Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Need for Content Curation

This blog post has been originally published on the Big Men on Content blog. 
Most content libraries start great. You pick a repository, populate it with some initial content, include decent metadata, establish ways for people to add more content, set some expiration policies, and voilĂ  – you have your sales library, your marketing assets library, or your library of product information.
The library is easy to use and navigate. It was built by a small group of people who had a clear, shared concept of how to organize it. The users can find what they need and everybody is happy. We have another content management success story under our belt!
Now, let’s fast-forward a few months. People are regularly contributing additional artifacts to the library and the library’s growing. The team that has built the library has moved on to build something else. But that’s OK; they have done their work. The library is still well organized and everyone can find what they need, when they need it. This is content management at its best. Everybody is still happy.
A couple of years later, the library has grown substantially. Nobody really remembers the original structure or how content was to be stored, tagged, and classified. People are saving artifacts based on their view of the structure and everyone has a different view. Nobody has time to add proper metadata to content assets – most content is stored without metadata or with “lazy” metadata. The original project team has had the foresight to set default expiration rules for content but when content assets come up for review, there is no time for it and everything is being kept without ever deleting anything.
The library is no longer well organized. Nobody can easily navigate it and every search yields pages and pages of results. Hardly anyone is happy with the library. The library is now seen as this dreaded place where content goes to die. The users need something better to be productive. They need something simple, easy to navigate, not this bloated repository full of junk. The business blames IT and IT blames the vendor.
Eventually, they decide to build a new library…
What has gone wrong? Well, it wasn’t the content management system, no matter which vendor you chose. It was the process. More precisely, it was the lack of process. The library was built without a content curation process in place. Curation would ensure that somebody decides what to keep in the library and what not. Curation would also ensure that every new artifact is added the right way – in the right location and with the right metadata. Curation would also ensure that the structure, rules, metadata, and policies are evolving to keep up with the changing requirements of the organization.
Some of the curation processes can be automated and some of them may require manual work. But without curation, a successful content management deployment can quickly become a digital landfill.