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This Is the Future We Talked about


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This Is the Future We Talked about: Today’s Tech Comm Trends and the New Workplace

We're seeing more changes in technical communication today than at any time in memory. We’re living in the future that we talked about just a few years ago.

Explore the landscape of the new world of tech comm, and discover the skills and understanding you’ll need in order to thrive in it. Audiences expect to connect emotionally with the technical content they read, so we’ll talk about how we can create and nurture those connections. Audiences expect to access content on mobile devices – as well as in all of the traditional formats – so we’ll find out how to develop content that meets those expectations. We’ll also discuss the need to demonstrate value by creating content that contributes directly to the business’s bottom line.

We’ll spend much of our time examining the new tech comm workplace, where you’ll likely work as part of several distributed teams on projects that are increasingly shorter and more focused.

To thrive in this environment you’ll need to master, or at least be conversant in:
- Structured authoring, which makes content more flexible: more adaptable to different mobile formats, and more easily arranged into different packages for different audiences.
- Content strategy, the key to seeing content as a unified whole: not as separate books, brochures, and web pages, but as information that supports the objectives of the business.
- Information architecture, the tactics for carrying out the content strategy. Even if you never hold the job title, you'll want to be able to ask the kinds of questions an information architect would ask.

Published in: Business, Technology
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This Is the Future We Talked about

  1. 1. This Is the Future We Talked about Larry Kunz April 16, 2014 #techcomm #future Today’s Tech Comm Trends and the New Workplace
  2. 2. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz What We’ll Cover Today • Welcome to the future • Trends in the Tech Comm profession • Today’s Tech Comm workplace • Today’s technical writer “The future is now” (source: ESPN)
  3. 3. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz Welcome to the Future If this is the future, why does it look so much like the past?
  4. 4. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz Today’s Tech Comm Trends • Content as a business asset • Technical writing as an emotional experience • Breaking down barriers (collaboration) • Going mobile • A new definition of quality
  5. 5. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz Content as a Business Asset Content • Is more than just words and pictures • Needs rules for its creation and governance • Must be aligned to business goals
  6. 6. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz An Emotional Experience Your readers want to feel… • Confident: They can do the job • In the know: You’re confiding in them • That they’re part of a community Source: Randy Conley (
  7. 7. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz Breaking Down Barriers Many people contribute content From within the organization: • Tech pubs • Marketing • Tech support From outside: • Blogs • Forums • Aftermarket books
  8. 8. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz Going Mobile Fast, easy access to content – from everywhere • Adaptive content: compatible with the devices on which it’s read • Responsive content: changes format to fit the screen it’s displayed on • Smart content: based on your location and/or preferences By 2015 tablets will outsell laptops and desktops combined. – Gartner
  9. 9. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz A New Definition of Quality “Good, not perfect” • “Just in Time” development • Flexible, responsive • Short product cycles (sprints) • Frequent updates 57% of software tech writers work in agile. - WritersUA 2014 Tools & Skills survey
  10. 10. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz Tomorrow’s Today’s Workplace • Knowing the value of what we do • Content strategy • Collaboration • Structured authoring
  11. 11. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz The Value of What We Do • Strategic, not tactical thinking • Making the business case • Either – Cost avoidance, or – Revenue enhancement
  12. 12. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz The Value of What We Do Examples: • Cost avoidance – Good docs result in fewer support calls • Revenue enhancement – Good docs help attract new customers Making your business case: Content Strategy 101 (O’Keefe & Pringle)
  13. 13. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz Content Strategy …aligning content to business goals, analysis, and modeling - Rahel Bailie Recommendations about how to create, deliver, and govern web content - Kristina Halvorson
  14. 14. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz Content Strategy Is your content: Tech Pubs Marketing and all that other stuff ?
  15. 15. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz Content Strategy Is your content: Blown out of the water by other people’s content?
  16. 16. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz Content Strategy Your content: • Truly functions as a business asset • Is managed in a strategic, coordinated way • Delivers a unified, trustworthy message
  17. 17. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz Content Strategy
  18. 18. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz Collaboration • Breaking down barriers • Content from many sources • Cultivating trust across the organization
  19. 19. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz Collaboration New roles…New opportunities • Content curator • Community builder • Content strategist Source: Anne Gentle
  20. 20. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz Structured Authoring Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball. Jacques Barzun
  21. 21. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz Structured Authoring Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of Tech Comm had better learn structured authoring. Larry Kunz
  22. 22. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz Structured Authoring • Not just a new way to organize the same old content • Employs semantic elements • Separates the task of formatting from the task of writing • Creates value through – Portability – Efficiency – Consistency
  23. 23. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz Tomorrow’s Today’s Technical Writer • Trained in a variety of skills • Savvy about the ways of business • Flexible
  24. 24. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz Your Guiding Principles • Content has business value • Content should be managed strategically And one to rule them all: • As a technical communicator, you’re as qualified as anyone!
  25. 25. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz Bibliography • Conversation and Community Anne Gentle • The Language of Content Strategy Scott Abel & Rahel Bailie • Content Strategy 101 Sarah O'Keefe & Alan Pringle • Content Strategy Rahel Bailie & Noz Urbina • DITA 101 Ann Rockley, Steve Manning & Charles Cooper • DITA blog articles on Techwhirl [Feb-Apr 2014] Jacquie Samuels
  26. 26. April 16, 2014 @larry_kunz Stay in Touch! Larry Kunz Twitter: @larry_kunz