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Perhaps it doesn't strike you as a surprise, but Microsoft just launched the new SharePoint product site using SharePoint 2007. Some might be surprised, since Redmond's previous Web CMS product, "MCMS," did not get this kind of love. What's telling, though is that Microsoft is making this move so late in the product's lifecycle, when otherwise Redmond is famous for making their internal teams run on "dog food" versions of software - really early alpha release).
As readers of the SharePoint Report 2009 know, web content management is not a real strength of SharePoint. Given the challenges we've heard from customers --multi-lingual management, ease of content entry, reuse challenges, accessibility, and so on -- I'll hope that Microsoft will share their own experiences with the rest of us, and perhaps inform improvements in the upcoming SharePoint 2010 version.
Maish Nichani has written an extensive article on designing site structures for intranets and websites. To quote:
A good site structure makes users happy. They can easily find, understand and use the information on your site. For the business, this makes all the difference. In this article I’ll go through principles behind good site structures and describe a methodology for creating site structures.
We're often asked why there are so few ECM open source options, when at the same time the Web CMS marketplace supports so many open source alternatives? In the Web CMS world, there are easily 20+ open source CMS options. We cover 10 of the most significant in our Web Content Management research. Conversely, there are really only 4 ECM options globally available today. For the record those are Nuxeo, KnowledgeTree, Alfresco, and InfoGrid.
ECM platforms are by their nature highly complex systems that revolve around enterprise processes (sometimes working in tandem with business process management software), as well as typically interface with a wide range of other technologies from imaging through rendering to archiving. A high percentage of ECM deployments integrate with legacy business applications such as CRM or ERP solutions. That's very different from most Web CMS deployments -- which are usually more standalone in nature.
Part of the historic challenge for open source ECM has been an allergic reaction to integrating with Microsoft Windows and Office. Fortunately, that's changing a bit.
But the real story here may lie in business models. Commercial -style open source seems to be a better fit for ECM rather than the more common (in the Web CMS world) community-driven open source options. Commercial style open source such as Alfresco may not charge you up front licensing fees, but they do provide centralized support and development services (for a potentially hefty fee) -- in the same manner as their fully commercial/proprietary rivals. It's a model that ECM buyers who are inclined toward open source are comfortable with and for some enterprises, it is a model that can work well.
Many ECM buyers look warily at the CMS world where open source projects have a tendency to come in and out of fashion. Today, they see Joomla, Drupal, and a few others in fashion, but also a fairly large graveyard full of currently unfashionable community driven frameworks. Some of those might be revived at some future point, but many are for all intents and purposes dead. So, for ECM buyers, the commercial models of the likes of Nuxeo and Alfresco can act as a form of insurance for buyers. The buyer feels safe that their acquired software, (as long as they pay the maintenance fees) will be supported and developed in the long term. Clearly it is not a 100% guarantee, but it is something.
I think in time more open source ECM solutions will become available. We know for sure that a number of fully commercial vendors have investigated the possibility of open sourcing their solutions, and at some point one of them will take the jump and others may well follow. But what is holding them back at the moment is the tiny revenue streams that open source ECM vendors can boast, in comparison to their more proprietary rivals. For no matter how you do the math -- be it seat numbers or revenue -- open source still represents a tiny portion of the ECM market, and despite all the negativity about the economy, multi-million dollar ECM deals still get signed on a regular basis. And as long as that remains the case, there is little real incentive for proprietary vendors to walk away from that money and sell maintenance-only contracts.
I, for one, would like to see a few more open source ECM vendors. Right now, as subscribers to our ECM Suites research know, the four open source ECM players are very regional in their customer bases and don't often compete head-to-head for the same business. There is enough business out there and ample opportunity for enterprising folk to rethink and reinvent the ECM paradigm. And true competition among the open source efforts would undoubtedly bring even more positive product enhancements and value to you the buyer.
There's too much here to write up in one blog post, so I'll pick one of the cherries for you here. Last week's Enterprise Search Summit in New York ended with roundtable discussions -- which meandered around several topics, and then down the escalators into the hotel lobby.
