The State of the Technical Communication Industry: tcworld India 2013 Keynote Address


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The keynote address, delivered February 21, 2013 at tcworld India conference, Bangalore, India. The presentation provides a summary of the 2012 Technical Communication Industry Benchmarking Survey produced by The Content Wrangler. The survey aimed to capture the current methods, standards and tools used -- as well as future plans of -- the technical documentation and training departments of large, global, content-heavy organizations.

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The State of the Technical Communication Industry: tcworld India 2013 Keynote Address

  1. The Content Wrangler 2012 TechnicalCommunication Industry Benchmarking SurveyAbout the survey not scientific, but meaningful loaded with real-world anecdotes 0ver 1100 respondents 500+ large, content-heavy firms primarily North American/EU firms
  2. The Content Wrangler 2012 TechnicalCommunication Industry Benchmarking SurveyFindings overview agile documentation development advanced documentation practices complexity drives innovation lack of strategy causes problems
  3. documentation development methodsAgile approaches45% attempt to leverage agile• majority of technical communication departments have not adopted agile methods• those that do so struggle with challenges• challenges: organizational silos, lack of governance, differing approacheswaterfall is the most commonly used documentation development approach 5
  4. complexity drives adoption ofAdvanced practicesDifficulty is the driver• highly configurable hardware and software products drive adoption• multi-channel, multi-device publishing drives adoption• dynamic publishing, localization, translation, and personalization are also strong driversthe more challenging it is to develop documentation, the more likely advanced practices are adopted
  5. advanced practices most often adopted to documentConfigurable productsEfficiency is key• configurable products are difficult to document• organizations that use XML are better prepared to respond to threats and new opportunities• challenges increase when content is multi-lingual• challenges increase with mobile device adoption and as companies attempt to deliver apps, eBookscustomer expectations are driving this innovation; mobile computing also plays significant role
  6. What iscontent strategy?
  7. you can’t reach your goals without aContent StrategyA definition from Rahel Ann BailieContent strategy deals with the planning aspects of managingcontent throughout its lifecycle, and includes aligning content tobusiness goals, analysis, and modeling. It influences thedevelopment, production, presentation, evaluation, measurement,and sunsetting of content, including governance.what content strategy is not is the implementation side
  8. The Content Wrangler 2012 TechnicalCommunication Industry Benchmarking SurveyA look at the findings structured content, XML and DITA content reuse strategy customer-created content leveraging communities top software products used
  9. XML is driving operational efficiencyStructured content44% create structured XML• 81% leverage DITA• 30% use custom DTDs/schemas• 16% use DocBook12% of the companies that produce structured content use all three
  10. Significant savings in time and moneyContent reusebetween documentationand training content• 5% have done so in order to innovate or to enable them to respond to threats or opportunities• reuse most common between related document or content sets (eg user guides, help, training)the unexpected benefit is unanticipated reuse
  11. meth odsCom mon ent reuseof cont
  12. One of the most convenient, but problematic methodsCopy and paste reuseMost error prone, inefficient, costly method• Content is actually cloned; each copied instance exists on its own (disconnected from source)• Unable to be easily located, retrieved, updatedCopy and paste is quite natural, but not a best practice
  13. The most common form of content reuseManual content reuseAuthors locate content, retrieve it, reuse it• Manual reuse is best accomplished with a CMS• Helps organizations rapidly reconfigure reusable content into new information products• Provides authors with most flexibility, but is problematic because it puts burden of reuse on authorsIf authors lack motivation, are unaware content exists, or have trouble finding it, reuse does not occur
  14. want a free chapter aboutContent Reuse?email me! We can help. We do it every day for clients around the globe. The Content Wrangler can help you deliver the right information, to the right people, at the right time, on the right device, in the right format and language. If we can’t, we’ll find someone who can. Your content is your most valuable business asset. Let us show you how to manage it efficiently and effectively.
