Knowledge is King (Content is Just a Joker)
You've heard the expression that content is king.
OK. Don't forget it entirely...
Great content remains important, of course, for many reasons from SEO to establishing credibility and sales enablement. But it's also table stakes.
A few companies recognized or stumbled into the content opportunity in the late 00s, seized it, and haven't looked back.
Everyone else tries to catch up in a zero sum wrestling match for content relevance.
Again, I'm not saying that's not important. It is. And almost every company should do more.
But there's an opportunity today that I believe is analogous to the SEO & content greenfield of 10-15 years ago.
Being the first and dominant mover in creating your industry's public knowledge graph.
What is a Knowledge Graph?
It's essentially a database that contains interlinked information. An industry knowledge graph, obviously, does that for an industry.
That's hugely valuable in and of itself. Think an industry "wiki" that is sponsored by your brand and to which people turn for insight.
The emphasis is on "interlinking" or bi-directional linking.
I think (hope!) we've passed the nadir of oversimplification - you know everything has to be conveyed in 3 slides, each with 3 bullet points. The reality is that business is tremendously complex. As much as we silo departments and functions, we suppress the reality that things are connected. (Intrigued? Check out the Knowledge Project podcast with Roger Martin - developer of the Integrative Thinking concept and author of Creating Great Choices - A Leader's Guide to Integrative Thinking for more.)
The reality is that business is immensely complex, and that complexity is reflected in the challenges of manufacturing marketing and sales. There is no longer any such distinction as a sales OR marketing question. Decisions that plant engineering makes impact corporate brand managers and vice versa.
Yet very few companies, much less industries, acknowledge this. Part of that hesitance is due to the mantra about (over) simplification. Part is simply because there is no reasonable method to achieve it.
There are systems that have tried. Each has serious flaws.
- Reference resources (like Wikis) have to be indexed - in other words the structure is dictated and the use/outcome is therefore largely preordained.
- Forums (like Slack) allow people to ask questions - and will get isolated, biased answers if someone happens to see the inquiry.
- Industry associations - create some centers of excellence (but it's proprietary and stilted)
- Professional associations - same
Among these there is no true, ubiquitous knowledge graph.
More importantly, there is no "communal brain." There's no "collective cognition." There's no resource which simultaneously captures and delivers complex, interlinked information AND foments the collaborative creation of new solutions and best practices.
Imagine the power of that....
For a Company
What's the hardest part of onboarding a new knowledge worker? Laptop, business cards and insurance forms? Of course not. It's knowledge management.
And that's just for the rookie....what about the industry experts who have 30 years of application experience in your company.
The ability to build a knowledge graph which incorporates all perspectives, disciplines and themes from within your business is a massive competitive advantage. And it's hard.
That's why McKinsey and other global consulting firms have entire knowledge management practices.
For an Industry
It's even harder across an industry.
The stakeholders often aren't connected and have never been invited to collaborate.
In the packaging industry capital equipment space, for instance, today's industry knowledge graph needs to include IIoT specialists, marketing, merchandising, sales, logistics, engineering, food science, sustainability, e-commerce, demographics, regulatory, experts in plastics, paper and other materials, track-and-trace experts, and automation experts - in addition to the folks who normally participate in machinery procurement discussions.
For many of these disciplines there's traditionally precious little interaction. Their mutual clients may be their only, indirect, connection.
An industry knowledge graph can pull all of them together - not only to create the definitive knowledge base, but more importantly to enable and codify the "collective cognition" that will fuel the discovery of new answers to old problems.
For the Company That Leads its Creation for an Entire Industry!
Take it a step further.
Imagine that your company has taken the lead and created the knowledge graph for your industry.
Actually "created" is unfair. The nature of this effort is that it will be ongoing, and ever richer as it develops.
But how would that position you? As the sponsor, coordinator and lead contributor to this amazing industry resource?
It would be an awareness and referral engine.
For companies that aspire to provide "solutions" and value, this would complement SEO and content marketing with an an amazing manufacturing marketing resource.
A Technical Resource
Of course this isn't necessarily easy to visualize, or to plan - much less to execute.
That's why we're ready to help companies roll knowledge graphs out for their industries.
Our primary expertise is in industrial manufacturers, but we're able to support other B2B businesses in this effort as well.
Our program provides framework, plan and technology "in a box." You just have to provide the industry knowledge, an editor/moderator, and connections to diverse industry SMEs.
With your vision and commitment, and our approach, we can have you up and running inside of 90 days, leading your industry in an innovative and valuable way that will mature over years to come.
It's not going to be easy - if you've tried content marketing you know that. We will make it simple though.
We'll worry about the details and take you through the process step-by-step.
A Vision For the Future
The traditional metrics of business success (sq ft, employees, revenue, units shipped, years in business, etc.) are increasingly ephemeral.
What's more important is your firm's ability to impact your customers' business with their customers.
That can only be achieved with a comprehensive and detailed understanding of the whole ecosystem.
So this industry knowledge graph project is what you need to do to hold your lead or displace traditional competitors - just for your own purposes.
By jumping on it early you'll actually cement your position by becoming the neural center of your industry.