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Beyond the Fat Wire

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Conference wrap-up

This was a good conference. Gilbane seems to have CM events twice a year: April in San Francisco and November in Boston.

Like the IA Summit, this conference was a place where it was cool to be a librarian. Also like the IA Summit, you get the corporate and non-profit folks, though the IA Summit has more folks from academia. And, like the IA Summit, most of the corporate folks are capable of talking in terms other than Business/IT buzz words.

I think it's important for us in the higher ed sector to get out among colleagues from the corporate and nonprofit sectors. While we aren't selling anything in the way that a corporation is, I would argue that we have many of the same issues -- and, maybe, we *could* say that we *do* have something to sell. The question is what are our products, and I would say we have 2: services (e.g., reference/instruction/access services) and information access. If we want our customers (students, faculty, staff) to *want* to buy (read: "use") our products, we have to be able to communicate to our customers effectively -- using language that will attract and hold them, using mediums of communication that they expect and want to receive, and offering that communication in places and times that will maximize customers' attention and our message's impact.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find out what the Gilbane Content Technology Works program is. I was skeptical for some time, figuring, there must be some consultancy selling their services buried underneath there somewhere. But, I don't think that's it.

It seems to be a program, created by the Gilbane Report folks and underwritten by CM vendors, that is really meant to further CM projects. What they do is write case studies and hold webinars, all at no charge, where the purpose is to highlight best practices and successes in CM implementations. It helps the CM workers, furthers the profession, helps make new projects reach success, and, when those things happen, vendors also benefit.

There are conference sessions in the morning (the post-conference workshops are in the afternoon) in the Digital Asset Management and Knowledge Management tracks, but I'm not sure I'll be able to get to any of them before I go to the airport.

Catching up on the day

Back to the morning's first session... the keynote panel on Content Technology Works, which are case studies representing best practices in content management

Bill Benz, J&W Seligman - "Leveraging Content Using Multiple Communications Channels" - get presentation here (PDF)
  • found that customers (for them, customers are financial analysts) preferred email notifications
  • for them, their web site was a tool to enhance engagement with customers
  • define all your customers, including internal -- identify the preferred communication channel for each -- "How do you want us to talk to you?"
  • spam is any email that annoys the recipient
  • maintain fresh, appropriate content in all communication channels
  • they did deep analysis of site search logs as a source of info on what their site visitors wanted to find. Then, they devised home page promos targeting the top searches.
  • navigation is key -- it has to be easy
  • when negotiating with a vendor, remember -- the best customer support you will get from that vendor will be the day before you sign the contract. if customer support isn't good on that day, drop the vendor
  • mid-size and small companies have all of the same content management needs as a huge, rich company ... they just need a smaller quantity of each

Mario Queiroz, Hewlett-Packard

"adaptive enterprise" is a term HP uses re: how they work w/ customers to build infrastructure

(he sort of rambled on, not saying much of consequence, but it did inspire me to think this:

The problem with the web site, and the library for that matter, is that we are not clear on what we are "selling".

To me: "What do we sell?" ... we sell 1) our services and 2) information access. Until we think of those things as products that we sell, we will not be able to communicate effectively with our library users. We have to design content and presentation to maximize the salability of our products.

Other comments from this speaker:
  • Begin creating the content for your product before the product is ready to be distributed
  • Benchmarking vs. characterizing your key competitor
  • in your project, deliver short term gains while ramping up to a critical mass that will push your project into success

David Liroff - WGBH Educational Foundation
  • By 2008, all WGBH programming will be distributed via digital files, e.g., as email attachments, etc
  • preparing for fully on-demand, digital media/entertainment
  • "Content without rights is NOT an asset"
  • for info on WBGH digitization projects see daminfo.wgbh.org
  • Digital preservation is a big thing with them .... "Have you ever tried to get data off a 10 year old floppy disk? PAPYRUS is a better storage medium than any digital format"
  • most important is the consumer's expectations for media consumption
  • "TiVO has changed my life ... I can't watch live TV anymore"
  • Video On Demand - reduces the cable TV subscriber churn rate -- gets those people who unsubscribe because of 300 channels and still nothing to watch
Key issues/trends/drivers:
  • Moore's Law
  • plummeting data storage costs
  • compression
  • digital distribution through multiple channels including IP
  • Broadband as an on demand digital distribution method
  • database management techniques
  • search tool development
  • refinement of relationship/recommender engines -- constituency development (that is, "other people who liked this also liked .... " and the development of these communities/constituencies of interests)
Required reading: "The Long Tail" in Wired -- "Forget squeezing millions from a few megahits at the top of the charts. The future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream."

