Curated for content, computing, and digital experience professionals

Month: September 2010 (Page 2 of 3)

Repurposing Content vs. Creating Multipurpose Content

In our recently completed research on Smart Content in the Enterprise we explored how organizations are taking advantage of benefits from XML throughout the enterprise and not just in the documentation department. Our findings include several key issues that leading edge XML implementers are addressing including new delivery requirements, new ways of creating and managing content, and the use of standards to create rich, interoperable content. In our case studies we examined how some are breaking out of the documentation department silo and enabling others inside or even outside the organization to contribute and collaborate on content. Some are even using crowd sourcing and social publishing to allow consumers of the information to annotate it and participate in its development. We found that expectations for content creation and management have changed significantly and we need to think about how we organize and manage our data to support these new requirements. One key finding of the research is that organizations are taking a different approach to repurposing their content, a more proactive approach that might better be called “multipurposing”.

In the XML world we have been talking about repurposing content for decades. Repurposing content usually means content that is created for one type of use is reorganized, converted, transformed, etc. for another use. Many organizations have successfully deployed XML systems that optimize delivery in multiple formats using what is often referred to as a Single Source Publishing (SSP) process where a single source of content is created and transformed into all desired deliverable formats (e.g., HTML, PDF, etc.).

Traditional delivery of content in the form of documents, whether in HTML or PDF, can be very limiting to users who want to search across multiple documents, reorganize document content into a form that is useful to the particular task at hand, or share portions with collaborators. As the functionality on Web sites and mobile devices becomes more sophisticated, new ways of delivering content are needed to take advantage of these capabilities. Dynamic assembly of content into custom views can be optimized with delivery of content components instead of whole documents. Powerful search features can be enhanced with metadata and other forms of content enrichment.

SSP and repurposing content traditionally focuses on the content creation, authoring, management and workflow steps up to delivery. In order for organizations to keep up with the potential of delivery systems and the emerging expectations of users, it behooves us to take a broader view of requirements for content systems and the underlying data model. Developers need to expand the scope of activities they evaluate and plan for when designing the system and the underlying data model. They should consider what metadata might improve faceted searching or dynamic assembly. In doing so they can identify the multiple purposes the content is destined for throughout the ecosystem in which it is created, managed and consumed.

Multipurpose content is designed with additional functionality in mind including faceted search, distributed collaboration and annotation, localization and translation, indexing, and even provisioning and other supply chain transactions. In short, multipurposing content focuses on the bigger picture to meet a broader set of business drivers throughout the enterprise, and even beyond to the needs of the information consumers.

It is easy to get carried away with data modeling and an overly complex data model usually requires more development, maintenance, and training than would otherwise be required to meet a set of business needs. You definitely want to avoid using specific processing terminology when naming elements (e.g., specific formatting, element names that describe processing actions instead of defining the role of the content). You can still create data models that address the broader range of activities without using specific commands or actions. Knowing a chunk of text is a “definition” instead of an “error message” is useful and far more easy to reinterpret for other uses than an “h2” element name or an attribute for display=’yes’. Breaking chapters into individual topics eases custom, dynamic assembly. Adding keywords and other enrichment can improve search results and the active management of the content. In short, multipurpose data models can and should be comprehensive and remain device agnostic to meet enterprise requirements for the content.

The difference between repurposing content and multipurpose content is a matter of degree and scope, and requires generic, agnostic components and element names. But most of all, multipurposing requires understanding the requirements of all processes in the desired enterprise environment up front when designing a system to make sure the model is sufficient to deliver designed outcomes and capabilities. Otherwise repurposing content will continue to be done as an afterthought process and possibly limit the usefulness of the content for some applications.

Early Access to Gilbane’s XML Report

If you’ve been reading our recent posts on Gilbane’s new research on XML adoption, you might be wondering how to get the report in advance of its availability from Gilbane later this month.

Smart Content in the Enterprise: How Next Generation XML Applications Deliver New Value to Multiple Stakeholders is currently offered by several of the study sponsors: IBM, JustSystems, MarkLogic, MindTouch, Ovitas, Quark, and SDL.

We’ll also be discussing our research in real time during a webinar hosted by SDL on November 4. Look for details within the next few weeks.

Leveraging Two Decades of Computational Linguistics for Semantic Search

Over the past three months I have had the pleasure of speaking with Kathleen Dahlgren, founder of Cognition, several times. I first learned about Cognition at the Boston Infonortics Search Engines meeting in 2009. That introduction led me to a closer look several months later when researching auto-categorization software. I was impressed with the comprehensive English language semantic net they had doggedly built over a 20+ year period.

