While quantum physics — the study of matter and energy at the most fundamental level — may seem far afield from the everyday world, some of its core concepts are apt metaphors for what’s emerging in the world of B2B content. Increasing B2C-like expectations from audiences and advances in AI, automation, and analytics will fundamentally change the way we think about content and how it’s used to support the customer experience.

Schrödinger’s Cat: The State Of Content As A Potentiality

In Erwin Schrödinger’s famed experiment, a cat in a box is used to represent the quixotic nature of subatomic particles, which seemingly exist simultaneously as both “waves” and “particles.” The cat in the box, accompanied by a few life-ending accoutrements, is thought to be both alive and dead at the same time, until the box is opened and the cat is seen. The point of the experiment is that nothing about matter is certain until it’s observed.

Today, content experiences are too often formulaic when actual audience expectations aren’t. In the future, content experiences must be dynamic, not predefined. B2B content will achieve a quantumlike state in which it exists in potentiality as a “wave” and only becomes a “particle” (i.e., content experience) under the conditions defined by an observer (i.e., audience). Modular content, AI, automation, and advanced analytics will work together in real time to provide an infinite number of highly contextualized content experiences that are created and delivered in real time based on digital signals (i.e., observable actions) from audiences.

In order to create these dynamic content experiences, B2B organizations will have to advance their content engine maturity significantly beyond where they are today. For example, while 74% of marketing organizations recognize that buyers expect personalized interactions, fewer than 30% plan to focus on real-time, contextualized interaction capabilities in the next 12 months, as Forrester’s Marketing Survey, 2022, shows. And nearly half — 48% — of organizations aren’t using the modular content production approaches needed to fuel personalization.

Organizations that want to deliver on the promise of real-time personalization will need to increase the sophistication of their content operations and technology ecosystems to more effectively capture digital signals, parse them at scale, and deliver the right content in the moment based on the intelligence those signals provide. Before the end of this decade, programs and campaigns created over the course of weeks or months and then activated based on historical assumptions will be considered an antiquated approach to marketing and customer experience (CX) delivery. The cat, in that scenario, is indeed not alive when the box is opened.

Information As The Foundation Of Reality: The Paradox Of Content And Data

Scientists in recent decades have suggested that information provides the building blocks for the cosmos — for reality itself. The late physicist John Archibald Wheeler referred to this notion as “it from bit,” with “it” referring to the universe and “bit” meaning the information that is its foundation. It’s a provocative theory that serves us well, metaphorically speaking, in our look at the future of B2B content.

In the digital experience, content is also the foundation of reality. By its very nature, content (i.e., information) provides a sensor for capturing interaction data. Once an audience engages with content, a signal is generated (i.e., data) that can be interpreted to decide the next-best interaction. When we boil that down, content, in essence, creates data but also is data.

What’s more, it’s largely the metadata within content that we need in order to build sophisticated CX data models — to learn what customers do, need, and want across all customer lifecycle touchpoints. Because content fuels so much of the buyer journey and post-sale customer lifecycle, organizations cannot optimize the customer experience until they dramatically improve their content data and analytics capabilities.

Content metadata and taxonomy — the building blocks of content insights — can exponentially enrich CX data models, personalization, and AI optimization. Yet according to Forrester’s 2022 State Of B2B Content Survey, only 18% of B2B marketers have a universal taxonomy within marketing, and only 4.5% have a universal taxonomy across sales, marketing, and product functions. Twenty-nine percent also report that they still do not have any method of tracking content attribution at all.

To prepare for the future, organizations must prioritize a focus on metadata and taxonomy mastery to enable effective personalization, provide nuanced CX data and insights, and train AI engines for accurate, autonomous decision-making.

The Future Of B2B Content Is Closer Than You Think

Discover the change agents impacting the future of B2B content.

B2B organizations need to elevate the role of content far beyond where it is today and make it a top priority in their digital transformation efforts. The goal: Build a future-ready content engine that can deliver measurable, connected content experiences across all CX touchpoints and technologies now and adapt to the coming content realities rapidly emerging.

To learn more about the coming content realities and learn how to prepare, please join us May 2–4 at Forrester’s B2B Summit North America in Austin, Texas, or via a digital experience. We’ll share more predictions and recommendations in our keynote, “Time Travel And Transformation: The Future Of B2B Content,” and in other related sessions, including “Schrödinger’s Cat And B2B Content: The Quantum Mechanics Of Contextualization” and “Building A More Intelligent Content Stack With AI, Automation, And Analytics.” We hope to see you there!