He quoted someone from Intel that said that we are now in a "strategic inflection point" -- a place where fewer and fewer of the old rules apply, but where the new rules have not been written yet

Following these three talks, the moderator added that she believes that a year from now, the big thing in content management will no longer be communication mediums, but rather taxonomy, categorization, and search. (hmm... tell that to the IA's, who've been doing that for content for years now)

The last of Tuesday afternoon

The final session of the day for me is a CTW case study, "Solutions for Custom Communications", Kosta Nicolopoulos, Rolf C. Hagen (USA) Corp. - get presentation here (PDF)

using digital asset management in a marketing/communication venture

as they learned more about digital asset management, they realized they needed to rethink their project, goals, objectives, etc.


Wed PM

"Directions in Content Management" (another "speak for 5 minutes and then open for discussion" panel session)

Eric Silberstein, Idiom (?) -- has to do w/ translation
Rich Buckheim, Oracle
Bill , Interwoven

Eric says the directions are:

CM as a term is still being used to encompass many things, even though we know now that these are separate (and maybe better, separable) things, functions, etc

Directions:
  • all content will be XML
  • globalization, localization
  • technology surrounding XML

Rich says the directions are:
  • CM people who are central but peripheral (e.g., CM systems built using an Oracle DB, putting Oracle in the CM space, even though Oracle is not a CM company)
  • Also, file server vendors, where the file servers are part of the CM system even though they aren't CM vendors
  • Data/Info protection, security ... something between ECM and file server/desktop
  • Growth is in the upgrade, replacement, enhancement in products that are today "just file servers" into something that could be considered an ECM


Bill says the directions are:
  • an environment where all of the heterogeneous vendors can live together
  • it's all about integration -- all of the content repositories, etc
  • how do all the vendors, products, etc., co-exist? management of: email, document content, web content, etc.

SOA - Service Oriented Architecture
Transportability - content reuse, content sharing
Application layer
Rapid application development
Flexibility to bring applications together so they can co-exist

Is it true that ECM is a myth?

(these guys represent vendors ... how can they say it is or isn't a myth?)

(actually, i'm getting the sense that these guys said pretty much everything yesterday and in today's opening session. these guys are starting to repeat themselves)

audience question: so... you guys are offering me all these products, I can't afford any of them, and I don't have the resources to implement them even if I had the budget ... so when will there be something for me?

and the answer ... well, i guess these guys can repeat back the problem, but, how can they have an answer, when they are selling those high priced products

I should have gone to the CTW session at this hour ...

This Oracle guy ... first he admits that the small-market guy in the audience is not in Oracle's customer target, but then he starts talking "future Oracle products" that will help the guy out ... At least the Interwoven guy says they are supposed to be there to speak about directions, not do sales talk, but ...

=======

I moved to the CTW track ... it's the middle of the talk by a guy from WBGH (another guy, not the one from the morning panel) talking about their DAM.

Dave McCarn, WGBH -- Solutions for Leveraging Rich Media -- get presentation here (PDF)

"Digital Asset Management Unified Field Theory"

Experiences deploying DAM:
  • remember the usual key activities
    • develop your specifications
    • clarify what your assets are, what metadata is needed, etc
    • Do your workflow analysis
http://daminfo.wgbh.org/

Wed AM

The keynote talks this AM were great.

The panel topic was Content Technology Works

To start, some issues from yesterday:
  • ECM - myth or vision
  • Integration issues - database, content management, authoring
  • Software as a service (see a CTW case study)
  • Importance of getting unstructured information under control
  • Close alignment of IT and business goals
  • Content is not just authoring and managing, it's also delivery and use
  • Content crosses business domains/goals
  • Dealing with legacy systems
  • Multichannel communication -- multi-format, single source publishing, XML

Bill Benz, J&W Seligman "Leveraging content using multiple communicaiton channels"
Mario Queiroz, Hewlett-Packard
David Liroff, WBGH

(I'll post the details later)

=====================

(after the morning break)

"Implementing a CMS - Next Steps and Key Issues, Part 2"

Brendan Quinn, BBCi -- "CMS Impacts on Systems, Networks, Security, and IT Support"

Brendan is talking about technology requirements for a CMS implementation: storage capacity, acceptable amounts of downtime, acceptable levels of non-responsiveness (POV of the content author on a browser based CMS on an app server), getting IT and CMS people to talk to each other, etc etc etc.

Short version: design for your own needs, not what a vendor says or what you read in a book

(sorry, but ... duh ...)

"baked" content -- precreated content
"fried" content -- dynamic content
"flied" content -- fried content where the details of the delivery are determined on the fly


Michael Hahn, Vasont Systems -- "Are DTDs Dead?" -- get presentation here (PDF)

well, the topic is the use of schemas rather than DTDs .. better to try to get his slides

RELAX NG (pronounce: relaxing) ... considered simpler and more elegant than w3c schema
schematron - Rick Jeliffe - projected as part 4 of ISO 19757