The Fast Lane to Content ROI: Delivery First; Structure Second

Webinar Transcript

Marianne Calilhanna
Hello, and welcome to the DCL Learnings Series. Today's webinar is titled "The Fast Lane Content ROI: Delivery First, Structure Second." My name is Marianne Calilhanna; I'm the VP of Marketing at Data Conversion Laboratory. Just a couple of quick things before we begin. This webinar is being recorded and will be available in the on-demand section of our website at dataconversionlaboratory.com. We invite you to submit questions at any time during this conversation, and we'll save some time at the end to answer those questions. We're really happy to have our partner Fluid Topics joining us today.

And, before I introduce our speakers, if you could just click to the next slide, I'd like to give a quick intro to Data Conversion Laboratory, or DCL, as we are also known. DCL's services and solutions are all about content structure. We've been in business for 40 years and are recognized experts in converting, structuring, and enriching content and data. Content structure is the foundation on which the fair principles rely. That means findability, accessibility, interoperability, and reusability. So if you have complex content and data challenges, we can help. Today, I'm thrilled to introduce David Turner, Digital Consultant at Data Conversion Laboratory, and Fabrice Lacroix, CEO at Fluid Topics. Welcome, gentlemen.


Fabrice Lacroix
Good morning. Good afternoon.

David Turner
Yes. Thank you so much. This is great. It's great to have the honor here, too, to talk with Fabrice. And Fabrice, Marianne got the chance to to talk about DCL a second ago. Let's give you a chance here to talk quickly a little bit about Fluid Topics and and your background.


Fabrice Lacroix
Sure, sure. I can do that in one minute. Fluid Topics is a software solution; it's a SaaS solution. And it's a content delivery platform. We call that a CDP: content delivery platform. And as the name says, the goal of the CDP is to make content more easily findable, accessible to people. So it's a solution specifically designed and engineered for technical documentation. We get product-related content, and it's meant to combine all the content that you have around your product, create a unified knowledge hub, create a single source of truth, and make that content available and feed multiple apps and touch points where you can help your content – your users with more contextual and personalized content. That's the entire ID.

So that's what we do. We help tech companies, and I said tech companies because products are complex in that case. Then there is a lot of knowledge required to install, run, service, maintain those products, and we help them change the way their users engage with the products, transforming your operational efficiency. The use cases that we see the most are really transforming customer support operations and field service as well. So depending on the types of product that you have, and the problems that you have to solve.

3:48
David Turner
Excellent. Well, thanks so much for that. Why don't I set up, set up our topic here with a quick little bit of introduction. Um, I think it was Don Norman, back at Apple Computer, who first coined the term "user experience." That was, oh, I don't know, about 30 years ago, but the concept actually goes back as far as the 1950s, and since then we, we've seen some pretty big growth in user experience, and a lot of changes in user experience, first, I think, probably around the PC revolution in the 1980s. And then we had our web revolution in the '90s and 2000s. And then really, I guess, you know, the mobile revolution of the last 10 years, and what I mean by that is, you know, for the PC Revolution, we saw kind of the big move to electronic publishing. And then when we had the web revolution, we saw kind of a move to HTML, and e-mail, and PDF, but the mobile revolution is kind of different, because it's driving something a lot more dynamic, right?

So, bottom content delivery is, it means providing the right content at the right time, on the right device, in a dynamic, personalized manner. And it involves a lot more real-time content. I mean, in the 1980s, we were pretty happy to get a manual that was in paper. You know, in 2010, we were pretty happy to download a PDF. But, now, I want to know what's, what's the latest on my, on my product? So, that means on the content production side, we're producing content faster and faster, and faster and faster. And so to facilitate this, I think a lot of companies are looking at their tech docs production processes, they're looking at their technologies, and they're, and they're starting to make investments. And that sort of takes us here to this next slide, you know, how do you, how do you get there, right? I think the traditional, conventional wisdom, if you will, says, well, you're going to go out, you're going to hire a really good structured content consultant. You're gonna start investing in, you know, a component content management solution, maybe a structured content authoring tool, you're going to hire a really reputable data conversion company with handsome consultants to do, you know, a big content migration process and in the end, it's, it's a big investment, and that's okay, because there is out there is a promise of future ROI.

The problem I think that we run into is that, this promise of future ROI sometimes to be tough to sell to senior executives, you know, somebody like this in sitting or looking skeptically at these, these invoices. Um, They start, they start to question, right? And as a, as a vendor who only gets paid, when these projects actually get approved, and start to move forward, you know, I wanna make sure that the senior executives approve these things, right? Because it gets really frustrating to start working with somebody on a project and go down the path of pricing, and all this kinda stuff, only to have it fail to get funding. You know, people ask me all the time, you know, who are your biggest competitors? And, I think my answer, a lot of times, kind of surprises them. Um, you know, because I think our biggest competitors tend not to be other data conversion companies, but they tend to be the competing priorities at these potential client organizations, right? Customers can't get budget or they can't get enough budget or worse yet, they don't get buy-in from leadership. So, projects, kinda maybe start, but they, they sputter. And I think you probably, I think you mentioned you have a couple of different examples here. So, I'll let you pick that up and talk about this.

