|Integration: Capitalize on the Opportunities
Organizations today face unrelenting pressure to achieve greater
productivity, higher revenues per employee and smart responses
to clients and competitors. To realize these objectives, business
professionals need access to content resources that enable them
to answer questions and to quickly make informed decisions. While
there is a staggering amount of content available from different
sources and in different formats, all the content in the world
is of little value unless it is trustworthy, easy to access and
integrated into the user's work flow.
For the past 30 years commercial search services have invested
tremendous resources to license a broad set of content and fine
tune the search software, so that professional researchers can
obtain either a specific answer to almost any business question
or background information to support business decisions. They
have successfully built large repositories of premium content
underpinned with solid information architecture. Development
continues in both of these arenasmore high value content
and advanced technology to store, search, and deliver that content.
Now these commercial search services also face the dual challenges
of helping client organizations identify a manageable amount
of content pertinent to their business to feed into enterprise
work flow processes, while making the search interface even easier
to use for a client base comprised of knowledge workers cutting
across all industries and all functional areas. The extent to
which the complexity of a myriad of information acquisition
and integration tasks is masked from the ultimate consumer of
the information will determine how much of the publisher's or
aggregator's content actually surfaces at the desktop of the
user and is evident in his/her work products.
A recent Deloitte Consulting study, "Enterprise Content Management:
Taming Content Chaos," claims that "the average corporate database
carries 100 terabytes, the same amount of space required to archive
all the pages posted to the World Wide Web between 1996-2001." The
same study also notes: "Smart organizations have realized that
success rests not on getting content into a database,
but on getting the right content outto the people
who need it, when and how they need it."1
Understanding Organizational Information Needs
What is the principal cause of failure to achieve the expected
return on investment (ROI) for information services? It is the
lack of focus on needs of users in the initial selection and
deployment of resources or services.
Content buyers may understand information needs of certain
functional groups, but it is increasingly difficult to have a
handle on the needs of all potential consumers of premium content
in an organization since their needs may vary drastically. In
order for users to perceive content as strategically valuable,
buyers must be disciplined about probing for specific needs before
acquiring and launching external content; they must be equally
as disciplined when checking utilization rates and user satisfaction
when it is time to renew subscriber agreements.
At the same time, content buyers should be active participants
on a team or teams responsible for the enterprise content strategy.
Why is content being amassed? What are the costs involved? How
will it be used? Who will use it? How will it be maintained?
Is the infrastructure scalable?
The enterprise content management strategy should define content
requirements for employees, business partners and public Web
sites. At one time, principal content buyers were information
professionals; now, content acquisition is a critical business
strategy and necessarily involves many departments. This team
must develop a rigorous methodology for evaluating content quality,
vendors and technology solutions so that the tools and resources
selected actually fulfill the promise of enabling distinct user
groups to access and use content they need.
For these reasons, content buyers have every right to anticipate
working with vendors who understand content in context, understand
how it fits into the workflow of various user groups and understand
technology options for delivery and integration.
As an example, LexisNexis has several groups of specialists
outside of the sales organization dedicated to helping clients
with the challenges of providing access to the content set that
best meets their needs. They have worked closely with various
functional groups over the years to understand how these groups
buy and use content. Their insights and direct customer input
fuel the bulk of product development efforts today.
With an increasing number of platforms, software packages,
standards and interfaces deployed for content management, it
may be in the clients' best interest to work with a content vendor
who trains and certifies integrators that are intimately familiar
with its content structure and with enterprise applications and
technology platforms. Rather than building an integration department
and developing competencies to cover all aspects of integration,
some aggregators are choosing the training and certification
path. As part of the methodology content buyers use to evaluate
information provider partners, they must carefully assess whether
or not they will have access to the technical support they need
either directly from the vendor or from partnerships certified
by the vendor.
Information aggregators need to consider content acquisition
from two perspectives:
What high-value content sources must still be added
to the core service in anticipation of ever-changing user requirements
and to round out its global offering?
