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What are content operations?

Siw Grinaker on

Handle content production better—the essentials of ContentOps in one place.

Essential background

With the advent of smartphones, wearables, and IoT, the digital experience industry has focused its efforts on delivery—on making content available in any channel and form with responsive design, APIs, and headless CMS.

Most organisations have clearly defined brand guidelines, purpose, and an associated content strategy, while also having the technology for distributing content in place. But what about the process of producing the content itself?

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As Angus Edwardson points out on Boye & Co, the new reality of digital experiences has put a lot of pressure on structured content production across the organisation. He writes: “It's not easy to produce content that is adaptive, can be reused across multiple channels, or mapped to the 'conversational interfaces'.”

Enter content operations, or “ContentOps” for short. Recognising the need to explicate principles and methods to fill the gap between strategy and delivery, Deane Barker of Blend Interactive described a concept he dubbed “content operations.”

Definition of content operations

Taking into account that no content is possible without someone producing it (people), someone planning, producing and reviewing it (process), and something distributing it (technology), our essential definition of “content operations” is as follows:

“Content operations is a content production method between strategy and delivery that integrates people, process, and technology.”

As we can see by this essential definition, ContentOps is an integrating production method within a wider group of content processes—including strategy and delivery. The concept of ContentOps subsumes every systematic effort to tie people involved with content to editorial processes and the technical delivery of the content in different channels.

Learn more: How your CMS can enhance the customer journey »

The need for these three aspects to work together on effectively producing quality content is paramount in an age where brands are expected to be omnipresent, interactive, and delivering excellent customer journeys. In the intersection between people, process, and technology we thus find ContentOps:

ContentOps venn diagram

GatherContent, which brands itself as a Content Operations Platform, has gathered several thoughts from industry experts on the nature of ContentOps, including Mailchimp and the aforementioned Deane Barker.

The common denominator is an emphasis on organising, producing, and managing content coupled with the integration of the three key ingredients of people, process, and technology. The industry experts also stress analysis and the goals of ContentOps, which is higher efficiency, quality assurance, replicability, and scaling.

Barker himself writes: “Content operations is concerned with everything between content strategy and content management. Any form of content manipulation and analysis would be managed by a content operations process.”

Read also: 5 pitfalls when changing CMS »

Organising your content production

As we have seen, content operations put everything from your content production processes into a system. An email, a person profile, or an article may have several chains consisting of:

  • People (copywriter, editor, subject matter expert, legal advisor, senior stakeholder)
  • Processes (strategy, pitch meeting, workshops, writing, filming, recording, reviewing, verifying, greenlighting)
  • Technologies (email provider, CMS, CRM, data storage, messaging apps, marketing automation tools)

All these steps and more may be involved for delivery to a single channel, which often can result in a slow and demanding content production process. A ContentOps method allows your team to map existing people, processes, and technologies in order to discover weak links, figure out how to communicate effectively across departments, and how to optimise the structured content for delivery in required channels.

The person chiefly responsible for ContentOps will be like a conductor. Whereas previous content production may have consisted of a cacophony of strings, horns, and percussion, the organising of all the elements into an orchestra results in a symphony—ready to deliver delightful tunes in concert or recording.

Think of ContentOps in the same way.

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Frequently asked questions

What are content operations?

A content production method between strategy and delivery that integrates people, process, and technology for more efficiency and scaling.

What are the advantages of ContentOps?

Putting emphasis on content production and all involved aspects can lead to more efficient and quality-minded work, readily available for any channel.

How do I start with ContentOps?

Perform an inventory of involved people, processes, and technologies, enhance or remove weak links, enable communication across departments, and start optimising content production for omnichannel.

Topics: 
content operations
digital strategy
digital experiences