SMAC effect

Organizations worldwide are reacting to the thesis “Change is constant”. With newer models developed to link business and technology, it is imperative to invest in R&D centers. Malcolm Frank, Executive VP, Strategy and Marketing, Cognizant spoke on SMAC stack and the potential it offers. This is what he has to say:

Social and mobile technologies have already changed the business models in many industries. Look at retail, with the Amazon model versus Borders, or the movie business with Netflix versus Blockbuster.They are the canaries in the coal mine. In many industries, we are seeing virtual connections and relationships that are much stronger and better informed than physical relationships.

For example, with the algorithms that Amazon and Netflix have on their customers, they know them better than the person at the corner market. This transition is not just at the customer interface; it’s also internal, and it has shaped how companies are managed and how they manage and deal with supply chain partners. As a result, all those areas of business will go through a sea change over the coming decade”.

 I am sure by now you are able to decode “What is SMAC”? Not yet, SMAC is Social, Mobility, Analytics and Cloud. What has SMAC in store for Technical Writing industry? How will writers adapt to such massive change in customer interaction (virtualization), newer products in the market, user and community groups and so on?

Will the SMAC effect offer writers to unleash newer grounds or with easy-to-use products, it can reduce the importance or kill documentation. Most novice or intermediate users prefer Google and community groups to help.

User psychology has been brilliantly explained by Mark Baker (everypageispageone.com) and Tom Johnson (www.idratherbewriting.com). You must read them.

Still a novice in the industry, I will make an earnest attempt to gauge the possibilities.

Social Media

Adobe and Atlassian hire people to manage their community group. It means writers offer virtual touch to the group: answering queries, taking feedback, sharing views. As focus shifts to different media channels to deliver content, customer engagement holds primitive. For a community to become a “pseudo planning board”, we need to look after the following:

  • Power users
  • Grammar champs (word eaters)
  • Information providers

I do not contribute much to any user group, but I make a point to read the comments. This is a critical learning process.

In India, many companies are shifting to wiki-based authoring. Wikis are great way to communicate and interact with the client/user. I do not know if the transition will reap benefits, as communicating with internal and external users are different aspects. Not many understand the business side of social media and employers are not helping the cause either.

Investing in a new technology requires meticulous planning. I am sure writers can contribute a great deal in the decision-making tree. Webinars and tutorials should become a regular fixture in product documentation. It gives information to the user in a short time and entices him to buy the product. In such a scenario, content marketing plays a key element.

Leverage the use of Twitter as an information exchange. It should not be restricted to following favourite celebs, politicians or sportsperson. Most companies are exploring new grounds and others will follow soon. Read Anne Gentle’s post (http://www.writingassist.com/newsroom/how-technical-documentation-professionals-can-use-twitter/).

Analytics

90% of the worlds’ data was produced in last two years. Every day we produce 2.5 quintillion (10^18) bytes of data. Data is an unstructured form of content. From data, we get information (structured). With information, organizations leverage their analytical chain to prepare strategy. With strategy, they make products. With sound understanding of product development, writers can play a vital role in preparing business plans.

My favourite in the stack, analytics stimulates decision-making. With abundance of data available, it is important to leverage its potential. Use of Analytics can help writers in the following ways:

  • Gauge high and low value topics
  • Discover number of people reviewing your content
  • Keywords used by users when searching for topics

It can also enable companies to judge what authoring tool to use for documentaton.There are many free web and social analytics tools available. To begin, you can start using such tools to your blogs and see the results.

Cloud

The best example, which comes to my mind, is Google Docs. I feel cloud can greatly benefit freelancers. With subscription model at the offing, it reduces cost exponentially. Not many authoring companies are offering cloud-based platforms, but this may soon change. As writers, we have to adapt to the situations available on display.

Like Wikis, cloud-based authoring results in collaboration, smooth files sharing, reviewing and others. Some groundwork is needed before working on such projects. This is one the most fascinating traits about the profession, you have to reinvent every time.

Writers understanding and applying these technologies will be in great demand. I will soon dispose my five-year-old mobile phone and buy a SMAC pack!

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