How can aggregators help clients select and acquire
slices of content to meet requirements of specific subsets
In years past, the corporate philosophy of the traditional
search services appeared to be an effort to acquire everything in
terms of digital business content. With a substantial base of
key publications across a range of industries, the strategy has
now shifted to focus on licensing global content in multiple
languages and content sources in particular areas that align
with a more narrowly defined corporate strategy. Current initiatives
at LexisNexis, for example, include licensing more business and
financial sources as well as enhancing public records data.
Clients today expect help from vendors to select and acquire
slices of unstructured content matching particular business processes
to feed corporate portals or intranets. They also expect that
vendors have negotiated broad distribution rights, enabling them
to serve up the content in various ways once it is in the client
One of the beauties of current technology stems from the ability
to line it up with human processes to expedite business processes.
It can be matched up with cognitive functions of humans (via
graphical user interfaces) and applications to help users find
answers based on what they are doing or work processes in which
they are engaged, such as finding company information to complement
internal information in CRM, ERP or knowledge management systems.
Content integrators are just scratching the surface in terms
of learning how their content can be integrated into enterprise
applications. It can be:
Packaged topicallye.g., any news about the oil
industryand quickly pushed via e-mail or wireless devices
to a user or group of users.
Tailored to information needs of a business unit, practice
area, corporate-wide department or geographic location and
easily delivered to intranets and portals with XML coded records.
Prepackaged for industry or functional areas with search
forms, templates and plug-in search interfaces or interface
screens customized for the client.
It is certain that many more integration techniques will be
imagined and created as storage options are simplified, as clients
demand access to multimedia formats, as bandwidth increases and
as users begin to realize a positive impact to their productivity.
Some questions remain: What information resources do mass markets
really need? What are the opportunities in those markets? What
is the value proposition for the client?
Commercial search services have some of the answers. It is
clear that back-end preparation and structuring of the data are
extremely important to the customereven though the customer
may never see or understand how much care is taken with these
processes and how much leading edge research is applied.
The client needs to be able to sort through overwhelming amounts
of information to find what is relevant, authoritative, timely
and actionable to perform his or her work or to share with a
team of individuals working in related areas. The user does not
particularly care about the source of the information as long
as it is trustworthy and accurate, so some answers may come from
internal content repositories and others from external services.
To help with obtaining answers and then navigating within the
answer sets, information users can expect to see increased use
Linking technology (e.g., Smart Tags)
Taxonomies for indexing and categorization of content
(e.g., SmartIndexing). Taxonomies must be carefully developed
and maintained to accurately reflect the substance of content
published in various languages to a global audience. Classification
schemes or taxonomies will come to be essential for managing
structured data as well as unstructured content if users
are to successfully search across content repositories.
XML tagging of records for platform-agnostic delivery
of content to the user for on-site customization or personalization
(e.g., LexisNexis Direct).
XML tagging, which explains both the content and structure
of a document, has quickly become the standard for enabling data
exchange between business systems; in fact, it is now considered
the common denominator format for sending and storing data and
information. XML promises greater flexibility for formatting
documents being requested and viewed in a Web browser, on platforms
such as mobile devices or in other enterprise applications. Published
business and news items with XML tags can be transferred to various
internal repositories and customized for display in portals,
corporate intranets, electronic collaboration workspaces or other
knowledge sharinggiving buyers of this type of content
much more value for their investment in the content and giving
IT departments more return on their investment in portals or
other content distribution destinations (see Figure 1).
Evolving content management and deployment technologies provide
wonderful career development opportunities for information professionals.
Where information professionals once primarily pulled documents
and content from commercial services, they can now also apply
their expertise to help with navigation. They can take advantage
of tools provided by content providers or aggregators to analyze
and categorize content for internal systems, prioritize, add
editorial comments, push appropriate content to specific user
groups, monitor use and train their colleagues on specific applications
to maximize agreements with vendors. In addition to helping a
single user at a time make a good business decision, they can
extend their reach to helping their companies gain seamless access
to a wealth of resources that enable good business decisions.
1. Deloitte Research, "Enterprise Content Management: Taming
Content Chaos" ©2002 Deloitte Consulting and Deloitte & Touche
LLP. All rights reserved. ISBN 1-892384-21-7. Http://www.dc.com/research.
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other LexisNexis products and services, contact your LexisNexis
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