Note: this is the 3rd post in our series on thriving in the content tornado. The first emphasized the content tornado itself and the second focused on gaining adoption for DAM solutions.

We all have heard over and over that customer experience has become the most important differentiator for all kinds of businesses.

McKinsey, Gartner, Forrester, and the rest of the analyst community all say it. And I’m sure that most of us have also heard about the importance of working cross functionally to ensure the entire experience across the customer journey is terrific. But you can’t win in a team sport if each individual plays by different rules. It’s crucial that the whole organization – from creative, to marketing, sales, finance, logistics, and support – be able to access and use consistent content. And yet, we’ve found that using existing content across departments and finding content quickly are two of the top challenges for content strategy decision makers.

We believe the way to overcome these challenges is by ensuring that all the sources of content in your organization are visible, searchable, and manageable, without disturbing what’s already working, so every department can go on doing what they have always done – using the systems, tools, and integrations they have always used, AND gain access to assets from across the entire organization. It’s worth noting that this advice is pretty radical. Content management vendors, especially Digital Asset Management vendors focused on rich media assets, have spent the last 20 years promising you all kinds of benefits, if only you migrate all assets into one system that they manage. This is a very different point of view. We acknowledge and recognize the reality that getting all assets into one system is really a Sisyphean task that will never, and can never, work. That isn’t to say that consolidating and migrating assets into central systems isn’t a good idea, because there are plenty of good reasons to do it.

But in any large organization it’s a task you’ll never finish because there’s always some new frontier of the organization, whether a newly acquired department, a reorganization, a group that just refuses to get along, or a set of assets so new and so different that your central system isn’t up to the challenge of managing them. So instead of trying to make organizational behavior fit a technological constraint, we think it’s better to build technology that matches how organizations – and the people in them – actually work. Now that doesn’t mean it’s a wild west of content. You don’t want that new campaign leaking before it’s ready, or someone finding the unapproved assets on another person’s desktop and using them by accident. So it’s important that a rich security and permissions in a secure content management system] ensures the right people have access to the right assets at the right time. And in an environment] with more diverse and to some degree unevenly described content, it’s essential to have great search technology so people can cast a broad net, then hone in quickly on exactly what they are looking for, without waiting for 5 or 10 seconds to get results. So don’t settle for a pitch of “centralize your content and the world will be your oyster” because it has never fully succeeded and probably won’t for you, either.

Embrace the whole organization. Embrace the diversity. Get everyone rowing in the same direction of fantastic customer experience – and win. In my next post in the series I’ll focus on how the cloud can help offload work from your system and your team, making both faster and more productive.