Curated for content, computing, and digital experience professionals

Year: 2009 (Page 2 of 40)

Observations from Gilbane Boston 2009

The 2009 version of the Gilbane Boston conference was held last week. It was the second one I have attended and my first as a track coordinator (I designed the Collaboration and Social Software track and made it happen.) The event was well attended (c. 1100 people) and the number of sponsors and exhibitors was up significantly from last year’s Boston conference. Many of the sessions I attended offered valuable insights from speakers and audience members. All in all, I would label the conference a success.

The Collaboration and Social Software track sessions were designed to minimize formal presentation time and encourage open discussion between panelists and audience members instead. Each session focused on either a common collaboration challenge (collaborative content authoring, content sharing, fostering discussions, managing innovation) or on a specific technology offering (Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and Google Wave.) The sessions that dealt with specific technologies produced more active discussion than those that probed general collaboration issues. I am not sure why that was the case, but the SharePoint and Wave sessions spawned the level of interactivity that I had hoped for in all the panels. The audience seemed a bit reticent to join in the others. Perhaps it took them a while to warm up (the SharePoint and Wave sessions were at the end of the track.)

Here are some other, high level observations from the entire Gilbane Boston 2009 conference:

Twitter: Last year (and at Gilbane San Francisco in June 2009) attendees were buzzing about Twitter, wondering what it was and how it could be used in a corporate setting. This year the word “Twitter” was hardly uttered at all, by presenters or attendees. Most audience members seemed to be fixated on their laptop or smartphone during the conference sessions, but the related tweet stream flow was light compared to other events I’ve attended this quarter. The online participation level of folks interested in content management seems to mirror their carbon form patterns. Most are content to listen and watch, while only a few ask questions or make comments. That is true across all audiences, of course, but it seemed especially pronounced at Gilbane Boston.

SharePoint 2010: This topic replaced Twitter as the ubiquitous term at Gilbane Boston. If I had a dollar for every time I heard “SharePoint” at the conference, I would be able to buy a significant stake in Microsoft! Every company I consulted with during the event was seeking to make SharePoint either their primary content management and collaboration platform, or a more important element in their technology mix. Expectations for what will be possible with SharePoint 2010 are very high. If Microsoft can deliver on their vision, they will gain tremendous share in the market; if not, SharePoint may well have seen its zenith. Everything that I have heard and seen suggests the former will occur.

Google Wave: This fledgling technology also generated substantial buzz at Gilbane Boston. The session on Wave was very well attended, especially considering that it was the next-to-last breakout of the conference. An informal poll of the session audience indicated that nearly half have established a Wave account. However, when asked if they used Wave regularly, only about 20% of the registered users responded affirmatively;. Actual participation in the Wave that I created for attendees to take notes and discuss the Collaboration track online underscored the poll results. Most session attendees said they see the potential to collaborate differently, and more effectively and efficiently, in Wave, but cited many obstacles that were preventing them from doing so at this time. Audience members agree that the Wave user experience has a long way to go; functionality is missing and the user interface and features that are there are not easy to use. Most attendees thought Wave’s current shortcomings would be improved or eliminated entirely as they product matures. However, many also noted that collaboration norms within their organization would have to change before Wave is heavily adopted.

Open Source: This was the hot topic of the conference. Everyone was discussing open source content management and collaboration software. An informal poll of the audience at the opening keynote panel suggested that about 40% were using open source content management software. Many of the other attendees wanted to learn more about open source alternatives to the proprietary software they have been using. Clients that I met with asked questions about feature availability, ease of use, cost benefits, and financial viability of providers of open source content management and collaboration software. It was clear that open source is now considered a viable, and perhaps desirable, option by most organizations purchasing enterprise software.

My big take-away from Gilbane Boston 2009 is that we are experiencing an inflection point in the markets for enterprise content management and collaboration software. Monolithic, rigid, proprietary solutions are falling out of favor and interest in more lightweight, flexible, social, open source offerings is rapidly growing. I expect that this trend will continue to manifest itself at Gilbane San Francisco in June 2010, and beyond.

