If you work in the area of technical documentation, the term Content Delivery Portal or CDP is now used routinely. There are now many different online portals, where documentation content enriched with metadata is not only easy to find, but can also be presented, filtered, provided with feedback and downloaded in a way that's both attractive and in-line with your corporate design requirements.
But where is the real added-value in the idea of providing topic-based content or even entire documents in such an information portal, and how can it all be made to pay off?
Isn't it just another expensive system that first has to be chosen, customised, and then maintained in a very complicated way?
Getting from "content" to "information"
To answer the question of added value, a Content Delivery Portal should not just be limited to content from technical documentation, such as operating manuals, service manuals, and the like.
Keep in mind that not only the content from traditional operating manuals, but also the latest marketing documents, the real-time machine data, videos or the link to a new augmented reality solution are integrated into a Content Delivery Portal. It then quickly becomes all-too-clear that such a portal can be more than just a website on which you can find contents of an operating manual by entering a simple search term.
Of course, this alone is a real value-add for the users of the system. However, a Content Delivery Portal can cover the needs of far more users — whether it's your own service technicians, external contractors or even your own support people who want to find something very specific very quickly.
A Content Delivery Portal as a centralised information portal
A modern, future-proof Content Delivery Portal connects various data sources. It represents a comprehensive platform for the provision of information — regardless of the origin of this data.
Sensibly structured and equipped with the appropriate metadata and interfaces, a Content Delivery Portal can therefore resolve exactly that which has grown almost unchecked over the past several decades: a never-ending flood of source systems, data silos and unstructured, scattered information.
How do you get there?
These are all nice ideas so far, but what's the best way to find a suitable information portal, fill it with data and run it?
The best way is via those who can best evaluate later whether the system chosen has actually delivered what it promised: its users. Satisfying the needs of the various user groups should be the top priority from the very beginning when selecting, introducing and running a Content Delivery Portal. Once these needs have been identified, it almost goes without saying which information, and which data from which systems would nicely it into a Content Delivery Portal.
So what's missing is a suitable system — this should be selected on the basis of the previously defined use cases and taking into account the individual data landscape. Within the scope of the selection process, it's advisable to create a small showcase that already covers the most important use cases. This not only allows you to pull-back in time (if need be), but also ensures that you can receive direct feedback from users on the previously developed use cases. A positive side effect: the showcase will (hopefully) also protect you from over-the-top marketing presentations by system vendors and it can actively support you in the internal marketing of your content delivery idea.
Costs/benefits of a Content Delivery Portal
At this point, I'd like to cite a few studies that clearly demonstrate - in colourful diagrams - that the introduction of a Content Delivery Portal pays-off. Unfortunately, due to the relatively recent history of Content Delivery Portals for technical documentation, there are not many of these studies. However, a study by McKinsey from 2013 describes a weekly effort of 9 hours per employee for the search of information. If this can be reduced by even a quarter by introducing content delivery, the savings are already considerable.
In my experience, it makes sense in any case to classify the effort and benefit for a company-specific way, and to define suitable business cases on this solid basis.
What can you do now?
Over the next few weeks, why don't you observe your employees and/or co-workers in different departments? Take note of approximately how long it takes them to find a single tidbit of information, and how much time they waste in nerve-racking search for information within your company.
I'm sure you'll find some potential savings. If so, we would of course be delighted to work with you in designing your new, future-facing information landscape. Of course, we'd also be happy to provide you with exactly the right Content Delivery Portal.