A seamless path to centralizing digital content operations

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A seamless path to centralizing digital content operations

by Horizontal Digital


Next steps after a Sitecore DAM implementation

Since Horizontal Digital started its Sitecore Content Hub learning path about two years ago, we have heard one question asked repeatedly from digital marketers living in cities like Dallas, Minneapolis, and Juneau. 
“What do I do after the DAM?”  

DAM refers to the digital asset management module that most clients get first when they buy Content Hub, which has an acronym-rich vocabulary that is confusing for even us “experts” to understand. So, we were relieved to hear at Sitecore Symposium that the software company is simplifying its licensing approach to make everything about Content Hub’s offerings easier to understand. 

It starts with a DAM 

Most people who work in the Sitecore ecosystem already know Sitecore DAM, the core module of the cloud-based Content Hub. It gives marketers a “central source of truth” for content marketing assets that include images, videos, documents, fonts, 3D files and more. The intent is to give creators, designers and developers a “one-stop shop” for all the files they need to do their jobs day in and day out. 

Once in Content Hub, the assets can be used in many different ways. You can create optimized images for a variety of use cases and connect the DAM to various other systems in a company’s digital marketing ecosystem. 

All companies need a digital asset management system and strategy, if you ask me. But once you get all your digital assets in one place, the real fun begins. 

After the DAM: What’s next? 

After you consolidate your marketing assets in one place through Sitecore DAM, your marketing world really opens, but that also means you need a way to navigate through it all. 

  • But before you do anything, we recommend you ask yourself a few key questions: 
  • How is marketing content prioritized & managed? 
  • How are content elements reused across campaigns? 
  • How would you categorize your content creation workflow? 
  • Do you have a single source of truth for content engagement reporting? 
  • How do you test content? 
  • What content, marketing and technology team members are involved? 
  • What KPIs will be used to measure success? 
  • How do you measure and report on success? 

Once you have asked (and hopefully started to answer) those key questions, you should be armed with enough information to talk about extending your Content Hub licensing. Let’s start by talking about content operations, which is of interest to anyone who runs digital content/marketing teams. 

Meet Content Hub Operations 

Content Hub Operations combines the Content Hub modules content marketing platform (CMP) and marketing resource management (MRM) into one bundle. 

For those of you unfamiliar with these modules: 

  • CMP allows organizations to use Content Hub as a place to centralize their content operations. That includes social media and content publishing, strategy, calendaring and more. 
  • MRM allows resource management and project management from Content Hub, which enables project managers and resource teams to do their work from Content Hub. 

The goal is a software ecosystem that facilitates omni-channel management and personalization strategy in an “atomic content age” for teams wanting to fully embrace centralized digital content operations. Atomic content is content that is structured for digital distribution in a headless delivery world. What is the formula for atomic content? 

Ct ÷ Md + Bl + Re = Infinite Content Possibilities 

In other words, content types (Ct) that are broken down into metadata fields (Md) and infused with business logic (Bl) and relationships (Re) give marketers and developers the foundational elements to build great digital experiences whether you are creating a website, kiosk, streaming TV service or whitepaper in a headless delivery framework. 

With Sitecore Connect, Content Hub already ties nicely to Sitecore XM and XP, where editors can retrieve assets from Content Hub in an integrated editing environment. 

When you layer on top Sitecore Content Operations, you add the ability to create structured content types with associated metadata and relationships so that digital marketers can consolidate their workflows in one place and developers can use that creative output to power digital experiences. 

As importantly, companies can ensure only brand-approved assets are used in digital marketing efforts, which is one of the business benefits of centralized content operations. Remember when KFC changed its logo from “Finger Lickin’ Good” at the beginning of the pandemic out of fear the fried chicken lovers would spread COVID? Can you imagine doing that sort of enterprise slogan change without some sort of centralized digital distribution system to control it all? 

Experience Edge for scalability in headless

“Experience Edge makes Content Hub data available in the cloud using distributed data delivery platform with a GraphQL endpoint,” explained Sarvesh Jain, a Sitecore developer and technology lead at Horizontal Digital. In other words, Content Hub makes it possible for developers to take the API-driven output from Content Hub and use it in digital delivery.  

Benefits include: 

  • Scalability - Publish content to a highly scalable content delivery network (CDN) 
  • Reaches customers across all channels - Publish Sitecore content to any device or channel (watches, phones, tablets, voice-controlled devices and so on)
  • Integrates with any platform - All applications can make application programming interface (API) calls and consume content from GraphQL endpoint 
Creative automation solution 

Creative automation is the process of tying graphic assets and digital data together to create smart templates, which allow companies to produce graphic assets like PDFs at scale. In Content Hub, smart templates are driven by CHILI Publish, one of the nation’s top creative automation providers. 

The end goal is to empower companies by: 

  • Allowing designers to stay creative
  • Allowing non-designers to produce professional graphic assets at scale without design assistance 

Under Content Hub’s Print license, CHILI Publish is available in an inline editing experience that allows brand-approved assets from within Content Hub to be exposed within Smart Templates. When you combine those assets with data from Content Hub, the presentation options power outputs that include websites, PDFs and more. The two integrated software systems together power Smart Print Templates that editors can use to create localized publications for regions and languages. 

There is set up involved, so you will want to work with an implementation partner like Horizontal Digital on your initial proof of concept to make sure your teams can learn from the ground up in the right way. 

What about Content Hub One? 

If you work in the Sitecore ecosystem, you have probably heard about Content Hub One, a new product built on top of the Content Hub platform. It is a headless and lightweight content management system (CMS) with some content lifecycle management abilities with a lightweight DAM included. 

Developers can leverage a rich set of software development kits (SDKs) and APIs supporting popular front-end frameworks, enabling enterprises to build cool things quickly, which is the point of all this digital stuff anyway. 

It lacks the other modules that Content Hub includes but can be considered by companies that want a lightweight and straightforward headless publishing solution with trained teams willing to take a leap into headless with a supporting strategy to get there. 

I use the word “strategy” with intention. Building modern digital experiences at the enterprise level requires coordination, creative aptitude, and the ability to technically execute with long-term enterprise-level support. So, if you ask your digital teams what "headless” means and they come back with responses like “horseman?” you should talk to a partner about the road ahead. 

Without the right strategy at the get-go, we promise it will be a bumpy ride.  

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