Live from Congility: Data or Content?

Data or content? A corporate journey to embracing content strategy, by Alan Miller and Rahel Bailie

Congility2014The conundrum

  • They recognized the importance of the content – but didn’t know what to do
  • Asked for an outside opinion
    • Assessed, and determined the content wasn’t bad
    • BUT they needed a content strategy
    • Strategies take time

Made a transition

  • Began the discovery path
  • Lots of knowledge about their users
  • Not much content knowledge
  • Even knowing all they knew, it was hard to put the pieces together
  • Very data-centric – but where is the breakdown between content and data


  • Data: Numerical or other information representing a suitable for processing by computer.
    • Assumpting: Data is organized in “sets” that can be processed like-for-like in a database.
  • Content: “Stuff” contained in a receptacle; human-usable, contextualized data
    • Assumption: Nuance and context create complexity, which needs management in a content repository
    • A repository is different from a database in that it has metadata – specific functions
  • Data is like spice jars. Content is like cooked food – with spices.


  • People don’t like governance, because it means stopping work
  • The debate on data vs content is too aggressive
  • Governance is a way of quality control
  • It all comes down to people

Lessons learned

  • There are guidelines
  • Those guidelines are situational, and therefore change
  • Be transparent and engaged
    • This takes away some of the fear of governance
  • Many ways to have the data/content debate – keep having those discussions
  • It will be a constant evolution

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