7:52
Fabrice Lacroix
Yeah. I can tell you, I have more than one example that totally reflect what you describe as an issue for many to have those projects happening. I have, really, two types of companies here in two types of example. We have customers or prospective customers that reach out to us and say, Oh, you know, I've heard about dynamic content delivery, model content delivery. So, can you show us Fluid Topics to the boss, because we you see you're a good leader in that domain, so shows us Fluid Topics. Basically, we do a model product, we talk about the use case, their needs, and they're totally wowed and say "Oh, that's exactly what we need." So it's like, we talk, we talk to them, one, two three, four meetings, it lasts a week, two weeks, three weeks, a month, and then suddenly, they disappear. And when I say they disappear, it's like really for a year, two years, three years. You have no news. It's impossible to reach out to contact them.

And really, that happened. I can name the companies. Really. And, it's like, three years later, they call you back and say "Okay, now we're ready." You're ready for what? "We're ready for Fluid Topics. We're ready for modern content delivery." But what have you been doing for the, during the three years? "Oh. No, we had to put a CMS in place first, we had to move to structured, so it was, we had a lot of work to do before. Making the rest, the CDP, the delivery part happen." So that's interesting because there is like three years of work and then they reach back to us and say "Okay, now we're there." So, that's one.

And, the other situation is, the companies that talk to you every year, so, it's like, same, they reach out, they want to see Fluid Topics, they're utterly thrilled with the ID, they totally understand, get it, everything. They say, Okay, now, we're going to ask for the money. They say, I'll call you back in a month, so, like, my budget approval is in October, so I'll call you back mid-October. Then they call back and say, Ah, so bad. We didn't get the budget this year, but next year. Then they call you back, like in July or August for a refresh, and probably dates, the proposal, blah, blah, blah, everything, and then they say, Okay. Budget approval is in October, I'll call you back mid-October. And then they call you back mid-October and say, Ahh, failed again. We didn't get the budget this year, because, I don't know, this other project was selected by the steering committee, or say, because you're competing internally for the, for the many companies, can't run all the projects at once. You need people. You need money for that. So, basically, what we see in large companies, what do, what do you want to do, when you're a project, you're competing with others internally.

David Turner
Yeah.

Fabrice Lacroix
So, and we see those companies like, trying to get this budget approval and failing at getting the budget approval and getting the money for that. We say, Why did you fail? Then they explain to us what they do, they say, Ah, okay. They were asking the money not for Fluid Topics. They were asking the money for the entire CMS content migration, plus content delivery, plus everything at once. So it was a huge project. A lot of money, and for sure, because that's a lot of money, and, as you said before, management don't necessarily get the point why it's important. They are not funded. So, that's interesting to see; we have tons of examples like that.

David Turner
And again, it's not that they don't, that they're not going to need structure, and it's not that they're going to need consulting. It's not that they're not going to need all these other pieces, CCMS, conversion partner with, you know, handsome employees. It's just that there could be huge obstacles when it comes to putting this all together as a big, large project, the obstacles that kind of take you out of the fast lane, you know, to RFP. So, why don't you take a second here, I've put up on the slide, you know, some of the large project obstacles that we thought about. Take a few minutes here and talk through some of these, and how you've seen them affect these projects.


12:05

Fabrice Lacroix
Sure. Say you, say you start like, your, you're writing your content authoring, your content, probably with unstructured FrameMaker, or Word, or Wiki, or something like that. And so your goal is to move to structured content authoring, whether it's DITA or whatever. So, you're there, you have all this file, stack of content that you've been writing and authoring and you're still managing. I'd say 10,000, 20-, 100,000 pages of content that you've been creating over the past years. And suddenly you say Okay, now, I need to migrate that content because I want to move to structured authoring. So, if your goal is to take all these, I don't know, 100,000 pages and transform that, for sure that's a lot of work. I mean, it's not, it's not magical like that. You have to do content modeling, as you said, then you have to do the content transformation. It's not just the format that you transform, because when you move to structured, usually that's the opportunity to readapt the chunking of your content –

David Turner
Yes.

Fabrice Lacroix
...and see what is reuse, analyze and reuse, and then, okay, this part needs to be a separate topic, and move separately from, then you start putting conditions and variables inside your content. So that that is a very, very lengthy, complex process overall. So it takes a lot of time. Probably two or three, four years. We receive people working on migrating the content. And again, it's not just format transformation; it's really all the content migration, content developing, like two, three, four years. And during this two, three, four years, probably half of your time, half the time of your team will be dedicated to it as well. But the problem is that when you work on revamping your content, you still have to produce the new content as well.

David Turner
Yeah.

Fabrice Lacroix
So that's why, that's why it takes time, as well, because you cannot stop everything and tell your company You know what, you know what? We're just going to do content migration for a year and a half. During that time, we won't be able to produce any new content at all. You can't do that. So that, that adds up to what you do every day, which means longer, more, even more time. So you've got a lot of content, lots of resources required. It's probably going to harm, a bit, your everyday work, slow you down, then you have to train your people to the new tools, which is even slowing you down a bit more, so, and it costs money, as well. The tools, everything. So that's where you come to, when you add up all that, that's easily a million, two-million, three-million-dollar project. You really should realize the cost of the people and all that. I know you already paid a salary, but still, I mean, this is time you spent on that. So, basically yes, next, you go, ah, you go to your execs. You go to the steering committee. You say This is the, this is the entire project. You put the number, and you say Yeah, it's going to cost three, three million. And they say Okay, and what do we get for that? You tell them, Ah, you get structured content. And, okay...

