Interview with Ross Paterson: A sneak peek into the future


More data has been created in the last few years than in the rest of human history – much of that being digital content across a multitude of online platforms. And as new channels emerge, the 5G supercycle revs into full swing, and more screens come to more people, the volume and complexity of digital and printed content is only increasing. At the same time, print - although smaller - will likely have a role to play for years to come. 

WoodWing has been helping publishers, agencies, and brands manage this complexity and orchestrate their content for many years. The WoodWing marketing team sat down with CEO Ross Paterson to discuss how the organization is innovating to help customers with the demands of Content Orchestration as this complexity continues to increase. 


Welcome Ross, maybe you can start off by sharing what you are looking forward to for WoodWing over 2021.

Yes certainly. 2021 is going to be an exciting year for WoodWing - we are investing for growth, particularly in development and product. That means a few things. We just hired Amanda van der Leest-Rasch as CTO, to strengthen our leadership team. We are also hiring new technical talent to our software development team. And we are looking closely at acquisitions that will complement our existing solutions, and help our customers and prospects orchestrate their content. And finally, we are innovating our cloud offering, WoodWing Eos. Over the past years, our partners have built many powerful integrations for their customers in different verticals and markets. Over the coming years, we want to bring that functionality to the cloud and make it accessible to our customers globally. 


That is a lot of activity. Where do you think WoodWing has the biggest potential to bring new value?

There are a few ways to look at this. Our core focus areas remain the same - our long-term customers in the publishing industry, for example, will very much be a focus. We see a lot of potential in the agency vertical too, as agencies become more nimble, think more strategically about their processes and tools, and start to look at new business models. WoodWing is collaborating with a number of agencies that are thinking in these ways. And, of course, we continue to see marketing teams invest in solutions for Content Orchestration as the demands of faster time-to-market and new channels continue to increase. 

But there are other interesting areas to consider too. For example, organizations share enormous volumes of content internally - from organisational charts and internal policies, to training documentation and forms. The value and complexity of internal content increases as organizations grow and media proliferate. So I feel there is a big untapped opportunity for organizations to orchestrate their internal content too. This has the potential to improve productivity and synergy, as well as improve the employee experience, which helps contribute to staff retention. 


The WoodWing team talks to a lot of customers and partners. Have you identified any new trends or problems in 2021 so far? 

The problem has always been the same - and that is the issue of content spaghetti. By that I mean: files getting lost and needing recreation; people searching desktops and emails for the right versions of assets; workflows and approval processes getting bogged down due to a lack of structure and inadequate tools. Not to mention all the associated time waste and dangers that go with using the incorrect versions of assets. These inefficiencies can add up to considerable hidden costs for organizations - one figure I saw, I think from McKinsey, said that employees spend up to 20% of their time looking for files and making sure they have correct versions. Think about that cost.


You say content spaghetti has always been an issue. Why is it increasing now?

While this problem of content spaghetti has been consistent for years, the difference is one of scale. A few years ago TikTok didn’t exist, and watching video with mobile data was slow and expensive for the consumer. A few years before that, far fewer people had smartphones, and far fewer companies were investing in content, so for those that did the demands around speed and optimizing for channels were much lower. Nowadays, good content is a given in many businesses. But high quality content - optimized for different audiences, channels, and devices - is a strategic differentiator. And this means the demands are far greater.


Presumably, WoodWing has a solution for this issue?

When you look at these challenges, the solution is simple to understand, but can be challenging to achieve. The solution to content spaghetti - unstructured workflows, disorganized content and digital assets, and the general mess that goes with that - is Content Orchestration. This is where people and tools work seamlessly together to plan, create, distribute, and manage content. We have been helping organizations solve these challenges for many years. Our key solutions - WoodWing Assets and WoodWing Studio - thrive at the heart of any content workflow where efficiency and speed-to-market can deliver commercial advantage. Our implementation partners are also instrumental in this process. They sit down with a customer to understand their exact needs, recommend the most suitable solutions and workflows, and integrate WoodWing products seamlessly into their software stack.

However, the challenging part is that Content Orchestration is different for every organization.  Every organization has different goals and business models, requirements around content, existing solutions or workflows, and so on. That is why it’s important to have expert help such as through WoodWing’s partner network, the right tools in place to support storytelling processes, and the mindset that investing in content will pay dividends - in terms of faster time-to-market, more consistency, and better quality, but also as a point of differentiation for your business. 


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