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Smart Content In the Real World: Case Studies & Results

Today we highlight T2: Smart Content In the Real World: Case Studies & Real Results taking place at Gilbane Boston, December 1, 2:40 – 4:00pm at the Westin Copley.

XML content with semantic enrichment enables some powerful and interesting applications, including modular reusable topics, dynamic assembly of content by areas of interest, and distributed collaboration in the cloud. This session will describe what makes XML content smart and explore how it changes how we create and manage it with real world examples of smart content in action.

Moderators: Dale Waldt, Senior Consultant & Geoff Bock, Senior Analyst, Outsell’s Gilbane Group

Mike Iantosca, IBM Authoring Tools and Content Management System PDT Lead, IBM Corporate User Technologies
Evolution of Smart Content in the Enterprise
Devin Holmes, Executive Director, Warrior Gateway
Patrick Quinlin, Lead Curriculum Specialist, Citrix Education

Register today!

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What’s Hot in XML? Workshop on Smart Content Describes Leading-Edge Content Applications

What is hot in XML these days? I have been to a few conferences and meetings, talked with many clients, participated in various research projects, and developed case studies on emerging approaches to XML adoption. DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) is hot. Semantically enriched XML is hot. Both enable some interesting functionality for content delivered via print, on the web, and through mobile delivery channels. These include dynamic assembly of content organized into a variety of forms for custom uses, improved search and discovery of content, content interoperability across platforms, and distributed collaboration in creating and managing content.

On November 30, prior to the Gilbane Conference in Boston, Geoff Bock and I will be holding our 3rd workshop on Smart Content which is how we refer to semantically enriched, modular content (it’s easier to say). In the seminar we will discuss what makes content smart, how it is being developed and deployed in several organizations, and dive into some technical details on DITA and semantic enrichment.  This highly interactive seminar has been well received in prior sessions, and will be updated with our recently completed research findings.  More information on the seminar is available at

By the way, t The research report, entitled Smart Content in the Enterprise, is now available at the research section at It (now available from Outsell Inc) includes several interesting case studies from a variety of organizations, and a lot of good information for those considering taking their content to the next level. We encourage you to download it (it is free). I also hope to see you in Boston at the workshop.

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New Research from Outsell’s Gilbane Group Identifies Smart Content as Key to Broad Enterprise Adoption of XML

Global customer experience, content multi-purposing key drivers of next-generation XML business applications

September 30, Cambridge, MA – Outsell’s Gilbane Group, the analyst and consulting organization dedicated to content technologies, today announced the release of its latest study, Smart Content in the Enterprise: How Next Generation XML Applications Deliver New Value to Multiple Stakeholders.

Smart Content in the Enterprise offers a unique perspective on the XML market. Rather than focus on why companies adopt XML in the first place, the research examines the factors that contribute to broader adoption across an organization. “XML has delivered business value for more than a decade, but almost always at the departmental level within a single application. We wanted to know why organizations have struggled to move beyond the first silo of success and deploy XML in other areas where it can also deliver benefits, such as customer support,” comments Geoffrey Bock, study director and senior analyst with Gilbane.

The research underlying the study revealed that when organizations are successful with broad and valuable deployment, their XML content exhibits a set of common characteristics that make it “smart” in addition to structured. Smart content, as described in the study, is granular at the appropriate level, semantically rich, useful across applications, and meaningful for collaborative interaction.

Dale Waldt, senior analyst with Gilbane and co-author of the report, notes an important shift enabled by smart content. “We’re moving from repurposing to multi-purposing,” says Waldt. “Defining various uses of content leads to robust data models and enrichment processes that support multiple purposes for the content, allowing it to meet a broader range of business objectives. This is how new value for new stakeholders becomes the payoff for investments in smart content.”