A semantic net is a map of language that explicitly defines the many relationships among words and phrases. It might be very simple to illustrate something as fundamental as a small geographical locale and all named entities within it, or as complex as the entire base language of English with every concept mapped to illustrate all the ways that any one term is related to other terms, as illustrated in this tiny subset. Dr. Dahlgren and her team are among the few companies that have created a comprehensive semantic net for English.

In 2003, Dr. Dahlgren established Cognition as a software company to commercialize its semantic net, designing software to apply it to semantic search applications. As the Gilbane Group launched its new research on Semantic Software Technologies, Cognition signed on as a study co-sponsor and we engaged in several discussions with them that rounded out their history in this new marketplace. It was illustrative of pioneering in any new software domain.

Early adopters are key contributors to any software development. It is notable that Cognition has attracted experts in fields as diverse as medical research, legal e-discovery and Web semantic search. This gives the company valuable feedback for their commercial development. In any highly technical discipline, it is challenging and exciting to finding subject experts knowledgeable enough to contribute to product evolution and Cognition is learning from client experts where the best opportunities for growth lie.

Recent interviews with Cognition executives, and those of other sponsors, gave me the opportunity to get their reactions to my conclusions about this industry. These were the more interesting thoughts that came from Cognition after they had reviewed the Gilbane report:

  • Feedback from current clients and attendees at 2010 conferences, where Dr. Dahlgren was a featured speaker, confirms escalating awareness of the field; she feels that “This is the year of Semantics.” It is catching the imagination of IT folks who understand the diverse and important business problems to which semantic technology can be applied.
  • In addition to a significant upswing in semantics applied in life sciences, publishing, law and energy, Cognition sees specific opportunities for growth in risk assessment and risk management. Using semantics to detect signals, content salience, and measures of relevance are critical where the quantity of data and textual content is too voluminous for human filtering. There is not much evidence that financial services, banking and insurance are embracing semantic technologies yet, but it could dramatically improve their business intelligence and Cognition is well positioned to give support to leverage their already tested tools.
  • Enterprise semantic search will begin to overcome the poor reputation that traditional “string search” has suffered. There is growing recognition among IT professionals that in the enterprise 80% of the queries are unique; these cannot be interpreted based on popularity or social commentary. Determining relevance or accuracy of retrieved results depends on the types of software algorithms that apply computational linguistics, not pattern matching or statistical models.

In Dr. Dahlgren’s view, there is no question that a team approach to deploying semantic enterprise search is required. This means that IT professionals will work side-by-side with subject matter experts, search experts and vocabulary specialists to gain the best advantage from semantic search engines.

The unique language aspects of an enterprise content domain are as important as the software a company employs. The Cognition baseline semantic net, out-of-the-box, will always give reliable and better results than traditional string search engines. However, it gives top performance when enhanced with enterprise language, embedding all the ways that subject experts talk about their topical domain, jargon, acronyms, code phrases, etc.

With elements of its software already embedded in some notable commercial applications like Bing, Cognition is positioned for delivering excellent semantic search for an enterprise. They are taking on opportunities in areas like risk management that have been slow to adopt semantic tools. They will deliver software to these customers together with services and expertise to coach their clients through the implementation, deployment and maintenance essential to successful use. The enthusiasm expressed to me by Kathleen Dahlgren about semantics confirms what I also heard from Cognition clients. They are confident that the technology coupled with thoughtful guidance from their support services will be the true value-added for any enterprise semantic search application using Cognition.

The free download of the Gilbane study and deep-dive on Cognition was announced on their Web site at this page.

New Paper – Looking at Website Governance

I am delighted that I’ve just completed my first solo paper here as an analyst: Looking Outside the CMS Box for Enterprise Website Governance. I say solo, but I ought to start by saying I’m grateful for having had a great deal of support from Mary Laplante as my reform from vendor to analyst continues.

This paper has allowed me to pick at a subject that I’ve long had in the back of my mind, both in terms of CMS product strategy and of what we, as content management professionals, need to be cognizant of as we get swept up in engaging web experiences – that of corporate content governance.

When I write and talk about web engagement or the web experience, I often refer to the first impression – that your website meets all of your audience, prospects, customers or citizens. They don’t all see your shiny headquarters building, meet the friendly receptionist or see that you have todays copy of The Times on the coffee table – but they do see your website.

