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The Future State of Content: Notes from the SDL Executive Session in Palo Alto, CA

I recently joined Andrew Thomas of SDL to talk about the future of content organization and the role of taxonomy in artificial intelligence. I don’t want to commit a spoiler here, but I have to admit that in the end, we had to agree to disagree.

I believe that cognitive systems that use AI will create their own ways of organizing and labeling content. These systems of organization will be internal to the AI. They will not need to be exposed to the user. They will be significantly faster than our customary taxonomies.

Andrew believes that people are accustomed to searching for things using a taxonomy and that, for this reason, we will continue to need taxonomies in the future.

Our conversation was sparked by a half-day executive conference hosted by SDL in Palo Alto, California, on April 25. The combination of a beautiful spring day and a high turnout of SDL customers and prospects made anything seem possible – including the thought-provoking ideas outlined in the first presentation, “The Five Future States of Content." These are:

  1. Content will create itself.
  2. Content will be agile.
  3. Content will organize itself.
  4. Content will be secure.
  5. Content will be your best sales person.

Anyone who has ever tried to convince an enterprise (or even just a single department) to create, maintain, and consistently apply a taxonomy to content knows that state #3 – “content will organize itself" – cannot come soon enough!

AI systems have the capacity to process significantly more content, significantly faster, than we do. AI systems will be able to create more connections between and among content pieces. The systems will identify relationships and track them – relationships that mere humans would not ever see.

I agree that we will continue to think about content and search for it in a hierarchical, taxonomic manner. However, the information and answers that AI systems serve us will not be based on the same kind of human hierarchical categorization that we use. The AI systems will have their own organization – the content will organize itself, based on the algorithms in the AI.

Between the sheer processing power of AI and its ability to organize the content, we will be able to take advantage of far more answers to questions and solutions to problems than we can today.

SDL presented three additional talks, each building on the previous one:

  • Solving the Global Content Challenge
  • Leveraging Linguistic AI for Business
  • Case Studies – Preparing for the Future State of Content

In the final presentation, a case study was presented for each of the Five Future States of content. Seeing each State in action at different companies made the theoretical much more concrete.

As time goes on, I think we will see new and revolutionary ways to create, organize, and manage content. The promise of AI, and specifically the linguistic processing capabilities, will make it much easier to deal with the ever-increasing demands of content today and into the future.