It’s 2017. Not 1997. So…..

Why do we still dump information in ponderous PDFs?

Why do we still work in unproductive silos?

Why do we still make content a last-minute, subservient consideration to design?

Why do we still pump out millions of content assets that are not effective?

Why do we still blast the same content to all of our audiences or customers, regardless of their actual needs?

Why do we still not understand the return on our investment in content?

For years and years, we aspired to connect the right customers with the right content in the right format and touchpoint at the right time.  For years and years, we hit obstacles such as data quality, personalization, and content automation technology lagging behind our aspirations. We have been stuck in a cocoon of delays, indefinitely held in an awkward state somewhere between caterpillar and butterfly.

But, now, data and automation are catching up. Digital transformation is here. The content future we’ve waited (and waited and waited for) can be now if—and this is a big IF—we want it. If we want it enough to shift our mindset and our stakeholders’ mindsets. If we want it enough to create an ambitious new content vision with content as a C-level a priority. If we want it enough to change our ways of working or to evolve our roles.

I’m tired of seeing so many organizations stuck in the content equivalent of cocooned caterpillars, not fulfilling their potential. More important than my frustration is mounting evidence that a company cannot linger in that transitional state endlessly. 52% of the fortune 500 have disappeared since 2000. The life expectancy of a Fortune 500 company used to be 75 years, and now it is 15 years. Why? Agreement is widespread that the disappearing businesses failed—through lack of trying or misguided efforts—to transform into digital businesses. They didn’t become butterflies.

What used to be delays in taking content to the next level are now excuses, a misleadingly warm cocoon insulating us from accountability. The only thing holding us back from taking content to the next level now is ourselves. (For a wonderful explanation of the six deadly delays to successful transformation, content or otherwise, don’t miss this classic over at Harvard Business Review.)

We can make the content transformation happen now. That’s fact. Will we? That’s up to us.

Do we really want it?

The Author

Colleen Jones is the author of The Content Advantage and founder of Content Science, a content intelligence and strategy firm that has advised or trained hundreds of the world’s leading organizations since 2010. She also is the former head of content at MailChimp, the marketing platform recognized by Inc. as 2017 Company of the Year. A passionate entrepreneur, Colleen has led Content Science to develop the  content intelligence software ContentWRX, publish the online magazine Content Science Review, and offer online certifications through Content Science Academy.

Colleen has earned recognition as an instructor on LinkedIn Learning, one of the Top 50 Most Influential Women in Content Marketing by a TopRank study, a Content Change Agent by Society of Technical Communication’s Intercom Magazine, and one of the Top 50 Most Influential Content Strategists by multiple organizations.

Follow Colleen on Twitter at @leenjones or on LinkedIn.

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