David Turner
And they say "What?"


Fabrice Lacroix
"What?" Okay. "What?" And you have to train and make sure that all your team is ramped up as well, with this new way of working and all that. So, that's a very tough sell. No, no wonder why you don't easily get the budget approval for that and the money and the people for that, because you say Okay, we're going to be slower. It's gonna take time, times, going to be a risky project. And at the end we'll deliver the same PDFs. But we'll be better off writing them. A tough sell. A really, really tough sell.


15:48
David Turner
It really is. And I live in the world of structured content and, but yeah, it's not, it's not the sexiest thing to sell in terms of it's not the most tangible thing. I, you know, when I'm at parties, I typically get out about the part that I work structured content, and then people, you know, take the conversation someplace else because they can't get their minds around it, so much less an executive there. So, yeah, it's, it's kind of a wonder that these projects take so long to, to finally get that buy-in and to finally get the investment together. Um, and you said two to three years; I actually just talked to somebody a month ago, and this was somebody who put out an RFP just now for our content system, seven years after they first told me that they were looking for a content system.

And, so anyway, let's, let's continue to break this down just a little bit here. So I think, you know, as we mentioned earlier, the traditional approach, or the conditionalist who says, you know, let's choose a Content Management Solution, and let's work with a consultant, let's hire a data conversion company, let's start migrating the content as a first step. You're going to spend two or three years on that work out all your bugs, all your kinks, get everybody going in the same direction. And at that point, hey, we've got structured content, so now we can start looking for a delivery platform, we can start creating style sheets and we can really do that CDP project to get us to, to dynamic delivery. Now, you know at some point you're going to need all these pieces, but I think your point today is going to be, maybe there's a problem with the order that we're doing these in. What is the problem with doing the things in this, in this order?

Fabrice Lacroix
Yeah. I think the problem, and I totally understand that people think that it's the natural way of doing it, because usually you need to write something before making it available. So it's like, on a timeline basis, a timeline basis, you have to write before publishing. But here, the thing is that the content already exists, in fact. So, you don't have to write it; you're just moving the content from one format to another one. And the thing is that, if you look at it, most content migration, and CMS projects are very complex, as we said, and you described it well, all this content migration, revamping the content, they take time. Okay, so you do the thing that takes the longest, takes up more time, the more complexity first, meaning that during that time, you don't deliver anything new, as opposed to a CDP project, which usually takes way more time, it's a matter of weeks, and if really you've got something complex, probably two, three, four months, okay? So we're not talking years, we're talking weeks or months.

David Turner
Yeah.


Fabrice Lacroix
And less risky, less complex, but I think, it's very, very, you're shooting, you're shooting your own foot because you start with the most complex, the most complex one. The most, the riskiest, the riskiest one, you get towards the end, the one that is probably easy as the shortest, and probably the one that is a more appealing to people, because that's where you would create the value.


David Turner
Mm-hm. Well, let's talk about perception of value a little bit. I think that's, that's got to be huge as well.


Fabrice Lacroix
Yeah. I think that, really, I think that that's a matter of perspective. That's, it depends on who you are. Thing is that, as a technical team, for sure you are more aware, educated on the value of structured content, you know what it means to be able to reuse content, conditionalized content, ah, that go faster, and reduce transition cost as well, because when you start reusing content, you need, have to date the translation of what has been changed. So there's tremendous benefits to structured content, which we don't deny. The thing is that, as a tech doc team, for you, you see a lot of value in the CMS because this is your own tool. This is what you need for being more productive every day. And the CDP as well, you understand, as a tech doc manager, that has value as well, because you want to move away from those PDFs. You want to go to something that is more fine-grain, dynamic content, every personalized content, and all that, you do understand.

20:08
So, you put the value, probably a bit more value, or as much value to both projects, and because, you, you have this, you see the same value in both projects, but you understand that, probably, you'd like to be structured first, where it has your metadata ready and all that. You should do the CMS first. But, now, if you look at it from a user perspective or from an exec perspective, you don't, you don't care how people, how people write content, how this content is created, whether it's in Word, whether you use a Wiki, I mean as long as you can have a good UX, user experience, in finding, accessing, and reading that content, the way it's created doesn't matter at all to you. So the value is in how you make that content visible accessible reusable to the end user and how it can comment, engaging with the content itself. But the way you write it, the way it's done before, they don't care at all.

So the value, there is no value to the CMS project for an exec, okay, unless you start showing them numbers and say, Okay, this is the ROI on translation costs or something like that. Yeah, but you have to put this spending on the transition cost in regards to the cost of the entire project. And we were talking about millions. The ROI may be pretty long, as well, as opposed to selling something that is more appealing to everyone, say, guys, let's do, let's change the user experience of how we deliver content. Let's make, support agents or field technicians more efficient because they can find the right piece of info in a, in a snap. So you see the value is not the same depending on who you are.


David Turner

Yes. And I think those changes in, those differences in value are actually what are going to drive this change in the process. So let's let you talk a little bit about how this, how the process would change a more effective path.

Fabrice Lacroix
Ah, yeah. Imagine now that you do "What if?," the "What if?" thing. Imagine now that you do the CDP first because putting the delivery total in place first is, as we said, uh, way faster, matter of weeks or months, less complex, and you create the value so you can sell something that creates value in a very short term and value for your company, for the users, for all the stakeholders. And the good thing is that it's possible, you may say, Well it's not possible because I don't have structured content, and this is where I can tell it is possible because CDP, modern CDP platforms, are able to ingest any type of content even if, even if it's unstructured content, and still create a new user experience that is way better than just PDF on a website.