I was discussing querying a search engine with Daniel Tunkelang (Chief Scientist of Endeca), standing across the street from one of the ubiquitous Starbucks. He told me search phrases are much like coffee orders: if you don't go to Starbucks often, you'll hesitantly ask for a large coffee, with milk, maybe skim milk, and you'll say please. If you go there every day, you just go in and say "venti skim milk latte," pay, and leave with your coffee.
When we use Google on the web, we're used to the same kind of formulas -- we know Google's query language because we've grown accustomed to it, not because it's particularly good or bad at understanding what we want.
Endeca is doing research in parsing user's queries into meaningful commands for a search engine (as are many others), and it'll be interesting to see what they come up with. But there is an useful insight here that has a broader appeal: while public web search engines (like Google) have an interest in making the parsing seem easy, within the enterprise there's no reason to hide what processing has been performed on your original query.
As I walked into Starbucks the next morning for my daily dose of caffeine (sadly lacking my Lavazza Qualità Oro when traveling), I realized it once took me several attempts explaining this as "a large espresso," "an espresso with three extra shots," or "a double doppio." I broke the code because I could hear the order go to the barista as a "quad."
Maybe you should let your users see what you're actually ordering the search engine to serve up, as well. Show what you're expanding, removing, or translating. And don't forget that "no results" isn't necessarily a bad thing -- as long as you're sure there really are no results to display. It's more helpful to be straightforward than overly polite!
Hi. My name is Jennifer Glasser. I am a recruiter. I have a client who is looking to hire an architect for their new CMS system. It is a very visible position and an exciting project to create a new CMS system for their eLearning, based on DITA. They will be using SharePoint, but experience with it is not important.
ICANN recently launched its own Twitter feed. And since ICANN is a global organization, it launched more than one language feed — one in English and one in Spanish.
This is not the most scalable solution. And I’m not trying to pick on Twitter; the issue effects any multinational company or organization.
For instance, let’s say ICANN launches a Portuguese feed for Brazil. The address would have to read twitter.com/icann_pt_br. Similar challenges arise with French (Canada vs. France). And even the English and Spanish feeds are inherently going to exclude various flavors of the languages.
In addition, if I were wanting to be a pain, I could register icann_ru to beat ICANN to that address. And this highlights a larger emerging issue (and opportunity) as Twitter becomes more corporate and less personal — how to ensure that brand holders have access to their names. I always thought this would be a nice revenue source for Twitter, similar to the way that registries profit from domain registrations.
Ideally, Twitter would allow you to set up one address and then forward language-specific feeds to the subscriber based on their preference — sort of like how language negotiation works now with Web browsers. For instance, if I type in Google.com, the language I get aligns with the language preference of my browser.
But therein lies the challenge of Twitter — it doesn’t just send feeds to a browser. It sends the feeds to browsers and mobile devices and even Twitter apps, like Tweetie, which I use on occasion.
ICANN is now migrating its subscribers from icann_en to icann. No word yet on what will happen with icann_es.
What do you think Twitter should do to solve this issue?
Adaptive Path’s latest R&D project has been released: Mobile Literacy, which addresses the design of mobile technology in emerging markets (in our case, rural India).
If those intrigue you, then I’d move to the deep research. Our team spent 6 weeks in the Kutch district of Western India to understand the how uneducated and illiterate peoples use technology, particularly mobile phones, in their lives. A big challenge is that these phones are designed for Western (specifically, northern European) audiences, and many of their assumptions don’t hold true in this area.
The most important thing is to rally others to take part as well. That’s why we’ve made all of our research available, and why we’re sharing the design principles that emerged from that research. We recognize that our concepts are just two of many that could address the challenges of bringing mobile technology to emerging markets. I hope we see many more!
It saddens me to announce that I just received word that PUBSNET, Inc.—the owner of the Documentation and Training Conference Series—has announced they are shutting their doors and going out of business. As program manager, I worked hard to make this a quality event series and to help raise the bar for others in our industry. But, all things come to an end, and in this case, the end of PUBSNET is upon us.
