Earlier this year, The Content Wrangler surveyed over 700 technical communication professionals from around the globe to learn as much as possible about the state of industry. The results of the 2016 Technical Communication Benchmarking Survey are not scientific, but they do provide us with meaningful data points and help us spot trends. Our findings paint a picture of the current state of technical communication, especially as it relates to advanced information management practices, approaches, tools and planned innovations. It provides us with a snapshot of what the best-of-breed firms are doing today—and what they plan to do tomorrow. It also provides us anecdotal evidence of emerging trends, as well as a way to benchmark our efforts against the best efforts of others.

What did we learn from the 2016 Technical Communication Benchmarking Survey?

A lot. In the four years since our last survey, significant changes have taken place. New content types—like video documentation—are being produced more often by more companies. Adoption of advanced information development management technologies like component content management systems (CCMS), XML authoring tools, and machine translation are planned innovations for firms hoping to lower costs and connect content to customers.

Request a free copy of the 2016 Technical Communication Benchmarking Survey summary today!

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The web is the dominant delivery channel for product content

Up from 59% in 2012, 91% of firms surveyed publish their content to the web, making it the most common delivery channel for product content. While nearly every kind of product content is being pushed to the web, the mobile web is still a challenge for many technical communication departments. Only 24% of respondents publish product content to mobile- ready formats and/or mobile device apps.

Print is still alive and well, despite what some may think

Despite what some may believe, print is not dead. While print may seem obsolete in many ways, today it’s still the second most common delivery channel for product content; 49% of companies surveyed craft print deliverables. By comparison, only 11% create content on CD-ROM and 12% on DVD, a 50% drop in the four years since we ran our last benchmarking survey.

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A few of the biggest challenges facing technical communication departments

Keeping content in-sync can be challenging in the best of situations. But, when content is prepared for multiple audiences, in multiple languages, to be delivered across multiple channels, things can get tricky.

The 2016 Technical Communication Benchmarking Survey found that the primary obstacles preventing technical content development teams from ensuring content consistency across channels are:

  • lack of a unified content strategy (42%)
  • software tools designed to do the job (41%)

Departmental silos were mentioned as a major obstacle for 34% of the technical communication teams surveyed. Others blamed:

  • content consistency challenges on a lack of governance (39%)
  • an absence of collaboration (38%)

Anecdotally, there appears to be a lack of awareness of what’s possible. Of those surveyed, 23% complained that advances in technical communication content development are invisible to others across the enterprise, indicating a need to share our success stories, metrics, best practices, and approaches with others.

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But wait, there’s more!

The 2016 Technical Communication Benchmarking Survey summary includes 8 pages of data covering topics such as:

  • Video documentation
  • Content strategy
  • Content reuse
  • Markup languages
  • Content quality
  • Terminology management
  • Multilingual content
  • Translation memory
  • Machine translation
  • Agile development
  • Innovations planned for the future
  • The most commonly used software products

A few details about the audience

The majority of survey respondents work for firms in the computer software and hardware sector (50%), followed by the financial services sector (7%), manufacturing (6%), life sciences and healthcare (6%), business services (4%), enterprise telecommunications (4%), universities and education (3%), defense and government (3%), mobile communication (2%), publishing and media (1%) and others.

Request a free copy of the 2016 Technical Communication Benchmarking Survey summary today!