Okay. Those platforms are still able to automatically ingest this unstructured content and make it look like, chunk it and make something with it. So you can still get lots of benefits with your content as it is. Made faster for something that is way cheaper. And then you start moving to the next phase, which is, Okay, now we're going to optimize this content and now we're going to move from Word with the CMS project, which is going to take time. But you buy, doing CDP first buys you time because you have already delivered results, and during that time in the background, you can start this CMS project without the burden and being under scrutiny of the, of the people in your, in your company.

David Turner
It's a fascinating idea. And so what I'm hearing is, we're not giving up the CMS project, we're not giving up the content consultant, we're not giving up, thank goodness, the conversion partner, we're just, we're changing the order. It's, it's almost like, fake it till you make it with the content that you have.


24:04
Fabrice Lacroix
Exactly that.


David Turner
And it's gonna, it's gonna seem structured, even, uh, you're trying to get, try to get that set up first, which ultimately removes the obstacles, gives executives something to grab onto so we can get more projects approved. It's a win for the content organization, it's a win for the customers, it's a win for the vendor. So, like, it's a win-win-win situation. And, it's, I guess really, kind of what the primary focus is: that quick, early win.


Fabrice Lacroix
Yeah, you know that, I mean, you have to show something that people can get excited about. I mean, if you show this new way of delivering content and see that even with this, uh, small investment and rapidly you can change the UX, then you have the attention of your management and then you can deliver new messages that say, okay, we were able to do that, in few weeks, few months, but now we could do something way better. We could go way further, we, if we add a little bit more money to do some structural content, but at least now they listen to you because they start seeing, getting an idea of what it means, changing the user experience by, and delivering content in a new way. And they start understanding, they start understanding it because they see it, otherwise it's very conceptual to them.


David Turner
Absolutely. So now they can get their arms around this. Now the executives can see, Hey, the users are getting something from this, and you're not asking me for as big of an investment, you're asking me for a smaller investment, a smaller time investment, a smaller financial investment to get the delivery part set up first. Let's get started. And by doing that it gets you set on the path to go toward the structured content, and it gets you, starts getting the money that you need. So you're starting to win me over here. Sounds good. How do we, how does the company get, get started with this, this kind of approach?

Fabrice Lacroix
Ah, I think that, uh, I say here, you have to start with the end in mind, I mean you know where you want to go anyway, you know yet that you want to do the CMS and structured content, you know the end of the story. But by starting like that and by putting the delivering place first, you can start grabbing your content and you see how your content reacts as well to this new way of being delivered. And you can see the metadata that you need from, from a UX perspective at least. What do people need for filtering content? What are the metadata that matters to them to spot the right piece of content? What is the UX that I need? What is the granularity? What is the content they use and they really read every day that I should focus on, uh, in first place? So you will learn a lot, and by studying like that, you will iterate rapidly and that gives you a lot of input for how to optimize your, the rest of your project down the road and, which is mostly your CMS project.


David Turner
And it may not be perfect at this at this point, it's going to be something started. It's gonna be something where customers can see a difference. You may not be able to do everything that you ultimately want to do, but you're you're doing, you're doing something. And so let's let's talk a little bit more, let's talk a little more about what it means to get started with dynamic delivery itself and how this whole thing works.


Fabrice Lacroix
Sure. The, as I said earlier, the, I think the the difference between putting content on a website, you have to understand the difference between how you used to deliver content before without the delivery platform like Fluid Topics and what it is to have a CDP. If you don't have a CDP, basically you have a website, meaning that you generate content, you have your data sources, you have your whatever you write in Word or FrameMaker. And then you generate either PDFs or HTML. You put that on the staging server somewhere. And the IT people get the content on this internal staging server and then they put that somewhere else on the web platform.


28:20
So they design the website, they put the content. There is a little bit of search on top of that. But it's mostly like we're using classical website technologies. Okay. And so, and that's really the way it works when when you have a CDP and this is where you are a little bit struggling because if you have Word files, the only thing you can do at this time is mostly generate a PDF and then put a PDF somewhere on this staging server. And then you will be publishing PDF on your website. Documentation website. But when you have a CDP, and the CDP's sort of different by nature, the CDP just takes the content as it is. When it's Word file, you publish the Word file, when it's FrameMaker you can publish the FrameMaker output to the FrameMaker export. When it's Wiki, can collect, scroll the Wikis or connect to the APIs of the Wiki platforms, get all that. That's the collection part. Okay. So it has the native capability to ingest any type of content, then the role of the CPS to do this transformation of the content. Okay. And part of this transformation when you don't have structured content is still effective, as you said before. It's really, we can take a Word file, we're going to split the Word file by chapter subsection, subsection, something very naïve but at least that creates a bit of granularity.


David Turner
Yes.


Fabrice Lacroix
And transform that into a piece of, pieces of HTML. And this, there, indeed, there is not a lot of semantic here. It's very naïve in terms of, this is probably not how you would transform that into structured content in terms of granularity for reuse, but at least you're not publishing PDFs. And the CDP is able to analyze this content and take something that is more granular, transform into HTML, and then add a bit of metadata on top of that and then make that content available through the different channel, we've got a ton of analytics, we knew exactly what people, how people search what they search, where they click, what piece of content they read. So we know all that, that's part of the value of the CDP as well. So that's the idea with the CDP, it's not like pre-generated content on a website, but it's really a platform that has all the technology for transforming the content and making that content accessible and findable the right way.


