Here is a useful Gilbane research report on Smart Content in the Enterprise by Geoff Bock. It covers XML applications. As Geoff notes, these application have long proven value with reusable componentized content. However, it has been hard for XML champions to get greater acceptance within the enterprise. Geoff explores this paradox in his report. He and his colleagues looked at both failures and successes to try and abstract common points that could be used by firms wanting to make greater use of the potential within XML.
To answer these questions, they talked with business and technology leaders connected with successful XML deployments and supplemented this with their own experience in XML implementations. The key findings include a shift toward an outward facing customer impact view of content practices rather than a focus on internal operational efficiencies.
Geoff writes that this change in focus for finding value is causing a reversal in how applications are designed. Rather than starting with the content creation process for greater efficiency, successful applications of XML begin with the content delivery process to increase value to the user. Then they work backward to the creation effort. This reversal has sparked a demand for new ways to enrich content with XML tags for better embedded metadata. The focus on the end state of content use has also broadened the range of contributors to its creation. It has also encouraged the additional of more social components.
Geoff uses the term “smart content” to describe this new use of XML. It is granular at the right level, useful across applications, and supports collaboration. All of these are traits that can be useful in the more social enterprises and Web sites that are emerging and, according to the research, benefits are there. It makes sense to me and it seems that smarter use of XML is one way to ride the current wave of interest in social applications. The report is addressed to both implementers and vendors in this space and should provide great value to both.
The report concludes that it is important to focus on four content factors: granularity, enrichment, interoperability, and collaboration. The built in granularity needs to be complex enough to support effective repurposing and simple enough to not make this repurposing too difficult. Enrichment guidelines follow this just enough advice. Interoperability is supported by rich tags. The report offers the example of combining directory listing with location information to offer localized content. Collaboration can be enhanced by getting the right content to the right users through smarter content.
The report offers a rich set of findings, case examples, practical advice, and addresses the change management issues required to make effective use of smart content. If you plan to make effective use of XML or you are building applications to address this market, this report should provide valuable insights. It is publicly available for download at the Gilbane web site.