XML in Action: A Closer Look at How the Technology Inspires Creativity and Innovation

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Organizations of various sizes and industries are using XML in equally diverse ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their business operations. The technology is also helping companies discover innovative ways in which to generate new revenue opportunities. Both internally and externally, companies are finding XML to be a valuable enabler in helping employees improve how they complete tasks and serve end customers, and how customers serve themselves. Here are four examples of how companies, from publishers to car manufacturers, are able to repurpose and reuse their valuable content to either enter new markets or better serve their current ones.

XML Enables Wiley to Further Its Content Strategy
For years, publisher John Wiley & Sons has created platforms in which customers can gain easy access to Wiley content in a variety of formats. For instance, Wiley InterScience, an online database of scientific and technical content, was launched by the publisher in 1997.

XML technology has enabled Wiley to continue to build on its strategy of making the most of its content through the creation of Wiley Custom Select, a publishing application launched less than a year ago. Using MarkLogic Server, an XML server, Wiley can store content, make that content more easily searchable, and essentially reassemble it into new products that can be converted into various formats. "Because of how quickly you can search information and deliver it, to a webpage, for example, it allows you to imagine new kinds of digital products," says John Kreisa, director of industry solutions for Mark Logic.

Wiley has worked with Mark Logic on other projects. But this particular initiative began late in 2008 and was released into the marketplace in February. "In order to continue the transformation of our business, XML is a foundational piece of that strategy," says Gregory St. John, VP of web publishing technologies for Wiley. "Customers want our information, but they want it in a lot of different ways. Print is one of them. But print is immutable. You can't change it or manipulate it. Online you can. To have that, we need to have it in XML so we can create products on-the-fly for our customers the way they want them."
"Wiley Custom Select is a whole strategic initiative that comes straight from Wiley to really change how they're making their content available to users," adds Kreisa. "It's all enabled by XML underneath and allows them to have that multigranular access to the information that allows them to pick just a chapter, a paragraph. At any level of granularity, they can go in and reuse the information and allow the faculty [to build their custom material]."

St. John explains that by using an XML database instead of a traditional publisher database, such as Sybase or Oracle, Wiley content is more easily found. "The difference is that the content is in a form of XML. It's much more discoverable," says St. John. "You can find it by querying the database by subject, topic, classification, hierarchy, and taxonomy to pull out the relevant choices and you see them very clearly on the screen in front of you. It brings a high degree of automation to the process and it creates a rich experience in terms of discovery as you might find through books or catalogs."

Users-both Wiley sales representatives and professors-can search across Wiley content and create custom materials. They can query the database on various topics; they are then presented with a set of search results, which comprises relevant content that appears in a variety of Wiley publications. Users can then preview content and determine if they want to add it to the publication they are creating-they can even receive real-time price quotes as they add each piece of content. Once they select all of the content, users can even customize a cover for their newly created textbooks. The process is complete when users place their orders, which can be generated in various formats, from a printed book to a miniwebsite that individual users can access to view the selected content.

St. John says that Wiley Custom Select "opens up new revenue channels for us" and that the company has seen an increase in sales as a result. He adds that Wiley plans to expand the functionality of Wiley Custom Select from the higher education market to other segments of its business, such as the For Dummies series which is geared toward consumers. "Everybody wants information that is most relevant to them," says St. John.

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