As I am not an owner, board member, nor employee of the company—I was just contracted to market, set up and run the event—I am not privy to the intimate details behind this decision, but suffice it to say that due to the economic climate we find ourselves in today, conference registrations were nearly non-existent and sponsorships were down 60% from same period last year. I’d imagine that after careful analysis of the business situation they faced, PUBSNET made the decision they thought was best for them.
Here’s the official announcement I received:
Due to the strong economic downturn that has negatively and severely affected our conference business, all future DocTrain conferences are cancelled and the business is dissolving. We are sorry for the inconvenience this causes to our customers and staff; we tried our best to weather this storm, but it is clear we cannot.
It should be noted that conferences in general are doing poorly this year. There will many others that throw in the towel. I know this because I am on the advisory board for Meta Context, Inc. creators of Confabb.com, the world’s largest directory of conferences and a conference services provider for conference program managers and planners. And, a quick search of Google will provide you with anecdotal evidence that conference attendance is down 30-40%. Biotech events are down. Game developer conferences, too. And, that’s just the data available for the conferences that elect to disclose that information. I believe the decline is much steeper in most industries. We’re planning to survey the 22,000 conference organizers in the database to see what we can learn.
The real way to understand the impact of the economy on trade show type events is to ask event service providers. One Los Angeles event services company manager summed it up this way: “2009 really sucks for us. Last year, our biggest event needed 340 booth pods for their expo hall; this year, the same event needed only 60 pods. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that we’re not going to be in business for long if this keeps up.”
I’ve also had the privilege of getting a few banquet food servers tipsy at a local watering hole. After a few kamikazes, one server said, “If we don’t stop seeing cancellations, we’ll be the ones being canceled next.”
Companies around the globe are cutting back on non-essential travel. According to USA today, it’s a drastic cutback, not a minor reduction in travel budgets. Trade shows are often tossed into the non-essential category. The lower the employee is in the corporate hierarchy, the less likely it is he/she will be given approval to travel.
A The Content Wrangler of 500 technical communicators found that getting funds for training is just as challenging as for events. The survey asked: In this current economic climate, how likely is it that you could get funding to attend necessary training classes during 2009? The answers:
- 4.% said: “No way, dude! - Obtaining funds for necessary training is not possible this year”
- 21.9% said: “Likely to be a challenge - Obtaining funds for necessary training is not likely this year”
- 27.9% said: “Maybe yes, maybe no - Obtaining funds for necessary training is just as challenging as obtaining funds for all other services”
Only 7.6% said “Should be easy - Obtaining funds for necessary training is easier than obtaining funds for some other services”; with 2.8% saying: “No problem - Obtaining funds for necessary training is easy”.
Technology industry commentator Robert Scoble predicted the demise of the trade show industry in a December 2008 blog post. He blamed social networking sites, blogs, and web-based video for the downfall. And, if you are an Apple fan, you know that Apple withdrew its support for MacWorld, the largest Apple event in the world. It’s happening all over. It’s a good and a bad thing.
It’s bad for obvious reasons. Trade shows help the economy, so every one that dies damages hotels, airlines, audio visual providers, printers, caterers, event decorators, internet service providers, and others involved in trade show production. They are fun and provide cubicle-dwelling knowledge workers with something to look forward to—an escape, if you will, from the daily grind. The help us network with our peers in social settings. They help us grow as professionals—and, for those who seek the spotlight—as presenters. These benefits are difficult to duplicate outside of in-person conferences. Difficult, but not impossible.
The good thing about the demise of the trade show is that it will prompt us to be creative. Webinar and online conference providers will be aggressively courting us, trying to get us to move to online meetings. Flash and web-based video training will take off. Webinars, too! And, those who struggled to get funding for in-person events will be able to participate in online events more easily, without missing work. Travel budget requests will not be needed. Training dollars will go much further.
