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Communicating in the 21st Century

The necessity for content management and the cost effectiveness of single sourcing are well established concepts in the US and other parts of the world. But Australia is lagging behind.

The Technical Communication in the 21st Century conference presents an opportunity for Australian Technical Communicators to prepare for big changes in their careers.

The changes start with the arrival of technical communicator certification from tekcom and the STC. But one thing has not changed—the discipline of our profession: to identify, specify, design, produce and deliver the right product for the right price. (It is the same discipline of every profession, including doctors, lawyers and accountants.) While anyone needs to convey complex information to others, that discipline will apply. The tools for executing each step will change over time, but the discipline won't go away.

The move to single sourcing is a big step for any organisation, because we need to think about what our customers need and what we want them to do with the information we provide. And after observing the changes over the last five to ten years in technical communication, we need to make sure our companies can easily adapt to unknown future changes.

There are four ways to prepare. The first is to use an Information Model to define the future needs of our customers and where we think the company wants to be in five year's time. The second is to consider the advantages and value of taking a standards-based approach to ensure future interoperability. The third is to identify the tools that seem best suited to the Information Model and the tools that best meet the company's budget. The fourth is to test both categories of tools and make a proper value-for-money business proposal to the company board.

ISO 26531 (Content management for product life-cycle, user and service management documentation) is essential for the 21st Century. As with all standards, a standard is not a tool. A standard tells you what to do, not how to do it. In the continuously changing world of creating content and the economic value of reusing it, ISO 26531 is as necessary for a healthy bottom line as sales and satisfied customers.

In the 20th Century companies controlled their products through the whole product life cycle. Customers were a necessary evil because they paid the wages, but they were pesky, demanding people and trying to keep them satisfied was a marketing art form. Not so in the 21st Century. Already social media is forcing companies to treat customers with more respect and to pay much more attention to what they want. Combine that change with the already perceptible fall in 20th Century stalwarts such as PDF output in favor of on-line formats and the 21st Century is clearly becoming quite a different place.

To see the slides for the presentations, click on each box below.

Technical Communication Framework for the 21st Century

Professional development will be the norm. Certification will be standard for getting most jobs.

Information Development in the 21st Century

Information development relies on identifying, specifying, designing, producing and delivering the right product. The tools will be different.

Single Sourcing in the 21st Century

Irrespective of the publication path, write once and use many times will be the norm. It will be more efficient and cost effective than the alternatives.

Single Sourcing Tools for the 21st Century

Mainstream communication will be standards-based. Ensuring interoperability and delivery to every medium. Most business systems will publish direct to consumer devices.

Content Management in the 21st Century

A standard is not a tool. It tells you what to do but not how to do it. It ensures interoperability. It saves time and money. All true for ISO 26531.

Communicating in the 21st Century

Social media will be the scythe of deaf and blind companies. The successful ones will ask what consumers want and deliver it quickly ... bug free.

Future Trends?

Searches will be based on "last updated". PDF will fade. Voice input the norm.

When you need time to think, watch this space.


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