Introduction: 2006 EContent 100


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Welcome to the sixth annual EContent 100—our list of companies that matter most in the digital content industry.

All good things must come to an end. The good news is that the EContent 100 list is not one of them. However, despite the steady march of consolidation and the rapid clip of innovation, our list bears at least a third, if not half, of the same names from one year to the next. To put this in a more positive light: Some of the truly great digital content industry players continue not only to survive, but to thrive.

That said, five years ago I decided it would be a good idea to profile each of the companies on the list, and that decision has been well-received. But five years of profiling many of the same companies, with the same word count…well, the judges and I felt it was time to rethink the way we were doing things.

As we did last year, a dozen of us got together in our Socialtext wiki and went through our now firmly established (if unscientific) process of company selection. We carefully reconsidered last year's list members and kept only those companies who we agreed continue to lead the industry. For some this means market share, but for most it means thought- and technology-leadership, innovation, and even experimentation. Then we each threw our new nominations into the fray. The group eagerly pounced on this year's crop of contenders and only the strongest survived.

Here we present the 100 companies that lead the digital content industry today. Of course, we want you to learn about them all—but this year, during the voting process, I paid particular attention to the companies that generated the liveliest banter among the judges, and we've decided to profile only 20 of these in this issue. (Mind you, these are the companies that made the list; profiling a few who didn't make it might have also been pretty entertaining stuff.)

So after a month of bickering, haggling, and yes, voting, we have arrived at what I believe is another fine list that represents the evolution of our industry, from one that began its sheltered life in the ivory towers of the academy to one that today finds itself pulsing through every corner of the wide world and, of course, the web.

—Michelle Manafy


CATEGORIES

Content Commerce
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 Security
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.

Blogging
Power to the people: Everyone's a publisher now. Blogging tools have made it possible for anyone to create, disseminate, search for, and monetize thoughts on just about anything. But what's good for the masses can also be a good thing for the enterprise as blogging fuels internal and external communication and collaboration from the grass roots to the CEO's jet.

Classification & Taxonomy
Taxonomy is one of those words that just sound hard. Well, it is. But the good news is that it is essentially just a way of classifying things. When it comes to classifying content, tools range from auto-categorization algorithms to prepackaged taxonomies, and 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.

Collaboration
Everyone knows they should play well with others. But frankly, that's tough enough for a lot of folks. Now when those others span the globe and may 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.

Content Creation, Production, & 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.

Content Delivery
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.

Content Management
CM and its kin—ECM, WCM, DAM, MAM, TCM, etc.—are the darlings of technology acronyms. Its predecessors, document management and knowledge management, along with new buddies like globalization and localization tools, nip at CM's 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.

Fee-Based Info Services
While many say, "the web 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 un-sexy image—bear many similarities to their more outgoing cousins. So it goes that these unlikely kin share some powerful tools and technologies to suffuse content in and outside the enterprise.

Mobile Content
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 subscription services and web research to mini-movies, content has got places to go and people that want to see.

Search Engines & Technologies
There's a lot more to searching than the G-word. Be it 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.

Podcasting
Lovechild of the name of Apple's "iPod" and the term "broadcasting," podcasting took off like a shot in 2004. Like its terrestrial forefather, radio, the term encompasses both the content and the delivery method. While born out of the entertainment end of the content family tree, podcasting has shot out meaningful roots in the enterprise market.


Click here to read about the EContent 100 Judging Team.
Click here to see the 2006 EContent 100 List.
Clikc here to read the 20/20--profiles of the twenty companies that generated the most judicial banter during the voting process.