David Turner
But let's dig into that whole idea of, um, of not having to go through the big conversion, not having to do the big migration at the beginning, as a, as a conversion vendor, it's a little frightening to me, I think, oh my gosh, my customers are going to need me anymore. Um, but I think what I'm hearing is that this, it's going to be still naïve content, but there is a way that you can get started with just, just what you've got. Talk a little bit more about this, this idea of deliver first and come as you are.


Fabrice Lacroix
Yeah, uh, let's say, I was, I was quite afraid doing this talk with you and this conversation with you because as you said, it was like, it looks like we're advertising the fact that we don't need content conversion, which is exactly not the fact, I think we need that. The problem is that when do you do it at what time? And how do you get the money for that? We need structured content. We need a lot of semantics in content and we'll talk about that later. But here the idea is that even if you don't have this well structured file cemented with semantics, tags and everything and a lot of metadata on your content, we can still do something which is the "come as you are." Come with your content as it is.

32:12
We widely prefer having structured content as an input. I mean we, we can ingest native DITA directly, the DITA files, and we can leverage all the structure, all the richness of DITA, and we can do crazy stuff with DITA, but if you don't have that yet, and I said DITA; I mean you could imagine any XML format or something highly semanticized, but if you don't have that, still, we can do something for you in the meantime, while, we can do something. Plus, probably not all your content will be migrated or probably you have data sources that are not meant to be transformed into structured content because I don't know, this is our markdown content for describing APIs or something like that, which has, there is no meaning to writing this documentation in DITA or something that is automatically generated somewhere. So, as well, that's the idea with the CDP; we can take it for content that is not structured, we can, as well, aggregate and combined content that will never be structured anyway. We put that in one place, but at some point, to go one step further, it's way better to have structured content. We can do way more things.


David Turner
And honestly, I mean, I think you could basically have a workflow, even, that says, maybe you've got 30 years worth of content that you're wanting to ultimately migrate and that's a hard sell. But perhaps it's something where you could, say, well, let's start with, maybe the last year or let's start with just these certain products, we can have DCL convert those, get them into structured content for us. It's a smaller batch, that's something we could sell, and then we can use that to help start populating our CDP.


Fabrice Lacroix
Yeah, that's very good. That's a very good point. I mean the idea here is that because you have the CDP in place first, you can start migrating and play around with a piece of the subset of your content, or the content, or you can start documenting a new product with the new tool and probably keep all products, legacy products documented with the legacy tools and start saying Okay, we have this new product line, we have this new product, and here we could start writing structure and start learning and then probably we learn a bit as well, and then we start migrating for products that are still sold and very active and are active maintenance and probably will migrate a little bit more content, and then you can iterate and slowly move that content, but you can do that in the background and because you already have the CDP in place, then, that's why I say that doesn't change the UX. I mean, your content gets better and better, more tags in it and so forth. But you can do that in the background and you don't have to wait to have everything transformed before changing the way you deliver. We can get a lot of benefits very rapidly.


David Turner
Yeah. So here, I put up a slide that just talks about some of the, some of the benefits here. Even even before you start getting the structured content, if you want to talk a little bit about some of these things here.


Fabrice Lacroix
Yeah. Well, to be truth– to be honest, truth is that those numbers are, those things are real stories and real numbers from our customers. Uh, some of them, most of them, have structured content, but you get, you would get the same results and the same benefits with unstructured content published like that because it relates to the fact that at some point we changed, we create some granularity and those other benefits brought by the platform itself.


35:53
So one of the benefits that are very appealing to management is that when you start publishing your content in the modern ways, granular content. Not structured yet, maybe, but it is granular with HTML format, we can optimize the way we expose that content. We should have content on the web to web search engines. And we have customers, and we can even give names here because we, we talked about it during a webinar recently, it was Hexagon PPM, which is a huge vendor, and they were used to publish PDFs on the website and they had no internet presence, no web presence. You couldn't find them on the web. The only thing that Google was indexing was the corporate websites. So maybe a few hundred, few hundred pages.

And they moved to Fluid Topics, and, partly structured, partly unstructured, and suddenly have, and I think that there are 307 topics. It's quite a lot of, lot of content, and part of that content is publicly available, not all of that, not all of it but mostly available. And we exposed that content. We showed that content in a very optimized way to Google. And suddenly they have maybe 200,000 topics, pages, indexed by Google, meaning their web presence goes from a few hundred pages to hundreds of thousands of pages. So you can imagine the impact on being referenced on Google. And they tell us, they said Now you know what? When people search, well, the keywords that are matching our business, we are always in the top four results. And usually that's the tech doc.


David Turner
Yeah.


