Across different verticals, enterprises are putting a renewed effort in using XML as the prime enabler to structuring operational enterprise content. The fact that content needs to be reused and published across multiple channels including web, print, mobile, social is a strategic differentiator in today’s world. Add to this the ability to filter the content for a specific audience with the lowest level of personalization and customization — and you get what we in the content world call “A perfect combination of content and intelligence”.
We are seeing a renewed interest across various clients in structured XML content adoption. The primary components of such an initiative involve:
- Getting an enterprise wide buy-in from information architects, IT and business leadership, on the journey ahead, is important because it involves the pain staking analysis of the legacy content and deciding which part of that needs to be re-authored in XML standard, what needs to be discarded etc.
- Selecting a particular XML standard like DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) or S1000D.
- Choosing the level of maturity that needs to be enforced within the enterprise content for that particular standard. For example, DITA itself has 7 levels of maturity and with each level comes more rigor and cost of implementation. Read more on DITA maturity here (http://dita.xml.org/wiki/introduction-to-the-maturity-model)
- Next comes the difficult part of choosing a tool which allows the XML authoring and enforces a particular industry standard like DITA. There are many tools in the market which allows DITA authoring; examples include frame-maker from Adobe, xmetal or oxygen. To select the authoring tool enterprises need to drive the vendor selection process. It should also be coupled with a bigger enterprise content management strategy and vendor initiative.
- Once the tool is selected, an implementation partner is required to help with the transition of the content from the legacy form to the new form. Here, it will be broken down to lowest unit of reusability and wrapped in xml tags. This helps in later rendering of the content using various qualifiers and meta-tags to turn into multiple deliverables like print media, help files, websites and mobile.
- Enterprises should take a phase wise approach in the conversion of the content. As the ROI for such an initiative is difficult to envision in the initial phases, a POC centric approach followed by a departmental specific adoption (most often the Learning and Development Group is the one of the first adopter of such approach) should be taken.
Content structured using XML is such a powerful scenario that the labor put in is well worth it. High tech, consumer oriented enterprises were among the early adopters of DITA because they require a structured way of organizing content in collateral such as product manuals, which have sections that can be re-used across different products with multiple versions. However, more and more enterprises across verticals are realizing the need for the single sourcing of content and newer business cases are being created for other industries, including banking and financials, where phone-based agents can be served personalized reusable content specific to a particular entity like an existing relation (a company, partner or customer who may be calling). These are exciting times and the future looks promising for XML structured authoring.