Building information architecture teams in resource-challenged times


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To build effective information architecture teams and advance your information experience strategy, focus on business-critical work, sell the right story to your stakeholders, use metrics that matter, and organize yourself for success.

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  • Building information architecture teams in resource-challenged times

    1. 1. IBM Total Information ExperienceBuilding effectiveinformation architecture (IA) teamsin resource-challenged timesAlyson RileySenior Content StrategistIBM Total Information ExperienceOffice of the IBM CIO(and my boss is in the audience) May 2013STC Summit 2013—Happy 60thbirthday, STC!© IBM Corporation 2013. All Rights Reserved
    2. 2. IBM Total Information Experience2About AlysonTechnical communicator since 1995Areas of expertiseContent strategyContent metrics—the business value of contentStrategic information architecture (I organize myclosets for fun)Interaction design for content delivery vehicles,and interactive contentInformation and product usability, from analysisthrough validationUser-centered processes for content strategyand scenario-driven information architectureSenior Content Strategist on IBM’s corporateTotal Information Experience team (in the IBMCIO organization)Intercom columnist (with Andrea Ames) of TheStrategic
    3. 3. IBM Total Information ExperienceJust so you can’t say I didn’t warn youMost of this presentation is going to be about:1. Metrics2. Stakeholder managementTry not to be disappointed, OK?
    4. 4. IBM Total Information ExperienceA little context-setting…Where do you live in this picture?
    5. 5. IBM Total Information ExperienceIdentify problems & opportunities(who cares?)
    6. 6. IBM Total Information ExperienceYou can stop listening after this chart, if you want.“Nice to have” is dead.If its not business-critical, no one will care.If you want to build a high-functioning IA team, you haveto:Prove the work is business-criticalProve the business value of content
    7. 7. IBM Total Information ExperienceWHY?Look for the “Why?” behind the strategyChange, challenge, or opportunity in the marketplace?Innovation in the IT landscape?Trend or sea-change in financial realities or global dynamics?Why  what mattersStrategic priorities vs. point-in-time tacticsInvestment vs. legacyRevenue generation vs. cost centerUse systems thinking to find opportunities to add valueContribute to market plays, innovation, or customer requirementsContribute to the priorities of the enterprise, business unit, or productProve that your results are something that customers wantProve that your strategy supports business strategyToward business-critical
    8. 8. IBM Total Information ExperienceTake a system-level look at the problem spaceA generalized view of IBM’s product lifecyclecontent
    9. 9. IBM Total Information ExperienceTake a system-level look at your “users”A layered view of “the client”Are you thinking aboutyour clients and their needsholistically?
    10. 10. IBM Total Information ExperienceTake a system-level look at product performanceAskSupportWhat areclients callingabout? What’sthe worstproblem to fix?What trends doyou see?Ask SalesWhat does theproduct look likein real clientenvironments?What’s thehardest part ofyour job? Whatdo clients likeleast? How dowe measure upagainstcompetition?Ask Product managementWhat customer issues are you tracking?What’s happening in the market? Whatkeeps you up at night?AskMarketingAre messagesperforming asexpected in themarketplace?What arepeople saying?What areconversionrates like?your productAsk UI designHow well do currentofferings map toclient requirements?
    11. 11. IBM Total Information ExperienceTake a system-level look at content performance
    12. 12. IBM Total Information Experience(another way of saying what the previous chart said)See all this?Yeah, contentmakes thishappen. Howeffective isyour content?Graphic lifted from Aiden Creative Digital Marketing Agency
    13. 13. IBM Total Information ExperienceContent drives stuff that the business cares about.Analyze the system to findbusiness problems and business opportunities.Make your case for what you want to accomplish.And get ready to prove it.
