Whew, what a wonderful week. We just spent four of the last five days in Las Vegas at the Intelligent Content Conference with incredible people. One interesting thing to come out of it was a preview I got to share of CMI’s recent research.

Technology – specifically, finding innovative ways to use automation, artificial intelligence, and data – has become one of the largest challenges identified by businesses looking to scale content. In our latest content management research, almost half of the content practitioners we interviewed (47%) said that they feel they don’t yet have the right technology to scale their content efforts. Another 53% said that their greatest educational need was “better use of technology to manage content as a business asset.”  

But is technology really the challenge?

Discomfort with technology is certainly not limited to content and marketing, or even business. A recent New York Times article argues that many analog things – wristwatches, alarm clocks, even paper – solve the challenges they were designed to solve better than their digital counterparts.  

Sometimes dumb devices rule.

I can’t help but see a corollary in our professional world. While I love my iPad, my Apple Watch, and my Alexa, some things can’t be improved by automation or artificial intelligence. Too often these days, I see marketing teams throwing technology at a problem that would be better addressed with simple human communication or a manual effort.

For example, one conference attendee told me that he had struggled for six months to redesign their web content management system’s workflow so that only certain people could publish certain content from the “pending” status to “live.” Apparently, the product team had sometimes made content public that hadn’t been approved yet. To address this problem, the CMS development team created a technology solution, automatically routing all content of that type to a restricted-access status.

I asked, “Why didn’t you just ask them to stop doing it?” “Well,” he said. “We didn’t think of that.”

His time-consuming technology fix hadn’t been necessary. Worse yet, it wasn’t even a fix. Nothing was stopping one of the sanctioned team members from accidentally publishing unapproved content.

Sometimes we outsmart ourselves with our smart technology.

Next time someone suggests a technology fix, have the courage to ask, Would a dumb solution be smarter?

It’s your story to tell. Tell it well.

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