Content Delivery has been a hot topic in 2019: conference tracks, professional literature, new vendor solutions, tech companies actively bidding for Content Delivery Platforms (CDP), it seems that content delivery is building a solid reputation in the tech doc market and gaining general acceptance. Is it so? Questions and (surprising) answers with Fabrice Lacroix.
Fabrice, 2019 seems to have been the year of general awareness for Content Delivery. You have extensively met with tech doc professionals and industry experts, with customers and users of Fluid Topics, with companies in all industries looking for such solutions, do you think Content Delivery has reached a general acceptance in the world of tech doc?
I would not exactly call it “general acceptance”. Content Delivery has certainly attained a good level of awareness on the market: this is quite obvious when one is visiting the biggest industry conferences both in Europe and North America, where most vendors either offer (so-called?) Content Delivery extensions to their core offering, or partner with CDP pure players. Strolling down the show floor alleys, you meet professionals who realize that their current setup for tech doc, be it a longtime-used software solution or an in-house development, is running into limitations they need to overcome. As far as the promise of Content Delivery is concerned – and understood – , most solution-seekers clearly acknowledge that they won’t be able to reach the expected goal with home-made developments or custom add-ons, and recognize that they cannot bridge on their own the technical gap of IA and Deep Learning, necessary to power real dynamic content delivery. In that sense, Content Delivery is well recognized as a real value-add solution. But what is not so clear to them is the precise definition of what Content Delivery entails.
So there is general awareness on Content Delivery, but no shared understanding? Where does this come from?
First, from the fact that companies are looking either for a replacement or for supplementing what they currently have. They are trying to improve the scope and usage of their current setup, and what they call Content Delivery is often the fragment they identify as the missing part of their system. For example, a company that has a fully functioning authoring tool but that experiences difficulties in publishing tech content into the corporate Web portal will put this under the roof of Dynamic Content Delivery, while what they need is a Web CMS. In summary, the concept of Content Delivery doesn’t yet carry a strong enough identity and doesn’t advertise its distinctive value clearly enough to the market to infer a general understanding. Second, the clear communication of this value is made complex by the lack of “normality”, of “commonality”, induced by the variety of use cases.
And the variety of contents that goes with it, I guess?
Absolutely. Both are tightly linked, at least in the understanding of the users. The definition of content is highly variable: think of the range of possibilities that exist between micro content and large static pdf, and that’s only text content… Media, firmware, audio, parts, to only list those, are drastically different, and the use cases may range from chatbot interactions to device-contextual information delivery for field engineers!
So, beyond general awareness, the next step would be to bring this understanding to the market?
Yes, a Content Delivery Platform is a powerful solution that reinvents how producers and consumers of technical documentation interact, and not just an increment to current tech doc portals. This being said, the proven value of Content Delivery is illustrative of clear, representative use cases that demonstrate the full capability and the transformative impact of such solution. Reaching this understanding is a good objective for Content Delivery in 2020. Stay tuned…