Category: Enterprise Content Management – ECM (page 3 of 16)

What’s Next with Smart Content?

Over the past few weeks, since publishing Smart Content in the Enterprise, I’ve had several fascinating lunchtime conversations with colleagues concerned about content technologies. Our exchanges wind up with a familiar refrain that goes something like this. “Geoffrey, you have great insights about smart content but what am I supposed to do with all this information?” Ah, it’s the damning with faint praise gambit that often signals an analysis paralysis conundrum for decision-making.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear — I do not have an out-of-the-box prescription for a solution. It’s not simply a matter of focusing on your customer experience, optimizing your content for search, investing in a component content management platform, or adopting DITA – although, depending on the situation, I may recommend some combination of these items as part of a smart content strategy.

For me, smart content remains a work in progress. I expect to develop the prescriptive road map in the months ahead. Here’s a quick take on where I am right now.

  • For publishers, it’s all about transforming the publishing paradigm through content enrichment – defining the appropriate level of granularity and then adding the semantic metadata for automated processing.
  • For application developers, it’s all about getting the information architecture right and ensuring that it’s extensible. There needs to be sensible storage, the right editing and management tools, multiple methods for organizing content, as well as a flexible rendering and production environment.
  • For business leaders and decision makers, there needs to be an upfront investment in the right set of content technologies that will increase profits, reduce operating costs, and mitigate risks. No, I am not talking about rocket science. But you do need a technology strategy and a business plan.

As highlighted by the case studies included in the report, I can point to multiple examples where organizations have done the right things to produce notable results. Dale and I will continue the smart content discussions at the Gilbane Boston conference right after Thanksgiving, both through our preconference workshop, and at a conference session “Smart Content in the Real World: Case Studies and Real Results.”

We are also launching a Smart Content Readiness Service, where we will engage with organizations on a consulting basis to identify:

  • The business drivers where smart content will ensure competitive advantage when distributing business information to customers and stakeholders
  • The technologies, tools, and skills required to componentized content, and target distribution to various audiences using multiple devices
  • The operational roles and governance needed to support smart content development and deployment across an organization
  • The implementation planning strategies and challenges to upgrade content and creation and delivery environments

Please contact me if you are interested in learning more.

In short, to answer my lunchtime colleagues, I cannot (yet) prescribe a fully baked solution. It’s too early for the recipes and the cookbook. But I do believe that the business opportunities and benefits are readily at hand. At this point, I would invite you to join the discussion by letting me know what you expect, what approaches you’ve tried, where you’ve wound up, what you think needs to come next – and how we might help you.

Introducing the Web Engagement Capability Model

To support our research and analysis, Scott Liewehr and I have been working on a capability model to define how we look at Web Engagement that you’ll see coming through our work over the coming months and I thought I’d give a bit of a preview here.

As I have discussed previously (in this post) there is more to this Web Engagement thing than Web Content Management, although the lines are blurry as there are a myriad of vendors that can claim capabilities here. Some of this great stuff is coming from WCM vendors, analytics vendors and some very nice niche players that we think our clients should look at as they build out their engagement strategy.

Note – I am using the term ‘engagement’, not ‘experience’ – in my opinion the experience is a vital element of engagement, but it’s not the broader topic – maybe more on that in a later post.  

Clearly, if you are a digital marketer, this can look confusing and I know of at least one organization that has deployed three different web analytics packages as each fulfills a different engagement function. Our intention is that as we delve into this engagement tier, we can start to unravel who exactly does what.

We are also seeing campaign management and digital marketing requirements entering the WCM selection process, often disconnected from a wider strategy. I am not suggesting that having digital marketing requirement in a WCM RFP is necessarily bad – we just need to go into this with our eyes open and get some clarity over how we structure those requirements.

Our concern is that we learn the lessons of ECM and big IT and stay alert to the risk of implementing a system that ticks a lot of RFP boxes, does lots of things OK, but nothing really very well or that we take our eye off the ball of the innovation in this space. In either case the engagement capabilities of an organization could become constrained.

