The digital content industry covers a lot of territory-one with borders that shift and grow almost daily. I couldn't possibly patrol this landscape alone, and I have always relied on a network of industry experts whose interests range as widely as their geographical locations. Compiling the EContent 100 list provides us with an opportunity to gather together-if only virtually in our voting wiki-and mix it up a bit.
Mind you, some team members exchange news tips, expertise, and even beverages over the course of the year by commenting on each other's blogs, trading emails, and meeting up at industry events. However, most members of the team only "get together" once a year, and while their interests converge on the pages of this magazine, their opinions are powerful and distinct. They are a civilized bunch, but there's nothing like vetting the merits of hundreds of companies to polarize them. Yet as I said when I was moderating a scuffle between two judges with conflicting viewpoints: I like friction. It causes heat. Even sparks.
The time has never been better for sparks to fly in the making of this list because, as our content turns to recovery, it is time to reignite the content economy. On these pages, we name the companies (and the key products for which we are recognizing their accomplishments) that we believe demonstrate continued leadership in the content industry, as well as those whose innovation foreshadows all that digital content has to offer.
This will be a year in which organizations must put the tools to work-engaging new customers, satisfying (and keeping) existing ones, maximizing knowledge assets, and delivering content to employees, customers, and information seekers when they need that content to get the job done-all to deliver demonstrable value to the bottom line. I look forward to another exciting year collaborating with the EContent team and our readers-and to seeing how the sparks of innovation fire up the content economy.
2009 EContent 100 Categories
Classification & Taxonomy
Taxonomy is one of those words that just sound hard. Well, it is. But the good news is that it is simply a way of classifying things. When it comes to classifying content, tools range from autocategorization algorithms to prepackaged taxonomies, and they find themselves woven into many other content categories, from services to search. All to make it easier to find what you need exactly when you need it.
Everyone knows they should play well with others. But frankly, that's tough enough for a lot of folks. When those others span the globe and never meet, things get a whole lot more complicated. Collaboration tools enable teamwork, web-style, which emphasizes shared knowledge and member contribution, regardless of proximity.
Grease must be applied to the wheels of commerce lest they squeak-nay, grind-to a halt. When what is being bought and sold is measured in bits and bytes, solutions that enable the buying and selling of digital content are there to keep the transactions humming smoothly along.
Content Creation, Production, and Digital Publishing
Formerly the purview of the privileged few with access to a printing press, creating content is everyone's business today. Luckily, tools keep cropping up that help us make it, convert it, use it, and-most importantly-reuse it in ways as varied as the people creating the content in the first place.
The paperboy may never get the daily news onto your porch, but you can count on the digital delivery infrastructure and tools to help all the news that's fit to, uh, print find its way to you: online, in your inbox, or in line at the grocery store.
CM and its kin-ECM, WCM, DAM, MAM, TCM, and so on-are the darlings of technology acronyms. CM's predecessors, document management and knowledge management, along with new buddies such as globalization and localization tools, nip at its heels as it leads the pack as the end-all and do-all for managing today's amorphous information masses. Yet while content management purports to be all things to all people, its true power may actually lie in its flexibility to change shape to fit each new business problem set before it.
Over and above the trafficking in entertainment, business, and academic content, our very identities are being transacted online. Thus, beyond digital rights management tools (which guard our content like bouncers at the backstage door), we must have tools that bring a more subtle approach to the nuances of corporate content, which is also in need of safekeeping.
Fee-Based Info Services
While many say, "Information wants to be free," or at least that most people want their content to bear that price tag, another old saying goes, "you get what you pay for." Gutenberg-era dinosaurs and social media whippersnappers alike vie for information-seeking dollars by flexing the power packed in the "e" of econtent.
Intranets & Portals
Infusing organizations with an internal knowledge and information hub might not be as hot as portals that purport to proffer every piece of content on a given subject. Yet intranets-despite their unsexy image-bear many similarities to their more outgoing cousins. So it follows that these unlikely kin share some powerful tools and technologies to suffuse content inside and outside the enterprise.
These days, content gets around. See all those cell phones? Yep, people are doing a lot more than talking on them today: From stock tickers to subscriptions services and search, content has places to go and people who want to see it.
Search Engines & Technologies
There's a lot more to searching than the G-word. Through algorithms, bots, spiders, metatext, and more, people are using more than single-keyword searches to find ever-more-targeted information on the web or behind the firewall.
While many bemoan the erosion of human interaction in the wake of the internet age, still others extol the virtues of the extension of community to all corners of the globe-if only virtually. Yet, without a doubt, the web has opened up a world of opportunity for readers to become the writers, reviewers, and producers. Here we look at the tools that help proliferate the vox populi.
CLICK HERE TO READ THE 2009-2010 ECONTENT 100 LIST