STC Summit 2018

The #STC18 Technical Communication Summit is the annual conference organized by the Society for Technical Communication, which took place this year in Orlando on May 20-23, 2018.

Incredibly, it was the 65th anniversary. This milestone illustrates the longevity of the STC organization. This year’s theme, Communicate the Future, exemplifies the forward-looking focus that we will all benefit from.

I attended to represent as President of the STC San Diego Chapter and to present about Future-Proof Writing – an extension of my Effective Content Framework tailored for the conference theme.

See more conference highlights on the STC San Diego blog: 2018 STC Summit – Cheers to a milestone birthday and the future!

Read more about the conference theme and industry trends on the MindTouch blog: Communicate the future at #STC18 and beyond.

Communicate the future at #STC18 and beyond

Originally published on the MindTouch Blog.

The #STC18 Technical Communication Summit is the annual conference organized by the Society for Technical Communication, which took place this year (65th anniversary!) in Orlando on May 20-23, 2018. The theme, Communicate the Future, was all about looking forward—strategically.

What does this mean in practice?

Innovation is a habit, not an outcome

The opening keynote talk, Perpetual Innovation: How the World’s Most Innovative Teams Surface Great Ideas to Deliver Exponential Outcomes, came from Carla Johnson. It was a fitting start to the conference and an opportune topic at a time when the only constant in business is change.

Per Carla, anyone can (and should!) be innovative. The keynote resembled a pep talk from which we can all benefit. As Larry Kunz aptly summarized, “Carla charged us to observe what other brands are doing, distill the parts we can use, and relate those parts to our own brand and customers.”

It’s time to adopt a daily habit of innovation and iterative improvements.

Really, the best ideas aren’t divine. They’re refined over time. That’s what perpetual innovation helps people understand how to do. Really, how technical communicators can become those innovation factories for ideas. –Carla Johnson

Embrace new content interactions

The latest technology-powered interactions are content-fueled interactions. Google calls them micromoments. At MindTouch, we talk about smart microcontent. Essentially, content professionals have an opportunity to impact the world as technology continues to evolve.

As Aaron Fulkerson shared at LavaCon 2017, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will dramatically alter content jobs. At #STC18, we saw many examples of new content interactions:

  • The conversational user interface, in its many forms, presents new constraints and opportunities for content interactions.
  • Nicky Bleiel shared how AI can take technical content and deliver it in potentially unlimited ways. She included striking examples of how Virtual Reality is providing valuable—and life-saving—training content for military and surgical training.
  • My presentation about future-proof writing showed an example of how Augmented Reality is creating entirely new instructional content experiences.

It’s a thrilling challenge to stay connected to the latest ways that content interactions are evolving.

Content strategy is customer-focused strategy

Now that customer self-service plays a more important role than ever, we have to step up our game. Sometimes, that will mean sacrificing our preferred content standards for what’s best for users. Always, it means adopting a user-first approach to everything from how you select a knowledge management tool to how you author effective content.

How do you operationalize a customer-focused strategy?

Just like innovation, it’s an iterative and continuous process. Regardless of the technology used, you can follow a maturity model that enables your customers to self-serve through the entire customer journey.

Top Content Experience Strategist 2017

It’s a great time to be a content professional. With changes in consumer behavior and advances in technology, content has a more important role than ever.

Sara Feldman Effective Content

This is a fun space to work in with tons of reasons to keep upping our content game:

  • Effective content fuels intent-based moments, which Google coined as Micro-Moments, where consumers seek information to make a decision (know, go, do, or buy).
  • Rapidly evolving smart devices and AI-powered conversational user interfaces are dependent on new formats of effective content.
  • New data about customer effort, which is heavily influenced by effective content, shows that reducing customer effort has the strongest measurable correlation to customer loyalty.

As Patrick Bosek called out in a recent easyDITA post, these trends in consumer behavior and new technology “demand content to properly interact with us.” I love how he phrased that.

Content Influencers and Strategists List

I’m pleased to be included on a 2017 list of Top 200 Content Experience Strategists and proud to see so many familiar names from my network included on the list too!

The Top 200, as described by MindTouch:

Nominated and voted on by you, the people, this list was simply too extensive and close to keep it confined to the TOP100 as originally anticipated. This list is 100% voted on by the public and offers insight into who the industry feels are implementing an incredible Content Experience through strategic and tactical use of their self-service materials, delivering best-in-class support for their current customers and prospects alike.

The Top 25, voted on by a panel of Content Experience leaders, is a stellar list of influencers to follow. Check out the full MindTouch list of 2017’s TOP25 Content Experience Influencers and TOP200 Strategists.