CIDM Information Management News April 2015: Move to XML Content Creation Tools Surges, But Digital Content Readiness May Be Stalling

Move to XML Content Creation Tools Surges, But Digital Content Readiness May Be Stalling

JoAnn Hackos, Comtech Services, Inc.

Following the Trends—Is Your Content Ready? Survey from Data Conversion Laboratory & The Center for Information-Development Management Shows Customer Demand for Searchable Content Increasing Pressures on Content Developers

Content developers have increased the range of tools they use to deliver technical content, and while they recognize the need to manage digital content across platforms and outputs, they struggle with resource constraints in meeting customer demands. These are some of the key findings in the third annual “Following the Trends—Is Your Content Ready?” survey, jointly conducted by Data Conversion Laboratory (DCL) and The Center for Information-Development Management (CIDM).

Surprising more than 83% of respondents said they use an XML editing tool as their primary means of creating content. Only 36% report Microsoft Word as their primary tool, although another 64% include it as a secondary or tertiary tool. Unstructured Adobe FrameMaker maintains a sizable presence in the content developer’s toolkit, with nearly a third of total respondents using it to some degree. A third also listed an HTML editor.

“That there’s industry movement towards more sophisticated XML tools is very welcome, and bodes well for more feature-rich content,” notes Mark Gross, CEO of DCL. “The demand for digital formats will only continue to increase, and professionals should be looking at longer range strategies for enriching existing content, creating rich new content, and delivering all of it in the myriad ways that customers will be demanding.”

Traditional formats still make up a large portion of the content publishing outputs, although the shift to electronic formats continues to accelerate. While 87% include PDF as a format they currently publish to, by the end of 2015, 45% plan to publish between 75 and 100% of their content electronically (non-PDF or print). Dynamic content delivery systems are gaining a foothold among content professionals, with more than one-third saying that they will make up a significant percentage of their delivery within the next three years; only 8% have no digital publishing planned or in place.

Search remains an area of great interest with 68% of respondents reporting that customers are requesting searchable content. Customers are also asking for learning videos (56%) and mobile content (46% in 2015 versus 64% in 2014). However, content search remains an area of concern for providers with 68 percent of content developers reporting a need to improve the search capability in their content, and 40 percent reporting an inability to offer faceted search. In addition, 30% note that multiple versions of content make findability an issue for their customers.

The 2015 survey showed a slight drop in the number of professionals that say their content is ready to support digital business requirements in the next two years (44% in 2015 versus 48% in 2014). 56 percent say they’re not ready or aren’t sure. However, many barriers for moving to electronic delivery stand in the way. Insufficient staff to manage the change (76%), budget problems (56%), lack of knowledge in developing content for electronic publishing (40%), and a negative experience with a first try (18%) suggest that people need assistance in handling change.

“The pace of change is accelerating. More content is delivered through HTML than ever before, and dynamic delivery methods are gaining quickly,” said JoAnn Hackos, Director for CIDM. “Fewer survey participants indicated their content is ready for digital publishing than in 2014. Nonetheless, insufficient staff time remains the biggest barrier to change. Clearly we need to find ways to help organizations become more productive and recognize that change is more valuable than maintaining the status quo.”

A large percentage of respondents still plan to address conversion and development of digital content with totally in-house solutions (57% in 2015 versus 52% in 2014), 41% plan on a hybrid approach of in-house and outsourced expertise, with 6% relying on totally outsourced solutions.

More than 300 professionals responded to the 2015 survey, and as in years past, most report handling more than one role in their organizations. Among the participants, 56% indicated that they are Writers, while 38% serve as Managers, 35% as Information Architects and 28% as Content Strategists. The vast majority work for technology organizations, with 81% in computer software, hardware, electronics, and engineering firms.

Click here to view the infographic.

About Data Conversion Laboratory, Inc.
DCL ( is a leader in helping organizations grow the value of their content assets investment. With digitization and content management expertise across multiple industries including publishing, life sciences, government, manufacturing, technology and professional organizations, DCL uses its advanced technology and U.S.-based project management teams to help solve the most complex conversion challenges securely, accurately and on time. Founded in 1981, DCL was named to EContent’s Top 100 Companies in the Digital Content Industry in 2014 for the fourth straight year.

About The Center for Information-Development Management
The Center for Information-Development Management (CIDM) brings together the most highly skilled and talented managers in the field of information development from across the US and internationally to facilitate the sharing of information about current trends, best practices, and developments within the industry, from information development to training and support.

Return to main newsletter