    14. 14. IBM Total Information ExperienceProving it(tell the right story)
    15. 15. IBM Total Information ExperienceFirst: Who?Business peopleThis group funds us.We need them.We must stop trying toeducate them and startspeaking their language.We speak their languageby proving value usingbusiness metrics thatmatter in the marketplace.Unless you can make adirect connection betweenyour metrics and themetrics that drivebusiness, you will fail.Content peopleThis group influences our success.We need them.Many kinds of content people willhelp implement an informationarchitecture.Content people tend to reflect thevalues of where they live. Even“kindred spirits” can have widelydifferent goals and metrics.Identify common ground byspeaking to what matters most tothese people, too.
    16. 16. IBM Total Information ExperienceA testWho are we speaking to when we talk about things like this? Site visitors Page hits Visitor location Most popular pages Least popular pages Bounce rate Time spent on page Referrers Search terms Etc.
    17. 17. IBM Total Information ExperienceTechnical communicators need to tell a better storyBecome a story-tellerDefine the right visionTell a compelling story that inspires people to buy into your vision.Evolve from good stories to best storiesWhat makes a story true? Facts—things you can prove.What makes a story compelling? It speaks to what matters most.What matters most? Depends on your audience. Duh, right?Prove value with metricsValue is in the eye of the beholder.Know your beholders.Use metrics that target actual decision-makers.Figure out what your actual decision-makers value—their metrics forsuccess.Cold hard truth: Your actual decision-makers are probably businesspeople—executives and others who hold the purse-strings.
    18. 18. IBM Total Information ExperienceSell your story to a business audienceThe metrics weuse to creategood IA do notresonate withmost outside ourdiscipline:Page hits resonatewith us.Sales leadsresonate withbusiness.You need an IA’sintuition to knowhow contentsupports businessmetrics. Mostbusiness peopledon’t have thatintuition.Examplebusiness metrics:Revenue streamsSales leadsCost per leadCustomer satisfactionCustomer loyaltyReturn on investment (ROI)Time to valueMarket shareMindshareExamplecontent metrics:Site visitorsPage hitsVisitor locationMost popular pagesLeast popular pagesBounce rateTime spent on pageReferrersSearch terms
    19. 19. IBM Total Information ExperienceBut don’t neglect that content audienceWhere do their goals align with yours? build bridges!Where do their goals conflict with yours? build businesscases!Use metrics to craft a true story that:Shows problems and opportunities that the content team cares aboutMaps in high-priority ways to their goals for contentDiverges from their current goals in ways that would increase theirvalue to sponsors and stakeholders
    20. 20. IBM Total Information ExperienceBridge the business world and the content worldTie IA metrics to the metrics that make a difference in the marketDo the hard work: Research how content influences the metricsthat are most important to the specific people you need forsuccess.Start your research with these hints:How does content speed usersuccess and time-to-value?direct link tocustomer valueHow does content drivepurchase decisions?direct link to therevenue streamHow does content impactproduct quality?direct link tocustomerloyaltyHow does content influencecustomer satisfaction?direct link toROIHow does content shape clients’perceptions of your company?direct link tomindshare
    21. 21. IBM Total Information ExperienceMetrics mapping: A simple exampleStakeholder BusinessmetricsContent teams ContentmetricsMarketingExecutive ROI Cost per lead Campaignperformance Conversion metrics Web team Social team Event team Web traffic Click-throughs Likes and shares Conversions Collateral distributed Cost per unit producedSalesExecutive Viable leads Sales growth Productperformance Sales enablement Education & training Beta programs Proofs of Concept (PoCs) to sale Number of classes Beta program participants Cost per unit producedSupportExecutive Call volume Call length Customer sat. Ticket deflection Web support team Call center team Amount of web informationproduced Volume of calls reduced Time-to-resolution reduced Cost per unit producedDevelopmentExecutive Dev cost Market share Lines of code Compliance Quality and test Technicaldocumentation team Developers whopublish whitepapersand case studies Product communityforum team Lines of text, number of pages, etc. Cost per unit produced Web traffic Number of forum participants Sentiment analysis
    22. 22. IBM Total Information ExperienceSet business-savvy, metrics-based IA goalsBusiness metrics Sample IA metrics Sample IA goalsPurchase decisions(revenue) Reach—visits, etc. Engagement—referrals,etc.Contribute to revenue streamthrough referrals fromtechnical content that becomesales leads.Product quality(customer loyalty) Reach—visits, etc. Engagement—referrals,etc.Contribute to product qualitythrough by simplifying theamount of content in the userexperience.Customer satisfaction(ROI) Web traffic Direct feedback Ratings Shares (social)Create high value content thatspeeds customer time tosuccess.Perceptions ofcompany (mindshare) Sentiment—nature ofsocial dialogue, etc. Direct feedbackCreate high quality, highlyusable content delivered in anelegant informationexperience.