  15. Who is responsible for monitoring support communitiesOnline communities53% provide online support community• 32% rely on customer service to monitor activity• 20% distribute monitoring responsibility across roles• 10% employ dedicated community managerOnline support communities and documentation influence customer purchasing decisions
  16. Some organizations are leveraging the power of the crowd to create, update, improve documentationCustomer-created content20% allow customers to edit documentation• 8% allow ‘trusted customers’ to edit and publish content without formal review• Level of scrutiny is directly linked to the type of content being produced and the liability or risk associated with allowing customers to edit and publish content• 17% allow customers to create new contentMore than one-third of companies that allow customers to create content encourage them to do so
  17. Organizations use reactions from customers to improve documentationCustomer feedback and ratingsBenefits of feedback and ratings• 47% improved customer support scores• 17% improved documentation quality• 16% support call deflection• 13% reduced support call volume• 12% reduced average call handling timeAdditional benefits: Spotting problems with product design; reduction in negative feedback / complaints
  18. Tools used vary by the type of work being performed and the industry sector servedSoftware used to create documentation THE TOP TEN MOST USED SOFTWARE PRODUCTS 1. Adobe FrameMaker 41% 2. TechSmith Snagit 35% 3. Microsoft Word 35% 4. Adobe Acrobat Pro 28% 5. Adobe Captivate 20% 6. Adobe RoboHelp 19% 7. TechSmith Camtasia 12% 8. XMetaL Author 11% 9. Microsoft PowerPoint 11% 10. Adobe Photoshop 11%
  19. The Content Wrangler 2012 TechnicalCommunication Industry Benchmarking SurveyInnovations planned for future moving to structured content adopting XML/DITA component content management video documentation 26
  20. what they’re planning for 2013-2014Future InnovationsXML and DITA21% of companies surveyed plan to move to structured XMLby 2014; the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) isthe XML schema of choice.doing so is believed to better prepare companies for the future
  21. what they’re planning for 2013-2014Future InnovationsComponent content14% of companies surveyed plan to adopt a componentcontent management system designed specifically to managemodular, structured XML content.component content management systems are built to support multi-channel publishing
  22. what they’re planning for 2013-2014Future InnovationsVideo documentation11% of companies surveyed plan to adopt videodocumentation and training content, usually to augmentexisting documentation, support, and training purposes.customer expectations are driving this innovation; mobile computing also plays significant role
  23. STRUCTURED CONTENT 2012 TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION INDUSTRY BENCHMARKING SURVEY 44% of companies create structured XML content SUMMARY RESULTS Agile documentation adoption DITA slow, not always successful 81% of companies that The majority of technical documentation and training create structured departments have not adopted an agile approach to creatingwant a copy of the content use DITA and publishing content. Agile methods are based on iterative and incremental cycles that promote adaptive planning, ?Summary Results evolutionary development, and flexible responses to change. OTHER FLAVORS While 45% of companies surveyed claim to apply agile 30% use custom XML DTDs development principles to TechComm projects, few do it successfully. Typical challenges include organizational silos, 16% use DocBook lack of governance, differing approaches. The waterfall development method is the dominant approach in use today. Biggest challenge is the lack of content strategy Our benchmarking survey • Inability to effectively reuse The next biggest challenges: uncovered a wide variety of content challenges facing companies that • Lack of governance • Creation of inconsistent, produce technical documentation inaccurate, or mediocre quality • Lack of time, money andtcworld india and training content. The biggest content resources challenge identified was the lack of a formal content strategy. • Producing content of unknown customer value Commonly cited symptoms of • Process problems and productionwill make it available to you organizations lacking a content bottlenecks strategy include: •along with this slide deck WHAT INNOVATIONS ARE YOU PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE?after the event 21% 14% 11% Moving to topic-based content models like the Darwin Information Typing The adoption of a component content management system is the second Creating video documentation and training content is the third most Architecture is the most common most common innovation planned for common innovation planned for the innovation planned for the future— the future—cited by 14% of companies. future—cited by 11% of companies. cited by 21% of companies. DITA/XML CCMS VIDEO
  24. Join The Content Wrangler• website ~• facebook ~ thecontentwranglercommunity• linkedin ~ thecontentwranglercommunity• twitter ~ @contentwrangler• phone +1 415.857.2235• email