We will be coming out with some pretty graphics, but here I want to discuss the five main pillars that Scott and I are putting together by which an organization can judge their web engagement strategy and capabilities:

  1. Content Management – Yes, content management, not web content management. This is the capability of an organization to manage and publish different kinds of assets to multiple visitor touch points. Not necessarily one system, but a joined up integrated process combining the disciplines of managing localization, governance, multiple sites, digital assets, publish to email etc.
  2. Social Media – Not just about an organizations presence on Youtube, Twitter or Facebook, but how that is leveraged and measured to form an integrated part of the audience experience.
  3. Visitor Insight – Are you just counting visitors? Having lots of visitors may just mean they like pictures of funny kittens; having well understood engaged visitors is a business asset. Do you know who are your most valuable and engaged visitors?
  4. Integrated Campaign Management – In most organizations our websites are part of a greater digital communications machine and our audiences view us a single entity across multiple touch points. This capability is about how each of our digital marketing moving parts work together.
  5. Organizational Preparedness – The discipline of customer engagement spans various parts of an organization that have often been traditionally in separate silos. From customer services, to the database marketing guys to the cool guys in the black rimmed glasses in the agency – your capability to engage relies on how joined up are these folks in delivering this multi-channel brand experience.

Remember this is a capability assessment, not a vendor maturity model or a magic err.. anything. It’s a way for people to think about implementing Web Engagement and the areas that may need focus.

We’ll no doubt tinker with the names as we start to publish more on this, but hopefully this can give you a taste of our thinking here.

Website Governance in the Enterprise- A Chat With Ian Truscott

In case you missed it this week, I chatted with Ian this week regarding his latest beacon, Looking Outside the CMS Box for Enterprise Website Governance. It got broken down into 4 videos and promoted across our various video channels (Facebook, Youtube, and our main channel Gilbane.blip.tv). Also make sure you aren’t missing out on the popular posts over on the XML blog

I’ve embedded the videos below if you missed them:

Rivet Software Launches Crossfire 3.0 for Financial Communications

Rivet Software, the premier provider of standards-based business reporting and analytics, announced the release of Crossfire 3.0, an enhanced software platform that simplifies the process of SEC financial filings by managing the complicated preparation and review processes. Crossfire uses eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) technology to control document progression and centralize reviewers’ comments. Crossfire 3.0 is a standards-based reporting platform that specializes in internal and external financial reporting and analytics. Based on an XBRL framework, Crossfire 3.0 simplifies the user experience by eliminating the file management issue. Rivet’s integrated solution allows its customers to control the financial reporting cycle and comply with all SEC filing needs. Crossfire 3.0 includes an integrated Reviewer’s Guide that allows preparers and reviewers to closely collaborate across multiple iterations as the filing progresses from inception to completion. With this guide, users no longer need to interact with standalone documents to review XBRL tag selections and comment information. This “single document” system streamlines the process for reviewing and approving filings in a way not previously available. Crossfire 3.0 now preserves existing tags and comments when rolling forward from one filing to the next. When new data matches an XBRL tag from the previous quarter, Crossfire recognizes the match and automatically applies the tag throughout the document. The latest release of Crossfire allows users to change XBRL-tagged data in one location and instantly apply that change to exact-matched data throughout the entire document. Crossfire 3.0 includes the ability to split the XBRL templates so a filing can be worked on by different people in parallel. Once the separate pieces are complete, a user can simply merge them back into the master file. Crossfire 3.0 is supported by Rivet’s global professional services team 24 hours a day, seven days a week. www.rivetsoftware.com

eZ unveils eZ Publish Enterprise 4.4

eZ has introduced eZ Publish Enterprise, which provides a package of software and services in a integrated, pay as you go product. As an eZ Publish Enterprise product, you will get all the power of the eZ Publish community project, along with professionally supported software that includes additional Enterprise features and services. This release of eZ Publish Enterprise integrates all the Enterprise services into a Service Portal in the administration interface of eZ Publish, making administrators’ lives simpler. With version 4.4, eZ Publish provides users a range of features that will help them succeed in their day-to-day use of eZ Publish, whether they are end users, occasional contributors, editors or administrators. The brand new built-in Online Image Editor will provide a simple way for editors to perform the most common tasks of photo management in eZ Publish. New with this version is the native support for HTML5 video without need for advanced development. Publishing on mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad has been made easier. User Generated Content gets a helping hand with the addition of native support for reCaptcha, the Google-based free captcha service on the web, which helps prevent your website from being infested by spam. A new User Session handler gives more possibilities for the configuration of web servers. File system-based user session management multiplies the performance of eZ Publish servers when talking to a large audience of anonymous users. A new Archiving toolkit implements large volume archiving scenarios where old content can be moved to archive repositories, and can still be searched and rendered with the eZ Publish presentation engine. eZ Publish 4.4 improves section management, multi-site setup, and extension loading, but the biggest news is the Developer Preview of the forthcoming eZ Publish API. The eZ Publish API shows the way for developing remote applications for new devices. Connecting to eZ Publish and using its content and functionalities is easier than ever. The light-weight remote API makes eZ Publish the platform of choice for Mobile Content Management, whether you focus on the iPhone and iPad platforms, Android or Blackberry. The new Newsletter system, developed in collaboration with the CJW partner, an eZ partner and active member of the eZ community, is a prime example of community innovation. http://ez.no/

How Smart Content Aids Distributed Collaboration

Authoring in a structured text environment has traditionally been done with dedicated structured editors. These tools enable validation and user assisted markup features that help the user create complete and valid content. But these structured editors are somewhat complicated and unusual and require training in their use for the user to become proficient. The learning curve is not very steep but it does exist.

