Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
09:06 AM

Lots Of Messages, How Much Engagement?

We're churning out emails, docs, presentations faster than ever. "Content telemetry" looks to measure the impact of all that fury.

If you send your slide deck around and no one compliments or criticizes, did your idea matter? For all our advances in digital communication, one problem seems woefully overlooked: engagement. We are producing more documents daily than our ancestors dreamed possible, and yet we have only the crudest ways of telling if anyone is paying attention.

This exasperating experience may be a fact of life in sales (and why so many of us run from sales), but engagement takes on a different urgency when it comes to communicating with colleagues about something like an important data security alert or critical compliance failure. For many a CIO, the ability to foster user engagement -- and know whether communication is working -- equals job security.

That's why I got excited recently while talking with an entrepreneur about "Content Telemetry." Now, telemetry as a concept is not new -- we've been measuring things at a distance, as the Greek roots of "telemetry" implies, for eons. Today, we use telemetry to relay real-time information from a host of machines and control systems, including oil pipelines, medical devices, and spacecraft.

What makes Content Telemetry so intriguing to me is its focus on measuring the impact of creative output. Every day, we work to produce that summary email, winning sales pitch, or compliance update only to wonder: Did I influence anything? Does anyone care?

The goal of Content Telemetry is to answer those kinds of qualitative questions quantitatively. While we do measure some interactions today, they tend to be on a very simple basis -- whether someone clicked, visited, downloaded, retweeted, or liked. These types of measurements fail to tell us what we really want to know. Was this exchange helpful? Did it inspire others to act? Are these just bots responding to me?

So, how exactly does one measure engagement?

That's where that conversation that got me interested comes in. Michael Kolowich, CEO of KnowledgeVision Systems, is quick to point out that Content Telemetry is still in its "infancy," but he and his team have taken early steps in helping to define what engagement measurement looks like.

KnowledgeVision started out life as a video production company before morphing into a software company by creating a platform to gauge if its video product was successful. The end result is a series of easy to use applications that takes existing video presentations and lets you add interactive features such as embedded surveys, clickable footnotes, and sharing options. Users can provide important engagement data while viewing the content.

In essence, the medium becomes the messenger.

KnowledgeVision then takes the resulting clickstream and turns it into an aggregate measure of engagement -- an "Engagement Score." The Engagement Score and its underlying data are then conveyed back to corporate systems such as marketing automation, CRM, or learning management systems.

For example, a user that quickly clicks through half the slides may reveal low engagement, while a viewer who shares specific snippets of the content with multiple parties reveals something quite different. The latter viewer has connected the content to his or her personal brand. For good or for ill, that viewer is engaged.

We still have a very long ways to go before presentations are truly bidirectional communication systems. That said, new apps like KnowledgeVision's Knovio for the iPad point to the right direction. When communicating important compliance or security information, which may have critical ramifications for your organization, you may well profit by being on the bleeding edge of this particular idea.

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E. Kelly Fitzsimmons is a well-known serial entrepreneur who has founded, led, and sold several technology startups. Currently, she is the co-founder and director of HarQen, named one of Gartner's 2013 Cool Vendors in Unified Communications and Network Systems and Services, ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Ninja
5/8/2014 | 9:13:01 AM
Re: What content types?
A combination of automatic measurements based upon reading time, format, venue, etc. plus user-entered ratings would provide a lot of valuable data for publishers.
User Rank: Apprentice
5/7/2014 | 11:02:45 AM
Re: What content types?
I wonder whether the technology could enable ratings, shares etc of specific content to be tracked and linked to search engine ranking.

If I receive a sales presentation that has a good infographic in it, I would rate it highly. It's probably useful to someone else looking for a similar product or service, so that high rating could be seen by Google, twitter etc and rank the content well, or at least a synopsis.
User Rank: Ninja
5/5/2014 | 12:27:36 PM
Re: What content types?
That complete engagement picture has been elusive up to this point. The technology appears to have the secrets to unlocking it. Custom content based upon the preferences and personality of each reader is where the content engine money is for the future.
User Rank: Author
5/5/2014 | 11:26:35 AM
Re: What content types?
Measuring matters, and as Laurie notes, getting data on how InformationWeek readers consume and engage with content has taught us a lot. One key lesson is that there isn't a single metric that reveals all about engagement. Total number of readers, social sharing, comments -- these and other factors tell different things about engagement with an article.
User Rank: Author
5/2/2014 | 3:45:36 PM
What content types?
Kelly, interesting technology. As journalists, we are seeking new ways to measure content engagement, too. What kind of content does the tool work with at this point? Presentations, video, other content types?
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