Models of Content Management

Models of Content Management

Organizations have a variety of content throughout their enterprise, ranging from simple files, including word processing documents, PDFs, and spreadsheets, to more sophisticated documents such as Web pages or those filled with digital graphics or complex formulas and tables. Whether data is basic or complex, organizations can make the most of their valuable intellectual assets by implementing a content management system that weaves this disparate content into a meaningful content network model.

Traditional business information, including contracts, sales reports, accounting statements, and status reports, is often stored in simple applications such as spreadsheets or word processing documents. However, if these documents are not networked and are not centralized in a repository for multiple users to access, they can be limiting. Organizing this type of data in a content management system is simple and quick and provides organizations with immediate benefits, including security, easy access to content, linking in workflow, and advanced searches for information (see Figure 1).

The example shown in Figure 1 isn't robust enough to enable the simultaneous update of the spreadsheet by authorized users. For example, if one person in the organization is updating the spreadsheet, this creates a bottleneck because other users, although they can view it, can't update this spreadsheet at the same time. This can restrain the whole spreadsheet update process if there are many users who need to perform updates.

While this poses a challenge, organizations can easily create an ad hoc XML content management model to resolve this issue. An ad hoc XML model can represent the columns in the spreadsheet and capture the data as components, which would allow salesman A to update his prospects in the spreadsheet while saleswoman B is updating a separate component for her prospects (see Figure 2). Through this solution, organizations become empowered because they have control of their content at a component level, which makes advanced processing, validation, and more refined workflow possible.

However, because some organizations have a plethora of detailed and complex content, such as product documentation, repair manuals, and highly technical engineering information, they need to go a step beyond an ad hoc XML content management model and, instead, implement a networked content management model. This model encompasses the content shown in Figures 1 and 2, but also includes complex documents that have extensively defined document type definitions (DTDs). This networked content management model provides more advanced processes, such as decomposition and cloning, to make an organization's intricate information more manageable and digestible. Additionally, a content management system should provide repurposing, workflow, and cross-media publishing across the content network model.

An organization can also build a network of information by linking data as shown in Figures 1 and 2. For example, a saleswoman can access a request for proposal (RFP) that links to her client's original RFP, and when she is looking at her prospects list she can simultaneously click on a link to open the RFP (see Figure 3).

Users can also click on a link that would bring them to a client or prospect demographic list. This component-level content would contain all of the contact information about a client or prospect, including address, phone number, e-mail, and other pertinent information.

The most efficient way, though, for organizations to manage, access, and publish their content enterprise-wide for multiple uses is to leverage the full capabilities of a content management system. A cross-media publishing system for content management, like Vasont, offers advanced modeling capabilities that automate the separation of the content into more digestible modules.

One way to visualize how Vasont creates and manages large volumes of dispersed content is by thinking of a cookbook and the structure of its content. A cookbook contains chapters, and within the chapters are many recipes. And the recipes can be further broken down into ingredients. Additionally, within the cookbook are graphics and charts used to represent the recipes, ingredients, and prepared dishes. Vasont can store the cookbook's content in the following four distinct models (see Figure 4):

  • A cookbook model that houses recipes and their graphics in containers
  • A recipe model that holds all of the recipes, regardless of which cookbook(s) they appear in
  • An ingredients model that stores all of the ingredients that were used in any of the recipes, regardless of the cookbook(s) they appear in
  • A graphics model that keeps all of the graphics, no matter where they're used

    Because the system categorizes and stores data in modules, it provides numerous benefits for organizations.

    Maximizing Content Reuse
    Vasont stores only one copy of existing content in its repository for usage enterprise-wide. This saves organizations time because they have to update or edit the content only once, and it's automatically applied to all relevant content uses.

    Referring back to the cookbook example, a number of recipes throughout several cookbooks may require a tablespoon or some unit of butter. But if the organization decides to produce several low-fat cookbooks and wants to replace butter with margarine, it can easily make this change one time, and it will be updated in every applicable recipe within every cookbook. Additionally, an organization can easily and quickly develop and cross-media publish new and varied cookbooks on demand in multiple media formats, including print, CD-ROM, and the Web.

    Simplified Workflow
    Through a content management system's workflow application, users can easily build a process that controls the creation, review, editing, and approval of the information. The integrated workflow application provides a set of checkpoints and notifies users when a task has been or needs to be completed.

    Using the cookbook example, there can be one workflow that coordinates the creation of graphics, another workflow that manages the creation and testing of recipes, a third that allows for up-to-the-minute checking of the latest nutritional information on ingredients, and, of course, a master workflow that coordinates these subworkflows so the assembly of finished cookbook products can be coordinated.

    This workflow can be expressed in a graphical representation, which the system then interprets and implements (see Figure 5).

    Availability and Accessibility
    An organization's content can be made available enterprise-wide through a content management system. This system can make content available on a local network or over the Web.

    Organizations can specify which users are permitted to access the content, and only authorized users can manipulate the data. Additionally, because a content management system comprises a database that is continually backed up, this ensures that an organization's content will not be lost and that when documents are updated, earlier versions can be recovered.

    Similar to a cookbook, organizations comprise an assortment of "recipes" and "ingredients" that need to be categorized, continuously updated, and stored. A content management system allows organizations to take advantage of their disparate data by networking it, thus making it accessible throughout an entire enterprise. With this dynamic technology application, organizations of all sizes can optimize their content and achieve a newfound productivity.

  • More Stories By Jack Danaher

    Jack Danaher is the Director of Database Development of Progressive Information Technologies and has more than 33 years of experience in the IT database field. Jack is responsible for the ongoing development of Progressive Information Technologies’ flagship Vasont product, a powerful cross-media publishing system that enables enterprises to create, manage and publish content across numerous media channels, including print, CD-ROM, Web and wireless.

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