Many organizations have come to see documentation departments as a process bottleneck and try to engage others throughout the enterprise in the content creation and review processes. Engineers and developers can contribute to documentation and have a unique technical perspective. Installation and support personnel are on the front lines and have unique insight into how the product and related documentation is used. Telephone operators not only need the information at their fingertips, but can also augment it with comments and ides that occur while supporting users. Third-party partners and reviewers may also have a unique perspective and role to play in a distributed, collaborative content creation, management, review, and delivery ecosystem.

Our recently completed research on XML Smart Content in the Enterprise indicates that as we strive to move content creation and management out of the documentation department silo, we will also need to consider how the data is encoded and the usefulness of the data model in meeting our expanded business requirements. Smart content is multipurpose content designed with several uses in mind. Smart content is modular to support being assembled in a variety of forms. And smart content is structured content that has been enriched with semantic information to better identify it’s topic and role to aide processing and searching. For these reasons, smart content also improves distributed collaboration. Let me elaborate.

One of the challenges for distributed collaboration is the infrequency of user participation and therefore, unfamiliarity with structured editing tools. It makes sense to simplify the editing process and tools for infrequent users. They can’t always take a refresher course in the editor and it’s features. They may be working remotely, even on a customer site installing equipment or software. These infrequent users need structured editing tools that are designed for them. These collaboration tools need to be intuitive and easy to figure out, easily accessible from just about anywhere, and should be affordable and have flexible licensing to allow a larger number of users to participate in the management of the content. This usually means one of two things: either the editor will be a plug in to another popular word processing system (e.g., MS Word), or it will be accessed though a thin-client browser, like a Wiki editor. In some environments, it is possible that both may be need in addition to traditional structured editing tools. Smart content modularity and enrichment allows flexibility in editing tools and process design. This allows the  use of a variety of editing tools and flexibility in process design, and therefore expanding who can collaborate from throughout the enterprise.

Also, infrequent contributors may not be able to master navigating and operating within a  complex repository and workflow environment either for the same familiarity reasons. Serving up information to a remote collaborator might be enhanced with keywords and other metadata that is designed to optimize searching and access to the content. Even a little metadata can provide a lot of simplicity to an infrequent user. Product codes, version information, and a couple of dates would allow a user to hone in on the likely content topics and select content to edit from a well targeted list of search results. Relationships between content modules that are indicated in metadata can alert a user that when one object is updated, other related objects may need to be reviewed for potential update as well.

It is becoming increasingly clear that there is no one model for XML or smart content creation and editing. Just as a carpenter may have several saws, each designed for a particular type of cut, a robust smart content structured content environment may have more than one editor in use. It behooves us to design our systems and tools to meet the desired business processes and user functionality, rather than limit our processes to the features of one tool.

Revenge of the ECM nerds

cats

For those of you who aren’t familiar with who I am, I am the Marketing Specialist for Gilbane, more specifically the man behind the various social media curtains. One of my favorite parts of social media is memes, defined as, “a unit of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena.” The most famous example of a meme, almost synonymous with the internet now, is Lolcatz. One of the great pleasures I have managing the Gilbane accounts is the unique community. Defying stereotypes of computer geeks, the online CMS community has proven to be composed of a plethora of creative, witty, clever, and simply funny individuals spanning timezones, continents, and native languages. Earlier this year, we were treated with CMSHaikus, which I was happy to preserve in an ebook (the .pdf originally had Youtube videos embedded in it, but these have since been blocked due to a security patch). This time around, @Adriaanbloem took another meme and spun it with his own angle.

Adriaan bloem

The tweets that followed were a mixture of angst, disappointment, frustration, front-line experience, but most importantly humor! The sarcasm runs rampant here, but the jabs are taken at brands, vendors, scripting languages, developers, each other, and consulting agencies (although the “Godfather” and the agency in his name still seems to command respect as of this writing ).

The engine seems to have plenty of meme steam left in it, but when it’s gone you can read the #CMSRetraction Archive, or better yet follow the participants and become part of the quirky CMS Twitterrati. If I missed you on the list, drop me a line (@gilbane or @tallbonez) and I will be sure to add you!

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.

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