On a positive note, I don’t want folks to read this article and think that trade shows are dying altogether. They’re not. But, the ones who are not strong, who cannot take money from other revenue sources and invest them into their events, may find it difficult to stay afloat. Events that focus on a specific product—user groups conferences—for example, will flourish and grow. These events aren’t considered “non-essential”. After all, if your firm just invested hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) in software or services used to run your organization, travel budget restrictions will likely not be enforced. I’ve attended three product-specific events this year, including last week’s MarkLogic User Conference, and each and every one was jam-packed! According to organizers at these events, their attendance has been up as much as 30% over same period last year.
While I feel badly that the event series I helped to reshape did not make it through the economic storm, I do feel a bit better knowing there are new opportunities on the horizon. And, I’ll take this opportunity to say that I’ve offered all of the sponsors and presenters that were on the roster for DocTrain DITA a complimentary slot in The Content Wrangler Summer School program—a free online education series that will feature many of the topics that were to be showcased at the conferences. Details to follow.
So, if you were upset because you were not able to attend the DocTrain DITA conference, you’ll be happy to know that you will now be able to participate in many of the free, web-based educational opportunities we have on the roster this summer. No management approval needed. No travel budgets. No expense reports. And, no waiting in line in airport security. Doesn’t sound so bad, after all.
The shocking news was made public at this year’s WordCamp Mid-Atlantic—WordPress’ annual conference for the platform’s biggest fans—where, strangely enough, Six Apart co-founder Anil Dash delivered the keynote address.
If all of this sounds a little strange to you, you’re not alone. The ability to dip hands into two of the biggest cookie jars at once has got a number of bloggers scratching their heads. Six Apart defends their decision from a considerate angle: “we love making the Web better and more connected, and we want to help all publishers succeed, regardless of what tools they use. We believe in the power of blogging, and that’s why we’ve got a whole bunch of powerful services available for WordPress users,” their site states.
Does this mean major competition for WordPress? Probably not. Despite Six Apart’s efforts, WordPress has remained the blogging platform of choice for quite some time; however, the offerings will do their part in broadening the Six Apart audience, which certainly doesn’t hurt. The new tools include TypePad AntiSpam, Six Apart Media, TypePad Connect and Blogs.com, and more information on them can be found here.
If you follow John Mancini, President of AIIM, on Twitter, then you’ve heard this news already: Email is still a major Legal Discovey risk.
AIIM (news, site), together with EMC (news, site) and ASG (news, site), conducted a survey on email management with 1,100 AIIM professionals from industries such as government, IT and financial service industries. They asked questions about current policies and processes and what they found was interesting and a little confusing.
Continuing to move and shake the world of XBRL are our friends at JustSystems (news, site), who after announcing their new XBRL Report a couple weeks ago are back again with a partnership to leverage data aggregation, content creation and publishing of financial reports using the business reporting language.
If you use SharePoint as a primary solution within your organization, you know that it lacks archiving capabilities. MessageSolution has developed a suite that is designed to fulfill this need. At TechEd North America, they announced the MessageSolution Email & File Archive Enterprise Suite with SharePoint Archiving.
In its latest bi-monthly update, Edentity (news, site) adds some 20 new features and over 100 fixes to its Agility web content management system. The fixes beef-up its content editor, better support is added for image and document management with more control over image formatting and there is an improved table wizard.
As we’ve discussed before, the semantic web is supposed to help with issues where computers just have no idea of what they’re seeing in any context. The problem was getting people to take advantage of this technology in any real numbers.
Well, if you care about Search Engine Optimization (and who doesn’t?) then it’s time to wake up and smell the semantics. Otherwise, your search results will plummet as SEO gold goes to those who take advantage of Google’s new tool: the Rich Snippet.
WoodWing Software (news, site) has a list of clients that reads like an international Who’s Who of the print industry. Acquia (news, site) is the commercial arm that offers products and support for the open source software web content management system Drupal (news, site).
Last week, the two companies announced a new partnership that will see WoodWing’s Enterprise 6 Content Publishing Platform ship with Acquia Drupal as the default content management system.
The result is an integrated package that gives publishers a tool that is simple to use as well as the ability to adopt print content for web users who are looking for interactive and engaging online experiences.