Mistakes such as a misspelling, an outdated page or a brand inconsistency all reflect badly on your attention to detail. This tarnishes the professionalism of your services, the reliability of your products, and attention you will pay to meeting consumer needs.

Of course, when those lapses are related to compliance issues (such as regulatory requirements and accessibility standards), they can be even more damaging, often resulting in financial penalties and a serious impact on your reputation.

I see this governance as the foundation for any content driven business application, but in this paper we focus on website governance and aim to answer the following questions:

  • What are the critical content governance risks and issues facing the organization? 
  • Is your CMS implementation meeting these challenges? 
  • What solutions are available to address governance needs that are not addressed by CMS? 

The paper is  now available for download from our Beacon library page and from Magus, who sponsored it.

Magus are also presenting business seminars on website governance and compliance  on October 12 in Washington, DC, and October 14 in New York. My colleague Scott Liewehr will be presenting at those events, drawing on the analysis in the Beacon as part of that seminar program. You can learn more about those events and register on the Magus website.

 

Focusing on Smart Content

This summer, Dale Waldt, Mary Laplante, and I have been busy wrapping up our multi-vendor report about “Smart Content in the Enterprise: How Next Generation XML Applications Deliver New Value to Multiple Stakeholders.” We’ll be publishing the report in it’s entirely in a few weeks. We are grateful to our sponsors – IBM, JustSystems, MarkLogic, Mindtouch, Ovitas, Quark, and SDL – for supporting our research and enabling us to make headway on this important trend for the future of content technologies on the web. Here’s the link to access some of the case studies that are part of this report.

XML as a tagging standard for content is almost as old as the web itself. XML applications have long proven their significant value—reducing costs, growing revenue, expediting business processes, mitigating risk, improving customer service, and increasing customer satisfaction. But for all the benefits, managers of successful XML implementations have struggled with attempts to bring XML content and applications out of their documentation departments and into their larger enterprises.

So much XML content value remains untapped. What does it take to break out of the XML application silo? What is the magic formula for an enterprise business case that captures and keeps the attention of senior management? These are the issues we set out to address.

We believe that the solution needs to be based on “smart content.” When we tag content with extensive semantic and/or formatting information, we make it “smart” enough for applications and systems to use the content in interesting, innovative, and often unexpected ways. Organizing, searching, processing, discovery, and presentation are greatly improved, which in turn increases the underlying value of the information that customers access and use.

We started this discussion late last year.  We now have the solution-oriented case studies and the additional analysis to reinforce our perspective about the drivers for the digital revolution at hand. We look forward to the continuing conversations with all of you who are seeking to transform the content-related capabilities of your business operations by championing XML applications.

Polymita Releases FreeFlow BPM Solution

Polymita, a provider of BPM software and solutions, announced the launch of Polymita FreeFlow, a new generation in process management (BPM). Polymita FreeFlow covers business scenarios that need unstructured and collaborative processes and is integrated in the version 6 Polymita. Polymita FreeFlow enables the implementation of unstructured processes at any time or as a part of a structured process. It provides collaboration features, assigning unplanned tasks to users, adding new users or adding new documents or data that are needed to manage the incident, emergency or unplanned change. The users access the same process context that the original process (data, documents, indicators, business rules) and supports collaboration, approval, delegation, alerts and cancellation tasks. Polymita FreeFlow also provides the ability to create workflows, both within a process and independently, with dynamic assignment of roles, on-demand creation tasks from structured processes and their control and supervision, as well as other features. Polymita FreeFlow can be used on-premise, as SaaS or Cloud. www.polymita.com

Summer Webinar Recap: In Case You Missed Them

Here’s a quick rundown of summer educational events in which we participated with our partners. View these archived webcasts that you might have missed,  or refresh your subject matter expertise as your organization heads into fall business activities.

Publishing Production Outsourcing: Wolters Kluwer’s Formula for Success 

Integration Calculus: CMS + TMS = Turbo-Accelerated Creation of Multilingual Product Documentation

Making Quality Part of Your Content DNA

Content, Context, and Conversation: The Three Kings of Consumer Engagement

Fall webcasts include insights from Gilbane’s 2010 research on XML and multilingual marketing content, customer success stories, eBook challenges, web engagement, and web content governance. Look for announcements on our home page and blogs, in our weekly NewsShark, and through our social media channels.

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