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Man against the Machine - The future of content engineering

January 26th, 2015

Man against the Machine -  The future of content engineering

The film “Her” presents simultaneously two very different pictures of future content engineering. On the one hand, the protagonist, Theodor, works as a personal letter content writer. He has to imagine the target reader and produce unique content most likely to be appreciated by his audience. His job is to seamlessly create content that forms daily written relationships.

On the other hand, Samantha is an artificially intelligent operating system that Theodor buys for his own personal use. She relies on algorithms to tell Theodor exactly what he most wants to hear. She too produces content but her messages have been planned by the software engineers who created her infrastructure based on Theodor’s expected responses.

In practice, the future of content engineering may not look exactly like either of those two extremes, although breakthroughs in content delivery systems are bringing content engineers closer to a world in which brands can deliver experiences that resonate directly and automatically with a customer’s life, wants and needs at any time.

We can dream and plan ahead but we don't really know how content engineering will develop. We do know, though, that as long as content engineers continue to serve customers by feeding them relevant and engaging content, content engineering will keep evolving, producing more and more tools, more formats, and new opportunities. Most of those new developments will be based on the customers’ digital profiles that already exist in social media and other online sources in order to provide personalized content and a unique customer experience.

The content itself will be made by content producers who will look at stats and insights to ensure that the content generates maximum engagement. But it will also be automated to give the perfect feed at the perfect time.

The Role Of The Author In Content Engineering

Does this growth of automation threaten writers and conventional content producers? It might. That’s why content engineers have to be adaptable. We have to be able to reinvent ourselves constantly in an environment that changes daily if we’re to stay relevant and continue engaging customers.

It’s possible that content engineers will one day create future Samanthas to run our lives and feed us with content but the basic approach to content strategy and engineering will remain the same.

However content engineering will develop, it will always be about creating relevant and engaging content that benefits the customer and enhances the brand.

That engagement and enhancement will continue to happen by creating a meaningful relationship with customers, and keeping that relationship steady with consistent and valuable content delivery.

And the form that content will take will be… well, who knows? Right now it’s videos (regular, interactive and personalized), tutorials, simulators, infographics, apps, blogs, testimonials, social media and a whole lot more, all of which function within multi-access platforms and technologies supported by today’s digital devices. The job of a content engineer will always be about taking us to the next level in creating new and effective tools to support the customer experience.

“Her” represents the pinnacle of content engineering: automated content that produces the feeling in the user of a genuine relationship. It may take some time until we’re using Samantha’s AI - and by the time it happens we will all retire - but as content engineers, our goal should always be to use content to build a relationship as human as the one Theodor forms with his readers - and with Samantha. We should be combining content technology and automation to create meaningful connections. That is possible and content engineers are doing it now.

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