The adoption of workstream tools is impressive. Slack alone has grown at a rate that makes it the fastest growing business application to-date. Microsoft Teams and the many other viable workstream tools are joining the movement and there is a clear epic being written about how the workstyles of teams are changing.

Traditionally, content has been crucial to many business processes. By content, I mean items that contain information. Like news, research reports, articles, internal documents, files and even the workstreams themselves. Content provides insight. Importantly, it is the medium for the insights and knowledge of others outside of the team or organization. Often it is these perspectives and insights that drive innovation and better results.

What is the role of outside content in the emerging workstream paradigm?

It should be big right? Workstreams are about teams moving projects of all sizes forward and content is about insight to work smarter.

But bringing content into the workstream model has some challenges. Done right there is huge value added. Done wrong, content can actually distract and diminish the effectiveness of the workstream approach. The two key considerations are the relevancy and context of the information injected into the workstream.

Often the first hurdle that “workstreamers” confront with content is that the worlds of workstreams and the worlds of content function completely differently. Slack and other tools enable the creation of channels that match the specific needs of teams in the context of their work. Teams can self-define channels around the work they are doing much easier than prior generations of tools. Once defined, messages, alerts, files, tasks, voice and other types of content can be leveraged in a very interactive and effective way. But note that all of these types of content are created by, contributed by, or organized by, people participating in the channel. What about all the content that does not work like that? The so-called outside content. That is where enormous opportunity exists.

Outside content is created continuously by others who are often subject matter experts. Some of this content functions as it has for decades, assembled by publishers and sold as products. Premium third-party content like journals, law and regulation compilations and analysis and news follow this model. However, there is also an entirely new class of web-based expert content. To be clear, while this content is web-based it should not be confused with the web in general. These are specific sources of expert perspective not the morass of stuff that is the “web”.

Effectively presenting relevant content in the context of a workstream is hard. There are many sources about many subjects. There simply isn’t a “source” that can be paired with a “channel”. Exploiting content as part of a workstream environment like Slack means discerning specific items of content that are relevant to a given channel. That is new. It is also definitely worth figuring out because workstream tools are where more and more work is happening. If the right content can be effectively presented in the context of a workstream lots of good things happen. For example, valuable outside perspectives can be incorporated into work, team members are able to work from shared perspectives, and the value of content assets can be fully exploited.

All of which are sources of competitive advantage and worth the effort.

What’s the strategy for content in workstreams? Please share your thoughts.

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