Fabrice Lacroix
So you don't pay for that. Imagine the money that marketing is spending or just matching the keywords that people search on Google or to advertise that they have the right tool for that. You have all the keywords in the tech docs. You have all the contents already existing. So if you expose that content and with the CDP, that's what we do as well. Then suddenly you can say marketing, you can pay, you can give money on that project because I will help you be more visible on the web and that's all this money you won't have to spend by buying AdWords or keywords on Google. So then, again, moving from structure and PDFs to structured content and granular content. So uh, and we have several, three customers that have really conducted focus groups and studies, very, very documented studies on measuring how long it was taking people to find a piece of info. So they're designed scenarios, like, you have to solve this, this and this, and they have really measured people, we have all the reports and say, okay, like support agents, field technicians, end users and so forth. And they designed multiple scenarios like, solve this problem, finding full on how to solve that.

And they just put some people, half of the people, in front of the legacy portal with a bit of static HTML PDFs, and Fluid Topics. And basically they all give the same number, 60-64% faster with Fluid Topics, all of them, meaning that something that was previously taking like, complex problem, 10 minutes, now it takes four, four minutes. You can imagine the money when you have thousands of people working, looking for info on your product. And so that's tremendous. The ROI is huge and it's even better than that because you do this thing which is called the path of least resistance, meaning that people do the thing that ask for the less it fall to them, meaning that if something is difficult to find in your content, and you know it's going to take, because you're used to the product, you're used to the portal to these PDFs and you know that looking for something is going to take you 10, 20 minutes, but you can open a ticket and call for support and you'll get a reply in maybe two minutes. Gonna take you one minute to open a ticket and complain about not finding something, to get a reply.


39:58
So what do you prefer to do as a human? You will, will you spend the 20 minutes fighting in the tech doc and having all those PDFs or will you reach out to the support especially now that you have those chat windows and all the things but it means that as a company you invest in content and the more content you have the more difficult it is for people to find the right info because it's even more PDFs, so you put money in your content and at the same time you have to put more people replying to the chats. 
It's very frustrating and because it's that you don't have people finding the right info but if you have a CDP in place, and we've seen company, and this one, as well, is public, swissQprint. So they do high-tech printers, industrial printers, they went and put Fluid Topics in place. They said okay, 34% call deflection, reduction of the number of tickets up, and within the first two months, in less than two months, we've seen the number of calls and support tickets reduced by 34%. So that's a lot of money. That's tangible. You can sell that to your managers.

David Turner
These are the kinds of things that certainly will help you get executive buy-in.


Fabrice Lacroix
Probably, the ROI of call deflection and web marketing, web presence, then reuse and transition costs, you probably will see in three years. You see what I mean? It's like you don't advertise the same, the same things.

David Turner
And it also gives them a taste for wanting more. Okay, let's, let's figure out what else we can do. We just started with what we had. Right? Let's, what do we need to take, take on from that? Before we get to that, talk about smart content, I want to talk about the content strategy piece. You mentioned a minute ago, uh, talking about how this, this approach can, can help you to iterate and really inform your your content strategy. So I want to give you a chance to talk about that really quickly.


Fabrice Lacroix
Yeah, very quickly. Um, as you said, it's a pretty complex project and basically when you start, uh, say you have, I don't know, 1,000 PDFs. Okay. Word files, FrameMaker, unstructured frame, and you want to migrate that into structured content. Let's set it up. Make it simple. So you move from Word or FrameMaker to DITA. And we all know that it's not just about format, the formatting and the format itself, it's about granularity, designing the topics, the topics modeling, the metadata for that.


David Turner
As we put, there's a difference between valid XML or valid DITA and useful XML or useful DITA.


Fabrice Lacroix
That's it. That's the point. And the thing is that you don't know yet. I mean you have you have your Word files and basically you don't know what bit of data they will read, how people will access what they read, how they read your content. So the thing is that if you can with this fake it and then make it way of doing, put your content, even if the granularity is not the right one, and start putting some metadata and then you can iterate how people need more metadata on that. And when I start searching, and probably we could from that, meaning that if you want to filter, um, I don't know, let's say we need to tag content whether it's for installation, troubleshooting, regular maintenance, see what I mean?

This sort of metadata. And suddenly you realize that would make sense. Then you say, okay, now we need to tag, to design the taxonomy for that, and you put that there. And then you say, okay, and people ask a way to filter for, by content types, REV Guides or whatever. Okay, we need a taxonomy and we need to tag content according to this taxonomy. This way of filtering content. And then you learn, because people tell you what they need, because they start having a tool that they like, and then they come back to you and give you a lot of insights on how they would like to search content, navigate content.


43:54
And that helps you, that gives you insights and that helps you design this content migration strategy. Otherwise you start from a blank page and you don't know where to go. And we see that it's, and it's even more money to spend and even more time if you have to reiterate why you structure your content, then knowing a bit in advance what path you should go down and what, what is the granularity, what you're going to reuse and so forth. So you will learn a lot and that's part of this iteration, that you can start immediately with unstructured content as well.


David Turner
Well now I want to bring it back to structured content because that's the topic that's near and dear to my heart. We talked earlier about, it's not that we're just getting rid of the CMS project or the CCMS project, we're not getting rid of structured content, we're not getting rid of the content consultant. We're just, we're just changing the order. Right? Because, um, at some point, if you're gonna make some real strides, you're gonna need the structured content, you're gonna need the data conversion, you're gonna need the other pieces. Um, but now you've got an actual value proposition that you can give to management, so that they're actually kind of, kind of thrilled, uh, with the idea. So talk a little bit about that, about the move now from, from dynamic delivery to these investments and creating this smart delivery.