Smart Content in the Enterprise identifies a pervasive emphasis on global customer experience as a key driver for smart content. The study explores the implications of smart content for business applications and defines the smart content technology landscape. It also provides guidance for companies who are ready to move beyond a single XML application silo and suggests a framework for developing a smart content roadmap. Case studies on smart content at Citrix, IBM, NetApp, Symitar, and Warrior Gateway round out the report.

Smart Content in the Enterprise draws on in-depth interviews with business and technologies leaders within organizations that have deployed XML, combined with Gilbane’s implementation expertise and deep knowledge of XML markets and technologies. The research will be valuable to managers of XML-based solutions who see a broader opportunity for XML within their organizations. The study will help them learn from the success of others, communicate value, build business cases, and constitute cross-functional teams. The report will also be useful for managers who are in the process of implementing XML and want to ensure that they are designing and building their applications to align squarely with contemporary user and content requirements. The study will also help technology and services providers develop offerings that enable smart content applications, address key issues and challenges, and market and position their products in ways to make their value propositions clear to buyers.

Smart Content in the Enterprise is available as a free download from the Gilbane Group website. The report is also available from study sponsors IBM, JustSystems, MarkLogic, MindTouch, Ovitas, Quark, and SDL. Additional insights and advice are provided on Gilbane’s XML analyst blog and through Gilbane’s XML and smart content consulting services.

About Outsell’s Gilbane Group

Outsell’s Gilbane Group provides analyst and consulting services dedicated to content strategies, practices, and technologies and their application to high-value business solutions. We have delivered quality market education and insight to global enterprises, governments, non-profits, publishers, and information providers since 1987. Outsell’s Gilbane Group analysts and consultants work with the entire community of stakeholders including investors, business and content professionals, enterprise buyers of IT, technology suppliers, and other consultant and analyst firms. We have organized over 70 educational conferences in North America and Europe, and our next event is Gilbane Boston 2010, November 30 through December 2. Information about our widely read newsletter, reports, white papers, case studies and analyst blogs is available at Outsell’s Gilbane Group is a part of Outsell, Inc., the only research and advisory firm focused on advancing the publishing and information industries.

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Mary Laplante Vice President and Lead Analyst
617.497.9443 ext 212

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Why Aren’t Publishers Moving to XML Repositories More Quickly?

As we start to delve into some of the interim results of our survey of book publishing professionals, there is a great deal of good data to mull over. While the results are preliminary (and we welcome your participation here), some trends are emerging.

One interesting set of data points surround how publishers are viewing XML, how extensively they work with it, and what technologies they are using to support the management of the XML. Among those using XML, it’s significant that only about half have invested in some kind of storage mechanism specifically for XML, including both relational databases and dedicated XML repositories such as Mark Logic server.

While that overall number might or might not be so striking, I am struck by what some publishers feel is a barrier to adopting an XML repository, namely, the “Challenge of building XML knowledge, skills, or awareness.”  This trumped more traditional barriers to technology adoption such as cost and the maturity of the technology and would seem, on balance, to be a solvable problem.


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Managing Smart Content: How to Deploy XML Technologies across Your Organization

Gilbane San Francisco 2010 pre-conference workshops are a great way to get up-to-speed quickly with a half-day deep dive. Today we would like to highlight:

Workshop C: Managing Smart Content: How to Deploy XML Technologies across Your Organization

Instructor: Dale Waldt, Senior Consultant, XML & Content Technologies, Gilbane Group

Smart content holds great promise. First with SGML and now with XML, we are marking up content with both formatting and semantic tags, and adding intelligence to electronic information. Using richly tagged XML documents that exploit predefined taxonomies, we are developing innovative applications for single source publishing, pharmaceutical labeling, and financial reporting. By managing content snippets in a granular yet coherent fashion, these applications are revolutionizing our capabilities to meet business needs and customers’ expectations.

What’s working and why? What are the lessons learned from these innovative applications? Does the rapid growth of web-based collaborative environments, together with the wide array of smart content editors, provide the keys to developing other business solutions? There are many promising approaches to tagging content while doing work. Yet we still face an uphill battle to smarten up our content and develop useful applications.