Open Text Expands ECM Solutions for Oracle Applications

Open Text Corporation announced that it has expanded its portfolio of ECM solutions for Oracle Applications with the introduction of new content access and accounts payable solutions. Using these Open Text offerings, enterprises can associate Oracle transactions with business content. Open Text Content Access for Oracle is a new offering that provides a single point of access to Oracle and non-Oracle data and content assets from either the Oracle user interface or from the Open Text ECM Suite to enable companies to organize and manage all content, including legacy content, in virtual folders and provide a way to archive documents. This approach helps eliminate bottlenecks and distributes workload by allowing the people “in the know” to review, approve, and enter the invoice data directly into the Open Text solution without the need for direct accounts payable involvement. Open Text is a partner in the Oracle PartnerNetwork. http://www.opentext.com/

TEMIS Unveils Luxid Content Pipeline

TEMIS announced the launch of Luxid Content Pipeline, a new content collection module integrated within the latest version of its content discovery solution, Luxid 5.1. This platform collects content from a range of information sources and feeds them into Luxid. After annotating content with relevant metadata, Luxid then applies search, discovery and sharing tools to the enriched content and provides users with content analytics and knowledge discovery. Luxid Content Pipeline accesses content by three different methods: Structured Access connects and automates the collection of documents from structured content sources such as Dialog, DataStar, ISI Web of Knowledge, Ovid, STN, Questel, EBSCOhost, Factiva, LexisNexis, MicroPatent, Scopus, ScienceDirect, Minesoft, Esp@cenet, and PubMed. Enterprise Content Management Access connects to corporate knowledge repositories such as EMC Documentum, EMC Documentum CenterStage and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server. To be as compatible as possible with a wide variety of document sources, Luxid Content Pipeline also supports the integration of UIMA (Unstructured Information Management Architecture) collection readers, enabling the connection to these sources using UIMA standard protocol and format conversion. http://www.temis.com/

Kentico Launches New Partner Portal

Kentico Software launched a new version of their Partner Program for Web design agencies, supported by a new Partner Portal. The new portal is used by 900 active Kentico Solution Partners located in 80 countries. The main goal of the new program is to support partners in delivering Web sites with Kentico CMS for ASP.NET. The Partner Program divides partners into 3 levels: Partner, Certified Partner and Gold Certified Partner, based on Partner Points. 39% of their partners come from Europe, 35% from North America, 11% from Asia, 10% from Australia, 3% from Africa and 2% from South America. The top 10 Kentico partners are: 1. Reed Business Information, Australia; 2. IBL-Software BV, Netherlands; 3. orange8 interactive ag, Switzerland; 4. DATA, Inc., USA; 5. Supremo Sp. z o.o, Poland; 6. Get Started Pty Ltd, Australia; 7. Gatesix Inc., USA; 8. Biznet IIS, United Kingdom; 9. Datacom, New Zealand; 10. DPS Technology, Czech Republic. http://www.kentico.com/

Canto Cumulus 8.1 Available Now

Canto announced the availability of Canto Cumulus 8.1, available free of charge to all customers on active software maintenance contracts with Canto or Canto Certified Partners. Cumulus 8.1 is the product line’s first scheduled upgrade since May’s release of Cumulus 8, which introduced a new core architecture. A new version of the Cumulus Client enables users to work with Cumulus Server-based catalogs, or catalogs created and stored locally for personal use. The metadata of Cumulus Server-based catalogs can be edited offline. Once reconnected to the Cumulus Server, local metadata edits can update the Cumulus Server, or vice versa. Included with Cumulus Workgroup, Enterprise and Complete systems, the new Cumulus Web Client helps users connect to Cumulus via Web browsers to find and download assets, edit metadata and upload new assets. The statistics and usage tracking introduced with Cumulus 8 includes new reporting options that include new report types and PDF output options. http://www.canto.com