Fabrice Lacroix
Sure. Uh, I think that when you start, when you fake it and you just use the CDP capabilities to chunk, that's a chunk, really loose, unstructured files like Word files, and that that's okay for web delivery. Okay. You have this granularity, it's better for indexing, accessing contents directly at the right position at the right place. It's pretty good. And that's where you change the UX. And you grade the UX that you have from your website, static website, to something more modern and more efficient. But we all know that the real thing that people want to achieve are, how can I use my content to feed a chatbot? How can I use my content to do in– inline help, because I'm a software vendor as well, or there's software everywhere. Even if you're doing hardware, there's a piece of software somewhere you may have an app and you want to do inline help in your, in your app. In your app.

Or you want to do, I don't know, you're in the maintenance, you're doing hardware and you want to do augmented reality or virtual reality and you want to, even if it's for training people, and suddenly have the instructions be displayed inside or on top of, as a layer on top of this image when you start up, use your tablet and you're like filming this device and suddenly your tablet recognizes the different elements of your, the engine or whatever, the hydraulic system. But then suddenly you want a little bit of info displayed on that screen. You cannot display the entire video, you see what I mean. You cannot do that with PDF or Smart Goggles. You can, you will stop, you cannot read your PDF with Smart Goggles. It's like you think like, that the entire PDF displayed inside this small – in an inch like that. You won't do that. So you need very granular contents, pragmatic content, tagged content at a very fine grain. So that's where I'm pretty, uh, we have to be honest with the fact that this first step by tagging structured content is not enough if you want to go the next step. Then you know, you need to know, you need to have this small fine-grain, well-designed content. And it's what we call smart contents because it's very, it's what you need for doing this more advanced stuff.


David Turner
Absolutely.


47:49
Fabrice Lacroix
Embarrassingly, usually management comes, the top exec, or the CEO, maybe already have done that two or three years ago because you've seen that on a governor conference, and say yeah, guys, I heard the future is in chat, chatbots. Can we do chatbots? And what we see most of the time in companies and, and I've seen, at this discussion with a lot of Fortune 100 companies: they all try to do this chatbot thing. All of them have tried and they ended up rewriting content separately because their content was not structured, not PDF, and basically what they did is say Okay, let's do a proof of concept somewhere and for doing that proof of concept we need to have very very fine-grain, very semantic content with all the tags and everything so that we can connect that finally through sort of new UI stuff, new channels, new apps, new chatbots, AR, VR.

So, and that's where you see the gap and the disconnect because you have all these legacy content that exists which is probably, I don't know, half a million pages or a million pages because you're a Fortune 100, and it took you 30 years to write all that and make it valid content and just, some, somewhere someone wants to try this chatbot project, and they start rewriting the content for the redo doc, and they rewrite that, they will never get it done the right way. I mean it's just for the POC, that's a pilot, and they say Okay, this is what we need. Now, how do we connect the real content that we have now that we understand what we need and this is smart content, this is where we need to migrate to content for real.

David Turner
Yeah. And this is the perfect time to start thinking about your consultant, this is the perfect time to start thinking about your conversion vendor, and I know a really good one. Perfect time to bring in, you know, your content management system, and then I'll just stop here and just say quickly, I would just encourage all of the organizations as you look at this, you don't necessarily have to tackle all of your content at once. It's not something, I mean, obviously we, we would love to help you convert big massive things; we can scale it to any size project. Um, but you don't necessarily have to do that. If you work with a good solid partner, you can move content over and update content, you know, over time. And it'll help you to, like you talked about before, iterate and get a little bit more value.

And if you've already actually moved to this kind of a platform, this is a good time to maybe think about what what else can I bring, how what else can I bring to, maybe that's being dynamically delivered but that we want to bring to smart delivery. Because I mean ultimately there's a there's a lot of benefits to structured content, right? And I'll just reiterate several here. If you don't just stop with the delivery platform, you can use this to start taking advantage of reuse, so instead of having to make updates in 17 different places in 17 different documents you can make it in one place and reference it everywhere else. It makes content faster to update. It makes it more easily adaptable to localizing content, maybe for different cultures or geographies. It's a lot less expensive to translate because instead of translating 17 documents you're translating one document, and it reduces the risks of content inconsistency, which is a huge thing when you think about, like, regulated industries and and and things like that. It certainly enhances your search. There are more things you can do with search.

You're going to get a search bump when you move to your CDP process. When you start structuring your content, there's there's more options that you can take, there's more accessibility features that you can add. Um, you can start personalizing content at scale, be that personalized messaging through the packaging, like a, like a GS1 digital link format, making your chatbots, like you talked about, a lot more intelligent, you start empowering AI and machine learning, all the other data analytics tools, because, again, while they can all provide some value with unstructured content, you really have the key to open the doors to the, to the big power when you, when you add that, that structure, and add that, that ability to do smart, smart delivery.

52:20
So, anyway, we're gonna wrap up here in just a second so we can do questions, but you guys provided this to the webinar this great slide here and I want to give you a chance to kind of talk about the cost versus the value.

