Microsoft Corp. laid out the next phase in its strategy for online services, offering a road map for new offerings that synthesize client, server and services software. Microsoft plans to deliver a variety of solutions during the coming months under two families of service offerings– “Live” and “Online.” “Live” services from Microsoft are designed primarily for individuals, business end-users and virtual work groups. These services emphasize ease of use, simplicity of access and flexibility, and are suited for situations where people either don’t have access to professional technical expertise or don’t require high levels of system management. “Online” services are for organizations with more advanced IT needs where power and flexibility are critical. Online services from Microsoft give businesses the ability to control access to data, manage users, apply business and compliance policy, and meet availability standards. Microsoft is providing business customers with the flexibility to choose between traditional on-premise implementations, services hosted by Microsoft partners and now Online services that reside in Microsoft’s datacenters. Microsoft also unveiled– Microsoft Office Live Workspace, a new Web-based feature of Microsoft Office that lets people access their documents online and share their work with others; Microsoft Exchange Labs, a new research and development program for testing new messaging and unified communications capabilities in high-scale environments; Continued customer and partner support for Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM; The renaming of the Microsoft Office Live hosted small-business service, a service dedicated to addressing small-business pain points, including core IT services and sales and marketing services, to Microsoft Office Live Small Business; and Microsoft BizTalk Services, a building block service that enables developers to build composite applications. Anyone can pre-register for the English language beta of Office Live Workspace at http://www.officelive.com
Over the next few months, I will post a series of 6-8 best practices for ensuring a high degree of usability in WCM implementations. This first entry in the series focuses on the ability for users to author content in the context of actual web pages.
While many vendors claim to support in-context editing, there is a lot of variation in how this feature is presented to users. In some cases, content authors fill in HTML forms and then click a preview button, which renders a virtualized copy of the web page. In other cases, authors double click on a staged version of a web page, which launches a WYSIWYG editor. Upon saving content in this editor, the author refreshes the web page and sees the updates. In the best cases, authors can simply edit content directly on web pages without having to fill in separate web forms or to launch an external editor. Content on web pages can be edited just as though it were in MS Word.
These differences may at first seem trivial, but it quickly becomes apparent to those who spend much time authoring content or creating web pages that eliminating unnecessary steps and reducing the number of applications in these highly iterative processes produces dramatic time savings throughout the organization. For example, if an enterprise has 25 content authors who each maintain 10 web pages daily, and each page update takes just 10 extra minutes because of redundancies, the time wasted over one year totals more than 10,000 hours. This represents about $500,000 of unnecessary labor costs.
Recommendation to enterprises: Be sure to analyze carefully during vendor demonstrations exactly how content can be edited directly from a web page. The most highly usable WCM systems will allow you to treat the web page like word processor.
Xyleme Inc. announced the immediate availability of Xyleme LCMS 3.1. This is Xyleme’s newest version of its single-source solution for learning content reuse. Organizations use reusable learning objects from Xyleme LCMS to leverage training materials across any learning modality and to create a customized and contextual learning experience for each learner. Xyleme LCMS ease-of-use has been enhanced for its authoring component. A new configurable workspace provides multiple editor windows for simplified drag-and-drop and image and hotspot utilization, and new virtual document features such as find-and-replace and visual displays of version differences. A new tool allows organizations to automatically convert PowerPoint presentations into reusable XML learning objects. Text, bulleted lists, images, and tables are automatically transformed to individual assets that can be mixed, matched and reused across all blended learning solutions. Users have the ability within Xyleme LCMS to define the content assets to be included in any given output. Custom filtering also allows for the on-demand publishing of custom content that is based on user profiles, providing organizations the vital ability to provide a contextual learning experience. Xyleme has added mobile learning to supported outputs via the optimization of its search and navigation features. Reusable learning objects including text, images, audio and Flash can be pushed on-demand to mobile devices supporting these formats for real-time performance support. SCORM 2004 Release 3, is supported. http://www.xyleme.com
You have probably noticed a fair degree of skepticism among technology bloggers about search products and search add-ons to other products. There have been quite a few articles lately that generalize “search” into one monolithic group of technologies. You need to really read between the lines to find the “kind of” search that is meaningful to your “kind of” enterprise. If you go back to one of my first blog entries you’ll see I noted that “the market is, frankly, a real mess.” Sue Feldman has been clear that she, too, believes the field to be a “muddle.” Steve Arnold routinely lets us all know how Google’s patent filings suggest a path toward future disruptions in the search marketplace.
Why then would anyone invest in search today? Do it because there are certainly enough really good and appropriate solutions for most enterprises. These may not be in the price range you would like, and may require more overhead support to implement than you think you should need, but you cannot be paralyzed by what the “next big thing might be” because it might not happen for a really long time or at all. You may find a solution today that solves a lot of immediate searching problems for your enterprise and continues to evolve with the needs of your organization.
That said, you need to keep educating yourself and your peers. This article appeared in the paper version of Information Week Aug. 6, 2007 as The Ultimate Answer Machine, but in the online version as The Ultimate Search Engine. It conflates all kinds of search in a single message that the average non-expert buyer wouldn’t be able to sort out. In its product box you have 13 products including Web search and enterprise search mixed together with no differentiation. I’m tracking over 80 products that solve some kind of enterprise search problem and new ones come to my attention every week. Take a look at the online article and be sure to look at reader comments to see more diverse views than just mine. Think about whether what you read makes good business sense.
I could load you up with two dozen interesting articles from just the past week but recently these have caught my attention for more self-education. Check out: Fight Against Infoglut, in Information Week on April 7, 2007, Search technologies for the Internet by Henzinger, Monika. Science, pp. 468-471, 07/27/2007, and Enterprise Search – More than just Google, Analyst Perspectives Consensus Report (these last two are paid content).
Going forward, you will find some interesting perspectives on Oracle’s position in the enterprise search marketplace if you sit in on their Webinar, Oct. 10th. Finally, I hope you can attend the upcoming Gilbane Boston Conference, Nov. 27th – 29th. The case studies and panel discussions will have something for every type of solution. I’ll keep you posted on selected upcoming happenings as they appear; keep your ear to the ground and eyes focused.
Vamosa announced Vamosa Content Migrator for IBM Lotus Quickr, a new way for organizations to fast start their Lotus Quickr implementation. Lotus Quickr is a Web 2.0 based collaborative content offering, designed to transform the way everyday business content, such as documents and rich media, is stored and shared, to enable more effective team collaboration for innovation. Vamosa Content Migrator for Lotus Quickr enables organizations to unleash the potential of their collective IQ faster by pre-loading documents and rich media into Lotus Quickr team places with automated content migration tools. Vamosa’s software enables faster implementation of Lotus Quickr’s set of collaborative content and team services including wikis and team blogs. By migrating content from file servers, intranets and legacy systems into Lotus Quickr’s scalable content repositories, Vamosa helps organizations implement Quickr faster. Vamosa Content Migrator for IBM Lotus Quickr software is expected to be available before the end of 2007. Pricing will be available later in the year. http://www.vamosa.com