In this workshop, members of the Gilbane practice on XML technologies will share our experiences and provide you with practical strategies for the future. We will address a range of topics, including:

  • The business drivers for smart content
  • Some innovative content management techniques that make authors and editors more productive
  • The migration paths from ‘conventional’ documents to smart content
  • How to apply industry-specific taxonomies to tag content for meaning
  • The prospects for mash-ups to integrate content from disparate application communities

We will discuss both the rapidly developing technologies available for creating, capturing, organizing, storing, and distributing smart content, as well as the organizational environment required to manage content as business processes. We will identify some of the IT challenges associated with managing information as smart content rather than as structured data, and map strategies to address them. We invite you to join the conversation about how best to exploit the power of XML as the foundation for managing smart content across your organization.

Register today!

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Gilbane San Francisco pre-conference workshops posted

Preliminary program information for Gilbane San Francisco, May 18 – 20, 2010 will be posted this week. But you can now see the pre-conference workshop descriptions.

Workshop A: Insider’s Guide to Selecting WCM, Collaboration, and Social Software
Instructor: Tony Byrne, Founder, CMSWatch

Workshop B: Learn How to Develop an Actionable Intranet Strategy
Instructor: Scott Liewehr, Senior Analyst, Web Content Management, Gilbane Group

Workshop C: Managing Smart Content: How to Deploy XML Technologies across Your Organization
Instructor: Dale Waldt, Senior Consultant, XML & Content Technologies, Gilbane Group

Workshop D: A Methodology for Web Governance
Instructor: Christine Pierpoint, Partner, WelchmanPierpoint

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What is Smart Content?

At Gilbane we talk of “Smart Content,” “Structured Content,” and “Unstructured Content.” We will be discussing these ideas in a seminar entitled “Managing Smart Content” at the Gilbane Conference next week in Boston. Below I share some ideas about these types of content and what they enable and require in terms of processes and systems.

When you add meaning to content you make it “smart” enough for computers to do some interesting things. Organizing, searching, processing, and discovery are greatly improved, which also increases the value of the data. Structured content allows some, but fewer, processes to be automated or simplified, and unstructured content enables very little to be streamlined and requires the most ongoing human intervention.

Most content is not very smart. In fact, most content is unstructured and usually more difficult to process automatically. Think flat text files, HTML without all the end tags, etc. Unstructured content is more difficult for computers to interpret and understand than structured content due to incompleteness and ambiguity inherent in the content. Unstructured content usually requires humans to decipher the structure and the meaning, or even to apply formatting for display rendering.

The next level up toward smart content is structured content. This includes wellformed XML documents, content compliant to a schema, or even RDMS databases. Some of the intelligence is included in the content, such as boundaries of element (or field) being clearly demarcated, and element names that mean something to users and systems that consume the information. Automatic processing of structured content includes reorganizing, breaking into components, rendering for print or display, and other processes streamlined by the structured content data models in use.

Smart Content diagram

Finally, smart content is structured content that also includes the semantic meaning of the information. The semantics can be in a variety of forms such as RDFa attributes applied to structured elements, or even semantically names elements. However it is done, the meaning is available to both humans and computers to process.

Smart content enables highly reusable content components and powerful automated dynamic document assembly. Searching can be enhanced with the inclusion of metadata and buried semantics in the content providing more clues as to what the data is about, where it came from, and how it is related to other content.Smart content enables very robust, valuable content ecosystems.

Deciding which level of rigor is needed for a specific set of content requires understanding the business drivers intended to be met. The more structure and intelligence you add to content, the more complicated and expensive the system development and content creation and management processes may become. More intelligence requires more investment, but may be justified through benefits achieved.

