Content Engineering, Insights

What We’ve Learned: Confab 2014

Confab Central Content Strategy ConferenceFresh off his speaking engagement at the 2014 Confab Central Content Strategy Conference, Kanban’s EVP of Client Development Philip Wisniewski has some food for thought. For example, they LOVE their sweets in Minneapolis. Many Confab attendees made a note of a whole room full of cake! Or as we call it, brain food. Confab is definitely fit for foodies.

Between sampling the food and local libations, Philip got to work attending presentations, networking with the collective minds of Confab and delivering his own content engineering presentation, 5 Reasons Content Strategy and Content Engineering Go Together Like Milk And Oreo Cookies. Here are the three most important tidbits  from Confab Central 2014.


1)      Content Strategy meets Marketing:  Content strategy has matured from a cottage industry just a few years ago to a key topic of conversation for marketers.  From a quick, informal poll during our session, about half of the audience considered themselves content strategists and the other half considered themselves marketing professionals. Of the content strategists, 75% or more were working with marketing teams. Of the marketers, 75% or more were working with content strategists. This convergence of disciplines is very exciting.

Judging by the number of attendees during our session, the topic of how to scale, reuse, relate, amplify and manage content programmatically is of significant interest – signaling that content engineering is about to have its day in the spotlight.


2)      A CMS is not a silver bullet, but an API is the silver lining: As we look forward and look at the technology implications  for many brands and organizations, there are many more questions than there are answers.  Most telling was a key take-away from Marriott Senior Digital Strategist Meghan Walsh; a content management system (CMS) is not a silver bullet, but an application program interface (API) is the silver lining.

For many brands, Content Management Systems have been historically focused on a single channel, that being the web.  More recently, we’ve seen CMS vendors talking about mobile, with many different approaches and architectures to target mobile devices.  But as we heard from Ms. Walsh, any brand with a halfway decent content strategy will be focused on multi-channel content publishing, working to leverage scalable content models and structured content to reuse, syndicate and optimize.

Most, if not all CMS vendors fall short of that without significant customization. So why are API’s the silver lining? As Kanban has seen with our clients, marketers should not expect a single system to meet their content needs. Instead, they should look to several systems that, when integrated in real-time, can seamlessly tell and extend a story. And APIs are the mechanism by which these many systems will share data, pass content and coordinate business processes.


3)      The Story is Alive….but scale is a challenge:  Content and storytelling are the quintessential currencies for marketers.  Its hard to not attend Confab, Internet Week NYC, AdAge Marketing Summit and other conferences where the story is not front and center.  At Confab, GE’s Head of Global Digital Programming Katrina Craigwell  shared some great examples of how GE is creating content to expose the wonders of materials engineering. At GE, that story is amplified across social channels through highly choreographed activation campaigns. She noted, however, that high production values and Sr. executive support are a key part of their recipe for success.

At Kanban, we have seen many organizations struggle with building content teams that can scale, while technologies and tools can only go so far in completing the content lifecycle. What they need are unified processes and systems that can efficiently leverage the value of content. At Kanban, we are very focused on how these challenges can be addressed through content engineering, the discipline of structuring, relating, processing and delivering content across multiple tools and technologies in real-time.  We are seeing a lot of interest in content engineering and will be part of a panel on the topic at Internet Developer World, coming this October in San Jose, CA.   See you there.


Check out Philip’s presentation below, or download our free whitepaper here. This free document outlines, in detail, the role of engineering as a part of any content strategy. For more insights and input from the Kanban engineering experts, visit our blog today!



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