    23. 23. IBM Total Information ExperienceTelling a better story: An IBM exampleShameless ad:Watch for the Mayissue of STC’sIntercom for mynew article onproving thebusiness value ofcontent (co-authored withAndrea Ames &Eileen Jones)We’re learning to tell a better story for a business audienceWe conducted a survey from with clients and prospective clients—here’sthe hot-off-the-press data:
    24. 24. IBM Total Information ExperienceMetrics—the most effective weapon in your arsenalProblem: Metrics have gotten a bad rapNumbers can be hard for word peopleThe right numbers are hard for everyoneGetting metrics to work for you requires a significant shift in thinkingSolution: Rethink metricsMetrics are another form of audience analysis (who cares about what?)Metrics are another form of usability testing (what works for whom?)Motivation for change: Metrics are a powerful tool for getting what youwant (and making sure you want the right things)Metrics transform opinion into factMetrics remove emotion from analysisStrategize with metrics: Use metrics at every phaseBeginning: identify opportunity, prove the strategy is rightMiddle: show incremental progress, course-correctEnd: prove value and earn investment for the future
    25. 25. IBM Total Information ExperienceEthosYour authority, credibility,professionalism, and authenticityPathosEmotional appeal, vivid imagery,creative envisioning, imaginingLogosLogic, data, clarity, evidence—either inductive (bottom-up) ordeductive (top-down) reasoningSell: Tell a compelling story for each audienceUse metrics to: Speak to the analytical mind Tell the “black and white” partof your strategy Articulate facts that prove thatyour strategy is a good oneUse vision to: Speak to the heart Inspire people to believe Craft a narrative thatresonates and lingers longafter you’ve left the roomUse expert communication to: Prove that you own the space Provide powerful evidence thatyou are worthy of trust andinvestment Build a network of influencers
    26. 26. IBM Total Information ExperienceOrganize for success(read: it takes a village)
    27. 27. IBM Total Information ExperienceManage your best political asset: StakeholdersWhose agendas do you need tounderstand to be successful?Which influencers can help you? What are their agendas?Which influencers could block you? What are theiragendas?How can you help your influencers be successful?How can you map your success to business priorities andmetrics?Manage your stakeholders intentionally:Their top concernsTheir metricsThe level of support you desire from themWhat role they play (or you’d like them to play) in your workThe actions that you want them to take (and their priority)The messages that you need to craft for them to enable theoutcome you want—Rachel ThompsonStakeholder Management:Planning StakeholderCommunication. MindTools.Web. 12 April 2013.Free stakeholdermanagement worksheethere:“Stakeholdermanagement is criticalto the success of everyproject in everyorganization … Byengaging the rightpeople in the right wayin your project, you canmake a big difference toits success...and to your career.”
