Moving Dynamic Content into the Enterprise
It is much easier to justify the cost of implementing a dynamic content solution when deployed for sales or marketing purposes. But suppose you want to bring this technology inside the enterprise to empower your employees by giving them just the information they need exactly when they need it to do their jobs. It sounds attractive, but the expense involved makes it difficult for companies to justify. Because of the amalgamation of technologies required to achieve truly dynamic content—search tools, portals, Web analytics, and business intelligence software (among other things)—the process can be a costly one, and enterprise ROI is more difficult to calculate than retail.
Jupiter's Daniels thinks it's possible to bring dynamic content inside the company, but that it may not happen on a large scale for some time. Currently, he sees more personalization rather than actual dynamic content. "It's possible to do it in an internal fashion, but I haven't seen it," he says. "Most of the customization is really where the employee self-selects their areas of interest, much like My Yahoo!"
Daniels continues, saying, "If it's purely a question of an information exchange that would create efficiency inside an organization, I don't think it's as likely. Where companies are using dynamic content for marketing purposes, it's pretty easy to measure if it's worth the effort. If it's there to provide a better information experience for internal users, I don't think companies would go down that path."
Cap Venture's Maziarka doesn't completely agree, but he does think enterprise dynamic content will only become a reality further down the road. "I definitely think it's going to take hold in the enterprise," he says. "Right now it has been more externally focused, but as organizations build up massive amounts of information internally, that type of support will be critical."
Yet, driven by need, there are already companies out there putting together systems that pull data from various sources and display them dynamically for employees. For instance, the January/February 2004 issue of EContent ["Taking a Vertical Leap with Content Management," pp. 20-24] covered the Haynes and Boone law firm. They wanted a way to provide information to their clients faster, and, using a Plumtree portal framework with LexisNexis legal portletts, they were able to deliver a dynamic solution to help solve a number of client servicing issues including delivering billing information in a more timely manner. When a client called and requested information, the lawyer had to ask an assistant to find the information on the computer system or request it from accounting, which always meant a call back. In the new system, the lawyer pulls up the client page and the system pulls the latest billing information from the back-end accounting database and provides the information instantly. This gives the lawyer instant access to the information they need to answer a client's questions.
A Dynamic Future
Clearly, static Web sites are difficult to maintain and provide little to motivate return visits. When Web sites apply even some dynamic content technology, companies find that it pays for itself in increased sales, visitor retention, and/or decreased calls to customer service. Analysts don't agree on the level of dynamic content that will make it into the enterprise on a wide scale. But when most companies have at least some of the basic pieces to generate information dynamically already installed, it will be a matter of pulling the pieces together (an IT-intensive undertaking) as Haynes and Boone did and providing a clearer path to measure ROI (another difficult proposition).
Yet even incremental changes could provide employees with easier access to the information they need when they need it. If the information systems could understand what the user wants based on past behavior, then supply them with a customized portal homepage, for example, it would increase the likelihood that employees would use portals. It would also eliminate the need to worry about empty portal syndrome, a term used to describe portals that lack fresh content. Armed with a good content management system, some Web analytics, and perhaps a touch of business intelligence software, dynamic content has the potential to provide users with the very information they need to do their jobs on a daily basis. While not a panacea for information retrieval, dynamic content provides a strategy to help make the best use of all of the valuable information living inside the enterprise.
Companies Featured in this Article
Atomz Corporation www.atomz.com
Cap Ventures www.capv.com
Digital Envoy www.digitalenvoy.com
iPhrase Technologies, Inc. www.iphrase.com
Jupiter Research www.jup.com