Blog 4.0

3 steps towards molecular content management

by mgirard on 4 January 2018 No comments

Information 4.0 is molecular. Yet many organizations do not shape their content to the molecular structures that are required for content to be handled by machines. What can you do to move from a big content blob to molecular content?

Step 1. Design a content model

In a lot of organizations, tech pubs teams are using structured content, and other teams are not. And most of the time it is very difficult to convince other groups of the point there would be for them to move to DITA, say.

You can still design a content model, even if the content is not structured, by doing an audit of the various content/assets/knowledge types that are being produced in your team, group, or company.

Find out how people name their content, how they define it. Sometimes people use different words for the same type of content, sometimes the opposite.

Then ask questions about the purpose of the content: what is it trying to achieve. Identify patterns, differences and similarities. Do that irrespective of the fact that the content is structured or not.

The content model is language-independent, but take the time to check that purpose and structure are similar in other languages.

Step 2. Integrate the content model into your entreprise taxonomy

When the content model is defined, iteratively integrate it into your system taxonomies.

You will usually have taxonomies for content types, formats, audiences, and product configurations. You will probably need help from enterprise architects and taxonomists to have your content model built-in.

Step 3. Automate content tagging

Because structure and metadata add meaning to text, the act of modeling content taxonomies and creating content that fits a structure will remain a human activity for a long time. It takes high mastery of language to organize thoughts and ideas into a meaningful, informational structure.

But the tagging of unstructured content, and the identification of patterns, can be automated with advances in Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning. Taxonomy and SEO metadata are likely to get more and more tightly integrated with Enterprise Content Management systems, and more and more standardized to enable a better flow of content molecules across systems.

No documents, just molecules. The right level of content can be published on any media, at any time, and in the right format (AR/VR, chatbots, mobile, and who know what the future holds).

How far are you to managing molecular content? Share your experience in the comments.


I manage digital customer experience projects. With a background in technical communication and information architecture, I develop scalable content strategies and organizational frameworks to deliver the right content at each stage of the customer experience.To me, content and organizations are living systems. I leverage collective intelligence and design thinking methodologies to deliver meaningful innovation.Outside of Software as a Service, I continue to investigate holistic practices through yoga, and I teach content strategy and design at university.I speak about enterprise content strategy at international conferences, and I am an active member of professional associations.

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