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

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"We're not only producing all of the materials for our releases, updating our existing documentation simultaneously, but also each of the writers is working on one or more other projects in XML," adds Barraclough. "This means the efficiencies we've gained are peoples' time. It's not taking as much time to write this way. We haven't seen maximum return on this yet, but we're getting more done with the same number of people."
Showers says that Symitar created its first XML-based deliverable, which was well-received by the company's client. The success had led the process to become a companywide initiative, notes Barraclough.

"We have a number of other departments who are coming to us to help them with their needs by using the skills we've learned since we've acquired the XMetaL software and learned how to code with DITA," he says.

XML Drives Online Channel for Mercedes-Benz USA
Managing content on websites today is more complex than ever. Ensuring that each visitor has the most positive and relevant experience is a challenge. That challenge becomes even more daunting when those visitors represent different customer segments. For car manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA), those constituents consist of a variety of groups, from dealers to end consumers-all of which need the most relevant messages and information possible in order to remain engaged with a website and to make appropriate decisions based on what they see.

"Traditionally organizations manage webpages, HTML pages. But more and more, companies are looking to manage fragments of content, very specific pieces of content," explains Carlos Carvajal, senior director of analyst relations and product strategy for Vignette. "The reason that distinction is important-page versus content management-is because if you start managing at a more granular level, and that's where XML comes in, then it makes the content a lot easier to repurpose across many different websites; not just across websites, but across different customer touchpoints like an iPhone or any other handheld device."

MBUSA utilizes XML to control the content on its websites in order to update sections of content, using Vignette Content Management to create, edit, manage, and publish that content. According to Naru Raghavan, supervisor of content management for MBUSA, all of the content that appears on the company's close to 450 websites is created in XML. "By using XML, you basically create the content once," says Raghavan. "It's a matter of repurposing the content." It would be extremely difficult and time consuming for MBUSA to create new content for every facet of the company's business for every user segment. In addition to dealers' sites and sites geared toward customers, the company also operates sites for its employees.

"The ability to use XML means they can be very efficient in the way that they have information in one location and it flows through the system and shows up in multiple websites," says Gerardo Dada, senior director of product marketing for Vignette. Ensuring that the content on the various websites presents a consistent brand image is crucial, and Vignette Dynamic Portal Module and Vignette Portal help MBUSA create that consistency and also personalize the sites to the specific visitors. "This is how the entire MBUSA.com works," says Raghavan. "Every piece of content is created in Vignette and exported to the Flash layer as XML." Along with Vignette's content management and portal solutions, MBUSA also uses the rich media functions to manage its site content.

Raghavan notes that one way in which he can quantify the success of the initiative is through the reduced use of another communication channel-the telephone. "We notice less calls. If you put [up] something that is easy to use, easy to navigate, and easy to understand, the call volume goes down," he says. Overall, XML is more efficiently and effectively enabling MBUSA to communicate its value proposition to a wide audience in a cohesive manner.

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