    28. 28. IBM Total Information ExperienceManeuvering people is not necessarily evilTo make IA happen, you have to master politicsThink of it as a game—moving pieces on a boardYou can’t touch the pieces directly to move them where you want themYou have to inspire them to moveYou inspire them by figuring out what they care about and helping themsucceedIt doesn’t have to be an evil gameLook for win-win alliances and opportunitiesDiscover and play to people’s strengthsEnjoy finding kindred spirits in the game—don’t get bogged down by pieces onthe board that refuse to moveEnjoy the wins—be sure to share the rewardsLearn from the losses—keep your eye on the end game on not on emotionalsetbacksMake smart compromises for the greater good—but remember who you are
    29. 29. IBM Total Information ExperienceBuild a community-based model for IA initiativesExecutive sponsorBusiness unit sponsorsIA thought leaders fromeach domainor departmentIA teams fromeach domainor departmentinfrastructure gurusgraphic designcontent marketingproduct managementNetwork ofsupportive friendsinteraction designengineeringwriterseditors
    30. 30. IBM Total Information ExperienceCommunity-based model for IA teamsDefine prioritiesWhich common metrics can we unite around?Which metrics will we be measured against?Which common metrics tell our story best?Take first steps toward impactWhat mission unites us?What small, measurable projects could we do together to buildrelationships and demonstrate incremental progress?How can we crawl—walk—run toward value?Communicate constantly—up, down, acrossTake interim measurementsMaintain sponsor interestCourse-correct as needed
    31. 31. IBM Total Information ExperienceDon’t do it like this(embarrassing stories from the trenches)
    32. 32. IBM Total Information ExperienceStory 1: In which I fail to use metrics intelligentlyWhat I didWhat I should havedoneWhat I sawWhat I should haveseenA content producer working on acertain type of content is troublesome: Doesn’t get the big picture Doesn’t understand IA Is belligerent Is territorial and siloedArgued! About content quality—redundancy,inconsistency About an elegant user experienceHer success is measured differentlythan my success! Her success metrics: increasevolume of content; promote strongbrand identity for her team My success metrics: simplify theinformation experience; deliver a“one IBM” information experienceWhat’s behind her metrics? Find away to map my metrics to hers andevolve her vision: Increase volume of content Increase impact of content (reuseinternally; visibility externally) Promote strong brand identity forher team  Prove team value
    33. 33. IBM Total Information ExperienceStory 2: In which I fail to manage a problem personalityWhat I didWhat I should havedoneWhat I sawWhat I should haveseenA writer on a “legacy” product wantedto keep writing books forever: Doesn’t understand value ofmodular content Doesn’t value reuse Doesn’t get DITAGot frustrated—argued, yet again! Internal efficiency metrics External experience metrics Industry trendsShe’s afraid! Of failure with the new technology Of losing her eminence andposition as subject matter expertwithin her organization Of losing her jobGive her a path to future security thatresonates with her values: We have these problems—currentapproaches don’t solve them! We need a solution or we all fail I need your help You’re a thought leader We can’t do this without youStart together on a small project todemonstrate value and earn trust.
    34. 34. IBM Total Information ExperienceStory 3: In which I think “of course we should do this”What I didWhat I should havedoneWhat I sawWhat I should haveseenThis is an obvious solution to anobvious problem. We must do this.And we are a happy family: Same company Same vision Same goalsRan meetings.Kept agendas and minutes.Wondered why I was the one doing allthe work.Got frustrated.The problem wasn’t obvious.The solution wasn’t obvious.The team was giving me lip service.The team wasn’t a team.The sponsors weren’t engaged.Socialize and test the shared-ness ofthe vision: Collaborate on a plan andformalize buy-in (will you put yourmoney where your mouth is?) Disseminate responsibility (will youstand up and own this?) Communicate progress & impact
    35. 35. IBM Total Information ExperienceStory 4: In which I am too abstractWhat I didWhat I should havedoneWhat I sawWhat I should haveseenA team of strategic informationarchitects from different business unitswithin IBM who each: See big picture Think abstractly Use modelsKept trying to explain (read: forgedahead blindly, not realizing thatanything was wrong). But… Noted lack of progress Watched participation plummet Felt awkwardMeeting conversations were weird: I spent too much time explaining The IAs discussed our purposeand work in ways that didn’t makesense.Sponsors didn’t see the work: The IAs aren’t socializing it Realize that few people can start atthe abstract level. Find a small, measurable, concreteproject to work on. Work together =learn together. Generate team results—then worktogether to abstract out the keyfindings.
    36. 36. IBM Total Information ExperienceAnd that’s all she wrote. Any questions?thank you