Create Once, Use Many: Content Management and Digital Publishing

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Go with the Workflow
It appears that the slow adoption of CM in the publishing industry is not due to a lack of available (and potentially valuable) technology, but rather to the inherent change in workflow and perceived disruption of business processes. Changing a business system poses a huge cultural shift for employees and presents a challenge for any company in any industry. Additionally, employees and employers both sometimes forget that systems are designed as support mechanisms for the employees, not as a replacement for them. Gilbane cautions companies to be mindful of three basic challenges and changes at work here: adaptation to a new technology, organizational changes as a result of the new system, and the need for employee training. Make no mistake—an enterprise-wide content management system is difficult to deploy, and IT professionals are needed to maintain it and to provide ongoing user support.

Rather than turn to an outside provider for a software solution, some companies try to solve the content management problem by building in-house software solutions. This is more common among smaller companies, according to Lyall Vanatta, VP of marketing for Infodata Systems Inc.

Steve Kusmer, chairman and CEO of CM and search vendor Atomz Corporation, believes that it is a mistake to take the do-it-yourself approach. According to Kusmer, once this path has been taken, a company's IT resources are constantly strained to create and maintain the system, which is not an easy task, especially for often overtaxed IT departments. Additionally, by creating a proprietary system, no one outside of the company provides product support and upgrades; the company is on its own and essentially becomes a software provider. Often, the solution will also lack interoperability with external products. XyEnterprise's Pasewark and Parsons agree with Kusmer's assessment. According to them, a home-grown content management system is costly and difficult to maintain by the IT department. As a result, they report seeing fewer custom-built solutions. PaperThin's Hanes feels, "With an in-house-built content management system, you have to think about what business you are really in—IT or publishing."

Repurposing on Purpose
When "creating once, using many," there are a number of factors to consider. It is easiest to repurpose print content to print content; in most cases little if any reformatting is necessary. But, if the content lifecycle doesn't end with print, one of the first considerations is what formats are probable for output, as additional forethought regarding content creation will be necessary. Outsell's Strohlein believes the challenge is to reach the point that when content is conceived, it is with the objective of repurposing already in mind. XyEnterprise's Pasewark agrees, saying, "The more control over the content in the beginning, the more successful the repurposing will be." Atomz's Kusmer feels a good upfront design is helpful, even to the point of using a template to create documents. In this way, the document is already partially tagged from the beginning and an automated content management system can complete the meta- tagging process.

Repurposing content for the Web, tablets, PDAs, cell phones, or other wireless devices, will each mandate different formatting given the diverse viewing and usage requirements. Content that looks fine in print, such as a newspaper, does not translate well to a Web site much less a PDA. For the sake of efficiency, if nothing more, using one large database with the capability to output to various formats would be optimal, as opposed to storing content multiple times in various databases or worse, creating it more than once.

Additionally, the ease of searching a document's electronic format is an important feature to plan for ahead of time (and something tagging facilitates). To the digital content savvy user, if a document is not readily searchable, they will move on to other sources that they feel are more user-friendly.

Ideally, when repurposing content, a key concept must be kept at the forefront: the value-added component. If you are taking the time and resources to repurpose content, you must add something of value that was not present in the original content in order to best leverage what digital has to offer. This also offsets the possibility for one version of the content to cannibalize another. For example, a print magazine charges for a subscription. If the identical information in that magazine is available for free on the company's Web site, reformatted for Web viewing but without any changes to content, the company runs the risk of users opting for the free Web content to the detriment of paid print subscriptions.

One approach publishing companies take is to supply only portions of the print version online for free. However, other content might be added as well, such as industry-related, late-breaking news. The value added is the late-breaking news but, while at the Web site, the reader notices the selection of articles from the print version of the magazine, along with the titles of the other articles. If these articles are of interest to the reader but they can't access them without a subscription, a potential subscriber is born. With a content management system underpinning this type of model, a publisher can select an option within the CMS that will allow certain content to be freely available while other content could be protected for subscribers only. It might also allow for speedy deployment of value-added features like breaking news.

Two companies that successfully repurpose content have deep roots in traditional publishing, though they would describe themselves as being in the information industry today: LexisNexis and Factiva, a Dow Jones & Reuters Company. Both systems (fee-based) offer searchable content, usually created by other publishers. Thus, the original publishers repurpose their content by making it accessible in a digital format to one of these information providers. The publisher makes money when the content is used in its initial format and again by licensing certain subsequent usage to an aggregator. Then LexisNexis and/or Factiva offer the content in a different, value-added, electronic format. LexisNexis and Factiva add value to the content for their customers by providing new indexing—allowing for easier information retrieval—and by slicing and dicing collections of content into packages that appeal to specific vertical industries.

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