Fabrice Lacroix
I think it's pretty, um, it's visual, I mean it's, if you start with the CDP first, which is the purple, the purple one, you start delivering value rapidly; the value is this yellow line. So you start having a lot of value rapidly for smaller projects, little little cost and then you can start having your structured content migration done in the background, which leads you to the point where you have enough structured content and enough metadata, structure, semantic in your content and you can start smart delivery and then, again, you start having this new increased value that you can create for your company. I think that's really a better path because instead of having this flat or no value delivered for two or three years with a lot of cost, if you do it the other way around, which is basically what we talked about for this, this hour, this past hour, create value first as much as you can so that you get the support of your management, of your execs, get the money, get funded, then they will ask, themselves, for more. They will give you the money. What we see with our customers when they start like that, all of them were pooled with money on them to do more because they got the traction. They got the, the willingness of the management to go one step further.

David Turner
And so vendors like us, instead of sitting around and just hoping that projects are going to get, get funded, you're taking an approach like this, we have a much larger chance. So if you're a content consultant out there, you can point people, "Hey, start looking at your delivery platforms." If you're a a component content management system provider, start pushing people towards, towards these, here as a conversion vendor, I'll tell you start, start talking to the guys at Fluid Topics, because that can get you that kind of, that kind of buy-in that you need. It does help you to control costs here, faster ROI, all these things that are, that are listed. So anyway, well, we're now up against the last five minutes here and I did want to leave some time for some questions if we have them so Marianne, why don't you come on back on and and let us know what questions we got. Be happy to answer.

Marianne Calilhanna
Yeah. Um, well, a question that always comes up is, um, costs, or budgeting. So, you know, we know it's hard to just give a blanket statement of how much a CDP project costs, Fabrice, but can you speak to how one budgets for that? Because it depends on the complexity of the content. Talk us through some of, some of that budgeting for a project like this.

Fabrice Lacroix
Um, well I can give real numbers. I mean, I, I've been talking about weeks, a few months of work for rolling out a CDP and probably in terms of costs, if you consider at least the cost for consulting, not what you do as the, as in the content, but for example if we do the consulting for setting up the platform or someone else does it, we're talking about, days on average, it goes from 10, 15, to 20 days to, I don't know, 40, 50 days at most. This is already a big project, I mean, for a CDP. So you can really do a lot of things quite fast and really when I say it's a matter of weeks, it's really that. So, so the cost is like it's not, it's not huge. And again, and for the tool itself, SaaS, we're talking about a few thousand bucks a month.

56:11
I mean it's, it's not like million, it's not like million a year. It's less than 100,000 a year, maybe 40,000, 50,000 year. That's already a significant customer, you see, and you have all your portal, all the tools, you get rid of all the servers, the plan that you have maintaining your existing portal, which cost a lot of money as well. I mean sometimes we have customers telling us that in fact Fluid Topics is less expensive than the cost of maintaining their own existing portal. The people, the machine, the security holds that they have, with this pressure on security and all that, maintaining legacy systems like that. So, so it's very very affordable in fact,

Marianne Calilhanna
Okay. Not to mention the money you're going to get from your marketing department because they're gonna be paying you for SEO.

Fabrice Lacroix
Make them pay. Make them pay for that. You're right. [Laughs]

Marianne Calilhanna
Um, can you speak to the people who are working on the CDP? Um, you know there is this relation to the CMS project. Are they the same people working on the project?

Fabrice Lacroix
Um, I would say yes and no. Uh, anyway the people from the tech doc team that are usually more involved in the CMS project will be, as well, working on the CDP project because anyway they will provide the content. They will work on the metadata and all these, all these things. But because it's usually most of the time a front-facing tool, probably the IT guys will be part of the project and security review and probably marketing will step in as well and say Okay, we have our say, we have our things to say because it's visible to the customers or whatever. Well, if it's more field technicians for an internal group of people, then you get the support people coming in, customer, the field service VP, whatever, steps in and say I want to be part of that.

So more people around, probably around the table, that's probably the most complex part of the CDP project. It's, at some point you attract a lot of people and that makes it more difficult to manage than the CMS project. The CMS, you're on your own, that's secret project. Nobody wants to deal with DITA except the tech doc team. But the problem is that because nobody cares, nobody comes to your table but nobody cares about what you do as well. So you see the drawback is the advantage and conversely, I mean in the other way around that's the project is easy. Uh, it's visible, but it's visible so many people want to be part of it.

Marianne Calilhanna
Well, we have one minute left; I'll just quickly throw this out there. Have you ever seen customers for whom this approach backfired? That is, management says CDP works. Why should we spend more? Maybe they don't understand the value of the, extending beyond to smart delivery.

Fabrice Lacroix
Um, honestly not, never, I never saw that. And again, probably because they did explain it well. Probably because at some point the people themselves internally are asking for more, like pilot projects, and again, because you don't have to, you're not forced to migrate all your content at once. So, meaning that you don't have to ask for a lot of money. You can do it over time, meaning that you can, the money that you need for migrating your content can be spread over more time, and each and every time by showing the ROI. Usually start with a piece of your, I don't know, 10% of your content and show that you have ROI here as well, because you have ROI for translation costs and all that. So you can start proving the ROI on a limited part of your content.

Marianne Calilhanna
All right. Well, thank you both. Thank you, Fluid Topics, for joining DCL in this conversation today. We've come to the end of our hour. Thank you, everyone who's taken some time out of their afternoon, early evening, to join us. The DCL Learning series comprises webinars like this. We also have a monthly newsletter and a blog. You can access many other items related to content structure, XML standards, and more from the on-demand section of our website at dataconversionlaboratory.com. Thanks, everyone. Enjoy the rest of your day.

Fabrice Lacroix
Thank you very much. Have a good day.