services 21
  22. 22. Knowledge Integration
  23. 23. We are entering a new era of product content practices. Customers are embraced as part of the content lifecycle. Clarlone, Kadie and Laplante: Gilbane Group, “Multilingual Communications as a Business Imperitive” 23
  24. 24. The Knowledge Integrator A Knowledge Integrator will partner with other teams across the organization to gather content that can proactively solve customer issues, reducing the need for incoming support calls. 24
  25. 25. Knowledge Integration 1. Gathering Content 2. Ensuring Accuracy 3. Ensuring Compliance 4. Delivering Repurposed Content 25
  26. 26. Technical writers have an opportunity to morph into the social conduit by which companies interact with users Louis Marascio, LugIron Software Blog 26
  27. 27. Gathering Content Seek key topics we didn‟t think to write 1. Review customer comments on published topics 2. Study web search results 3. Monitor Tech Support forums 4. Set up automated Keyword Alerts 27
  28. 28. 25% of Google search results for the world‟s top 20 brands link to user-generated content. Aarons, Edwards, & Lanier - "Search Engine Strategies magazine", June 2009 28
  29. 29. Ensuring Accuracy • InfoDev must connect with Dev, QA and Support • Build close relationships • Arrange for rapid cross-checks by SMEs 29
  30. 30. Ensuring Brand Compliance • Know your corporate branding requirements • Build close relationship with Marketing/Branding • Ensure that repurposed content is compliant 30
  31. 31. Delivering Repurposed Content • Distribute to target customers – Post to online KB for browsing – Initiate L10n for key topics – Push into local installations (Live Update) – Optimize for mobile viewing 31
  32. 32. Required Skills
  33. 33. Why pursue new skills? • Cost Cutting continues (RIFs, Outsourcing) • We need to show measurable business value • Become ready to step into Knowledge Integrator role 33
  34. 34. Required Skills 1. Topic-Based Writing 2. XML Publishing 3. Social Media Experience 34
  35. 35. Topic-Based Writing Skills • Study best practices for topic-based authoring • Learn industry-standard content models • Study DITA core types (“concept”, “task” and “reference”) 35
  36. 36. XML Publishing Skills • Develop XML publishing skills • Understand the node hierarchy • Data - not pages • WYSWIG DTP = EOL 36
  37. 37. XML has won. All major office suites now save their documents in zipped XML by default. Elliotte Rusty Harold, Polytechnic University, “XML Predictions: IBM.com” 2/5/08 37
  38. 38. Social Media Skills A few Statistics: • Over 50% of the world‟s population is under 30- years-old • 96% of them have joined a social network • If Facebook were a country it would be the world‟s 3rd largest (behind China and India) • More than 80,000 websites have implemented Facebook Connect since December 2008 38
  39. 39. Social Media Skills • Explore leading Social Media networks • Create basic user profile at prominent sites • See new data exchange methods in action • Metatags = driving the future of our industry – Twitter “trending topics” – Twitter #hashtags – Facebook “Connect” – LinkedIn “recommendations” – Stumbleupon “favorites” 39
  40. 40. Poll #2 Which Knowledge Integration skills have you already attained? a) Topic-based publishing b) XML publishing c) Social Media Select all that apply 40
  41. 41. Knowledge Integration at Symantec
  42. 42. Case Study: Symantec Backup Exec • Market-leading Windows data protection • 1.5 million global customers • Documentation in 11 languages 42
  43. 43. BE InfoDev - Customer Survey • 2007 – Pubs team surveyed several hundred customers • Web search had become primary knowledge access method The number of customers who "often" sought information about BE via Google was 500% higher than those who "often" sought information via the PDF manuals. Pubs checked “Google” results, didn‟t find our PDFs first In response, we initiated effort to modernize delivery channels In 2008, began delivering content as stand-alone web topics
  44. 44. BEWS InfoDev – Web Topic Results • Two years later, BEWS InfoDev now Backup Exec - Web Topic Hits has 4,857 topics on the web • February 2010 had 1.6 million hits • Web topic hits exceed PDF manual hits by ratio of 26 to 1 March 31, 2010
  45. 45. Symantec - Knowledge Data Flow 45
  46. 46. Knowledge Delivery in 2010 • Deploying InQuira Information Manager for web KM • Topics will be tracked and scored by usefulness • We will receive direct customer feedback • We will learn if there are missing topics 46
  47. 47. Global Self-Service in 2010 • We already have translated XML topics stored in our CMS • We will now deliver them to the web through the InQuira KMS • InfoDev will facilitate self-service support across global markets • We hope to drive down incoming support call volumes, saving money for the company 47
  48. 48. Backup Exec: Knowledge Integration • Content redeployment effort = profound success • Will tune our published topics based on customer feedback • Can now look toward user-generated content – Backup Exec FAQ – BE TekTips forum (>33k members) 48
  49. 49. Backup Exec: Knowledge Integration • Building customer communities • InfoDev can seek out trending issues within: – Backup Exec blog comments – Backup Exec forum discussion – Community Feed 49
  50. 50. Conclusion
  51. 51. In Summary • Communication has changed forever (global and instant) • Our jobs will never be the same • We can drive value into our companies by becoming Knowledge Integrators • We‟d be wise to proactively seek any skills we yet need 51
  52. 52. Thank You! Tristan David Bishop tristan_bishop@symantec.com (321) 696-3618 Twitter: @KnowledgeBishop SYMANTEC PROPRIETARY/CONFIDENTIAL – INTERNAL USE ONLY Copyright © 2008 Symantec Corporation. All rights reserved.

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