I think it is useful if the XML and CMS communities use consistent terms when talking about the rigor of their data models and the benefits they hope to achieve with them. Hopefully, these three terms, smart content, structured content, and unstructured content ring true and can be used productively to differentiate content and application types.

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W3C Publishes Four XHTML Documents with Edits for Review

The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) XHTML2 Working Group has published four Proposed Edited Recommendations: XHTML 1.1 – Module-based XHTML – Second Edition, which serve as the basis for future extended XHTML ‘family’ document types; XHTML Basic 1.1 – Second Edition, includes the minimal set of modules required to be an XHTML host language document type, and in addition it includes images, forms, basic tables, and object support; XHTML-Print – Second Edition, designed for mobile printers and in environments where it is not feasible or desirable to install a printer-specific driver and where some variability in the formatting of the output is acceptable, and: XHTML 1.0 These updates incorporate known errata; each document links to a list of changes. The review period is open until 4 June.

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Webinar Series: Structured Content Throughout the Enterprise

Updated September 18
JustSystems has launched a comprehensive educational campaign intended to help technical communicators, LOB managers, and information managers extend the value of structured content outside of its established beachhead in techdoc applications. The campaign, titled “Developing a Strategic Roadmap for Structured Content,” comprises webinars, white papers, and an ROI Blueprint, a tool for identifying the business benefits of structured content throughout the enterprise. Gilbane Group is supporting the campaign with research, content, and webinar participation.
The three webinars look at how companies are leveraging structured content today, or planning to do so in the future. The first event is scheduled for September 11 and focuses on current practice and benchmarking your adoption against leading organizations. Guest speaker is Eric Severson, co-founder and CTO of Flatirons Solutions, the well-regarded professional services firm with deep expertise in content management and XML strategies and applications. Jake Sorofman from JustSystems rounds out the panel.
Register for one or all of the webinars in the series. Attendees will have access to the ROI Blueprint for Structured Content and will receive a Gilbane-authored state-of-the-market commentary after each event.
Update: The recording is now available.

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Sun & Microsoft on Open Document Formats & XML Strategy

It wasn’t too long ago that all document formats were proprietary, and vendors that sold authoring and publishing software had a really unfair advantage over their customers because it was so difficult and costly for organizations to convert their content from one proprietary system to another. It was the granddaddy of descriptive markup, SGML, that led the way to the infinitely improved situation we have today with seemingly universal support for XML, and tools like XSL, XQuery etc. So, if most major software applications support reading/writing of XML, including the 800 pound gorilla of office documents Microsoft Office, hasn’t the issue of proprietary formats gone away?
If you are in charge of protecting your organizations content/document assets, you better not be thinking your problems are over. If you are involved in sharing content with other organizations or among applications, you already know how difficult it is to share information without loss — if it is that difficult to share, how easy will it be to migrate to future applications?
Our keynote debate in San Francisco next week is all about helping you understand how to best protect and share your content. While there are some differences between the Microsoft and Sun positions represented by Jean Paoli and Tim Bray, I think they agree more than they disagree on the critical issues you need to consider. We’ll be looking at different aspects of the issue including technology, licensing, cost, and complexity vs. flexibility. For some background see Jon Udell’s posts here and here, and the Cover Pages here. Both contain links to additional info.
I almost forgot… What does this have to do with my earlier posts on the future of content management and Longhorn? Well, Office applications, like all content applications, should benefit from an operating system that can manage content elements and attributes that could be described in XML. Would this make document interchange easier? I don’t know, but it might be fun to explore this question in the session.
If you have a specific question you would like us to cover on the panel, send me an email or add a comment to this post and we’ll summarize what happens.
UPDATE: Jon says he is in Jean’s camp on custom schemas and Tim’s on XHTML. At our Boston panel I think all of us agreed – of course neither Tim nor Jean were there. Jon is tagging his posts on the conference with gilbaneSF2005.
We are using the category and (more wordy) tag Gilbane Conference San Francisco 2005 for all our SF conference postings.

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