Technical communicators and the product lifecycle (adobe day lavacon 2013 j gollner)


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Joe Gollner of Gnostyx Reseeach covers how Tech Communicators must dovetail with the product lifecycle. This sounds simpler than it is, due to long held habits in the corporate world. Joe covers how Peter Drucker foresaw our current cycles back in 1954 and shares examples of how and why disconnected "silos" of content exist within the same organization. This is a highly original and engaging approach to a topic that is seldom addressed this successfully.

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Technical communicators and the product lifecycle (adobe day lavacon 2013 j gollner)

  1. 1. The Technical Communicator within the Integrated Product Lifecycle Copyright © Joe Gollner 2013 Joe Gollner Gnostyx Research Inc. @joegollner
  2. 2. The Facts of Business Life A Global Economy calls for Continuous process improvement Maximized automation Dynamically tailored products Localized delivery & support Reconfigurable supply chains This Demands Standardized parts Flexible & dynamic assembly Peter F. Drucker The Practice of Management (1954) for products, services & content
  3. 3. XML Behind the Scenes Extensible Markup Language World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Recommendation A simplification of ISO8879 Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) to enable portable web data Massively influential on • • • • • • • Technology interoperability Electronic data interchange Supply chain automation Internet commerce Social media integration eBook publishing Responsive web design… Absolutely Central to the way business is conducted
  4. 4. This is not a Secret Thomas L. Friedman in his book The World is Flat specifically focused on the levelling effects of XML XML Enabled supply chain automation The drove the ability to massively distribute manufacturing & distribution (2005)
  5. 5. De Ac qu isi tio n What does this mean for Products? e liv ry ce an rn Op er ve Go at io n Product Strategy
  6. 6. No Trade- offs Allowed 
  7. 7. What does this mean for Knowledge Workers? Specialization is the order of the day Not a bad thing Not something that can be reversed But It does pose us challenges in how we communicate (1993)
  8. 8. And what does this mean for Communicators? There is a new and more challenging communication problem to be solved Not only do we need to make technology understandable to users…. We need to make technology understandable in the first place (1932)
  9. 9. A Bigger Step than it may appear…
  10. 10. The Problem of Silos
  11. 11. Uncoordinated Content Silos Marketing Whitepapers Engineering Specifications Product Mgt Requirements TechComm Documentation Sales Sales Collateral Training Course Materials Support Knowledge Base Uncoordinated Customer Experience Sound Familiar?
  12. 12. Case Study: Massively Integrated Systems
  13. 13. Agile meets Lean Market-Leading Software Company Embraced Agile Methods Embarked on aggressive innovation Ran straight into the complexity of their own product & of their customers’ environments Agile success led to general failure
  14. 14. Specialization undermines itself Specialist departments, teams, individuals find it harder and harder to communicate to each other Don’t understand each others’ Language Goals Constraints Approaches It shows
  15. 15. Some Questions Arise
  16. 16. Old School Engineering The Roots of Lean Training Within Industry (TWI) World War II initiative to mobilize US industry All about communication Cold War engineering was powered by these practices Example: Avro Arrow CF105 Dissipated in the 1980s….
  17. 17. Current Practices are not Sustainable
  18. 18. The Answer Content is placed in the center of the Integrated Product Lifecycle Content Lifecycle used to connect all parts of the product lifecycle
  19. 19. Remind me: What is Content Again? Content is potential information It is what we create in order to produce • Effective information • Effective processes • Effective products It is a multitude of pieces that come together including automation components INFORMATION CONTENT This is important
  20. 20. Why is this Important? Inukshuk-shaped communicators Two horizontal areas of specialization • • Writing, Illustrating,… Usability, Analysis,… Two technical fields of specialization • • Product discipline Publishing technology… “I tell my people to be well-versed in two technological fields and in two functional areas, like design and marketing. Even in an engineering-oriented company like ours, you can't get ahead without the ability to foresee developments in the market.” Epson executive quoted by Nonaka & Takeuchi
  21. 21. Ascendant Specializations to Choose From Information Analyst Business Analyst Taxonomist UX Designer Usability Specialist Content Engineer Cybrarian / Metador Social Media Facilitator Analytics Researcher Content Strategist,… Product Certification becoming more and more common as an expectation
  22. 22. Is Adaptation an Option? No – Not Really Competitive pressures make re-integrating the product lifecycle mandatory Technical communicators will make themselves a visible part of the solution or…
  23. 23. Making Connections Joe Gollner Gnostyx Research Inc. Twitter: @joegollner Blog: The Content Philosopher