W3C XML Schema Definition Language (XSD) 1.1 Last Call Draft Published

The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) XML Schema Working Group has published Last Call Working Draft of “W3C XML Schema Definition Language (XSD) 1.1 Part 1: Structures” and “Part 2: Datatypes. The former specifies the XML Schema Definition Language, which offers facilities for describing the structure and constraining the contents of XML documents, including those which exploit the XML Namespace facility. The schema language, which is itself represented in an XML vocabulary and uses namespaces, substantially reconstructs and considerably extends the capabilities found in XML document type definitions (DTDs). The second publication defines facilities for defining datatypes to be used in XML Schemas as well as other XML specifications. Comments are welcome through 31 December. Learn more about the Extensible Markup Language (XML) Activity. http://www.w3.org/TR/2009/WD-xmlschema11-1-20091203/

Inmedius Releases iConvert for Conversion of Complex Technical Documents

Inmedius, Inc. announced the general release of iConvert, a comprehensive environment for the conversion of documents into structured eXtensible Markup Language (XML). The software supports conversion from legacy paper, Microsoft Word or PDF files. iConvert also comes pre-configured for XML conversion of original S1000D, 40051B and ATA documents, and supports any Document Type Definition (DTD) or XML schema. iConvert synchronizes the original document with the converted XML document in a multi-pane, on-screen display. This approach to XML conversion should allow for the continuous fine-tuning of document conversion rules for increased automated transfer. iConvert’s has modified its user environment and workflow design that guides the user through the XML conversion process. At the same time, iConvert provides a visual inspection of the original document that is synchronized with the configured XML output. During this step, the end-user should be able to drag and drop both unconverted pieces of data, as well as content that has been transformed properly. User defined rules files applied to create the original conversion are updated, allowing for a second pass with increased accuracy. http://inmedius.com/

Layering Technologies to Support the Enterprise with Semantic Search

Semantic search is a composite beast like many enterprise software applications. Most packages are made up of multiple technology components and often from multiple vendors. This raises some interesting thoughts as we prepare for Gilbane Boston 2009 to be held this week.

As part of a panel on semantic search, moderated by Hadley Reynolds of IDC, with Jeff Fried of Microsoft and Chris Lamb of the OpenCalais Initiative at Thomson Reuters, I wanted to give a high level view of semantic technologies currently in the marketplace. I contacted about a dozen vendors and selected six to highlight for the variety of semantic search offerings and business models.

One case study involves three vendors, each with a piece of the ultimate, customer-facing, product. My research took me to one company that I had reviewed a couple of years ago, and they sent me to their “customer” and to the customer’s customer. It took me a couple of conversations and emails to sort out the connections; in the end the relationships made perfect sense.

On one hand we have conglomerate software companies offering “solutions” to every imaginable enterprise business need. On the other, we see very unique, specialized point solutions to universal business problems with multiple dimensions and twists. Teaming by vendors, each with a solution to one dimension of a need, create compound product offerings that are adding up to a very large semantic search marketplace.

Consider an example of data gathering by a professional services firm. Let’s assume that my company has tens of thousands of documents collected in the course of research for many clients over many years. Researchers may move on to greater responsibility or other firms, leaving content unorganized except around confidential work for individual clients. We now want to exploit this corpus of content to create new products or services for various vertical markets. To understand what we have, we need to mine the content for themes and concepts.

The product of the mining exercise may have multiple uses: help us create a taxonomy of controlled terms, preparing a navigation scheme for a content portal, providing a feed to some business or text analytics tools that will help us create visual objects reflecting various configurations of content. A text mining vendor may be great at the mining aspect while other firms have better tools for analyzing, organizing and re-shaping the output.

Doing business with two or three vendors, experts in their own niches, may help us reach a conclusion about what to do with our information-rich pile of documents much faster. A multi-faceted approach can be a good way to bring a product or service to market more quickly than if we struggle with generic products from just one company.

When partners each have something of value to contribute, together they offer the benefits of the best of all options. This results in a new problem for businesses looking for the best in each area, namely, vendor relationship management. But it also saves organizations from dealing with huge firms offering many acquired products that have to be managed through a single point of contact, a generalist in everything and a specialist in nothing. Either way, you have to manage the players and how the components are going to work for you.

I really like what I see, semantic technology companies partnering with each other to give good-to-great solutions for all kinds of innovative applications. By the way, at the conference I am doing a quick snapshot on each: Cogito, Connotate (with Cormine and WorldTech), Lexalytics, Linguamatics, Sinequa and TEMIS.

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