My local area enters phase 2 of reopening tomorrow which feels good. It’ll feel good to go back to my gym and be able to get out more.
While my job will remain primarily home-based, it’ll be nice to go out to lunch and to get a long-overdue haircut. It also means I’m going on vacation later this summer and be able to put my feet in the sand, eat crabcakes, and repeat.
I work in an industry that’s hungry to have their VPs, directors, and senior technical staff to become thought leaders. Informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas; turn ideas into reality and know and show how to replicate their success. For their writers not so much…
I took an interest in editorial reviews early in my career. That interest drove me to become a technical reviewer in the computer book industry for several years. I’m not sure they even have that role anymore. At the least publishers may not pay for that review anymore. Sitting through curt and incomplete document reviews made me take those extra steps because there had to be a better way.
Fast forward to today, I’m a stickler for kindness in the editorial review cycle:
I regularly discuss with a colleague the state of the cloud and how to make cloud messages resonate with readers He’s a solutions architect. I’m a technical writer. We work in allied professions, but he sees things I don’t see. What I came to see after a few discussions with him is how corporate cloud issues have an even more direct effect on content than other topics I’ve written about during my career.
Here are three ways cloud issues can hurt content development:
1. Lack of cloud subject matter expertise
The cloud is such a fast-moving and evolving topic. I’m just not talking the latest Amazon Web Services (AWS). Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Microsoft Azure. That news is only a part. There’s a plain lack of cloud expertise in organizations to support content development.
The cloud has its share of people who don’t belong. It happens with every major technology trend that hits the market. These are people grasping at the cloud to preserve their political stature. They can hijack the cloud message you need to communicate with your users/readers. Don’t fall for the PowerPoint slides go with people who have the right subject matter expertise in cloud topics.
My preferred subject matter experts for cloud content call themselves lifelong learners. If somebody doesn’t know something. That’s OK. We can figure it out together. There’s nothing worse than somebody BSing me they know something they don’t.
2. Constant cloud services and market evolution
The release velocity of AWS, GCP, and Azure blows past any other technology topics I’ve written about in the past ten years. It’s hard to keep up with the matter. I used to consider myself good at keeping up with technology. Now I find the cloud lapping me with the speed of new feature releases the startup ecosystem that’s sprouting up around the cloud contributes to the pace.
I’ve had the fortune to work with brilliant cloud people. By extension, I have contact with others through IDG TechTalk chats who range from the senior architect to the CxO level. They are people far smarter than me, and they each have challenges keeping up with new releases.
3. Business prevention disguised as change management
It’s no secret I’m no fan of organizational change management (OCM). Too many times I’ve seen OCM become business prevention. OCM should give business users the content and message they need to transition themselves into a cloud-first enterprise but unfortunately, they can bog users down in surveys and other feel-good strategies.
A better cloud change management strategy means:
Creating a direct channel with business users by elevating their representation in cloud content development decisions
Listening to the cloud pain points from the users themselves not through the filter of a change management team
Thinking in terms of frameworks, jumpstart guides, and other content that can enable your business users to start small in the cloud while feeling self-sufficient
Writers developing technical content about the cloud have to drink from a firehose with or without the challenges I outline in this post. My advice to counter such challenges is to include your writer in early on your cloud projects.
My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and content strategist based in the Washington, DC area. I’ve written for corporations and technology publications about such topics as the cloud, DevOps, and enterprise mobility. Follow me on Twitter: @willkelly