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A sampling of content management solutions

The definition of content management can vary with every solution that falls under its broad reach.

In the most sweeping sense of the term, enterprise software vendors like FileNet and Documentum offer the ability to provide access to and maintain security and version control over corporate knowledge. More narrowly defined, content management can refer to emerging technologies that range from solutions like just-in-time customer relationship information to highly creative solutions for delivering dynamic content over all platforms. This article surveys some of the vendors and technologies that comprise content management.

Filenet, for example, provides a universal repository of corporate data and documents as well as a common front end, embodied in its product Panagon. Panagon is the foundation for the company's e-content and e-process management products. FileNet defines e-content as the ability to dynamically organize and control the delivery of information--in all its diverse forms through the Web is the essence of eContent Management. The ability to interactively manage those processes in the Web environment is the essence of e-process management. The FileNet places a standard desktop interface on top of all the forms of digital knowledge in the enterprise to provide the furthest possible access throughout the enterprise to the greatest number of data sources. It includes an over-arching user environment for document management, image archive and retrieval, workflow processes and legacy systems.

esps goal is to marry disparate sources of intellectual capital into a single cross-media publication. The company says it is defining the way companies publish to the Internet/intranets, directly to paper or other industry-specified standards in a variety of formats, including HTML, PDF and TIFF.

ESPS sells CoreDossier, a software product for creating NDA submissions to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. The sources of information range from hard-data reports to the contents of imaging and document management systems. All of the sources are managed and controlled in their corresponding data points, and available for output in paper and PDF to aid the regulatory process.

What's black and white and read all over? Consider the content management problem from the perspective of the people who publish huge amounts of data in daily newspapers. Every day they produce hundreds of thousands of words and data, organized it, complete with black-and-white and color art--all for less than a dollar a copy. They know their readers expect fast and easy access to lots of information.

That type of content management brings to mind Excalibur, a company whose technology is designed to meet the expectations of those readers for accurate and relevant retrieval over highly scalable databases of text. The Chicago Tribune recently joined the the ranks of content providers that employ Excalibur RetrievalWare to give users the quick, accurate access to the facts they seek.

A printing press in every house When content management is defined from the perspective of the engineering and documentation departments, Documentum comes to mind as a repository for and provider of enterprise documents. The company gives users the equivalent of a printing press in every house--sophisticated document publishing features and reliable verification technology. For securing and managing documents through version control and certification, Documentum is almost universally implemented in the pharmaceutical/chemical market segments.

Documentum's 4i Web Content Management (WCM) Edition is a package of products and services that integrate with commerce and personalization technologies. It's designed to contain everything needed to simplify, streamline and accelerate the production and delivery of Web content. The company maintains that 4i WCM Edition shortens time-to-Web by enabling companies to shift the burden of content production from the technical team charged with building, maintaining and deploying the site to the business owners of the content.

iManage provides a content collaboration environment to fulfill what it describes as the original goal of the Internet: the ability of people in widely distributed locations to work together smoothly and efficiently. To achieve that goal, it has integrated its applications to work with most popular e-mail and browser software. The collaboration process is automated through linking and publishing services for intranet and Internet distribution by saving to iManage folders.

ebusiness Technologies offers engenda, an enterprise product that uses transparent XML conversion techniques to provide distributed access to content throughout the corporation. The product features security for check-in, check-out and file modification controls, a browser-based user interface and the ability to input documents through e-mail or plain browser interactions. Developer tools and API interfaces are available to create customized workflows within engenda. Forms-based authoring tools and templates provide ease-of-use features and rapid deployment capability.

Ektron ektron.com) offers a collaborative environment for document creation and control with eMPower and eWebEditPro. At $2,999 for the content management components and $299 for 10-user blocks of author/editor seats, the software provides a user-friendly interface and scalable back-end solution at a competitive price. The combined offerings enable users across many departments to contribute content, while providing centralized control for appearance and functionality across the site

Xyvision provides content and document management solutions to streamline the information creation and delivery process. The company furnishes the end-to-end XML production systems that everyone else is talking about. Those solutions allow simultaneous creation of Web-based manuals and training systems along with conventional output via Postscript and PDF. In addition to dynamic presentation and customization features, they automatically generate indexes, tables of contents and glossaries.

Element K is a 500-person technical publisher based in Rochester, NY, that uses XyEnterprise's XML Professional Publisher (XPP) to generate technical manuals and training packages, and has recently issued its 250th title using the technology. The high-speed XML systems produce a unified look and feel across all titles for each customer.

Requisite Technology provides an e-catalog solution that is designed to be universal and to provide ease of use, accuracy, scalability and user-oriented finding capabilities to enhance customer satisfaction. Its Electronic Catalog XML (eCX) Specification details the use of XML for catalog interoperability and could be of interest to people considering XML for e-commerce applications.

Gauss Interprise, a German company, offers a suite of content management products built on its Java-based Versatile Internet Platform. VIP Content Manager offers XML-ready solutions that accommodate open standards in data and document formats. Other tools include VIP Intelligent Templates and Forms and VIP XML Gateway. VIP Content Miner employs intelligent semantic search technology for flexible information retrieval across the enterprise. A single environment meets the needs of Internet, intranet and extranet applications.

Openpages helps organizations create, manage, edit, deploy and archive content in print, Web or wireless media. The company's ContentWare software uses a single system to create content, supervise the workflow of the approval process and deploy the information. The content is tagged with crucial metadata allowing it to be deployed to multiple channels such as Web, print, wireless, syndication or e-mail without undergoing time-consuming reformatting.

From the vantage point of operations and IT people,Sendmail addresses CM where the rubber meets the road--where outside content touches the enterprise, providing security and control for gateways and mail servers. The company delivers the ubiquitous Internet mail platform for e-communications, applications and services.

Sendmail Switch 2.1 provides an open architecture for plug-ins as a means of adding new functionality. Some Sendmail plug-in providers are: Trend MicroTrend Microk, which offers virus and malicious code protection;Brightmail, which provides spam-killing mail walls;activestate, which furnishes programmer tools for PERL and Python to enable rapid customization of e-commerce processing over the Web.

When you consider content management from the perspective of Internet engineers who have to actually make it work with current IT, the iplanet Internet Service Deployment Platform might come to mind. A Sun/Netscape alliance, iPlanet offers an environment for deploying Internet offerings, including e-business, CRM and new Web-based models. The scalable software infrastructure sits on top of current networks, infrastructures and operating systems. It provides the means to enable portal, Web applications, communications and unified user management dervices using standardized tools and open architectures.

deepbridge is an Internet services company that applies content management to the process of creating, protecting and growing customer capital. A 1999 start-up with $50 million in initial funding, the company's technology allows companies to exploit their corporate content to enhance customer experiences in e-commerce applications. By drawing on the information residing throughout the enterprise, DeepBridge brings all assets to bear on personalizing each customer touch.

Emerging Technology Solutions is an e-business consultancy offering a number of in-the-box solutions to enable e-commerce. Those offerings include business, customer service, decision survey, human resources and help desk. All of the packages are based on Lotus Domino, and ETS has been a Lotus Beacon Award winner for three years in a row.

Eprise provides strategic content management to facilitate the development of Internet business applications. In approaching the many and varied challenges of developing Web sites for commerce and customer relationship applications, company founders identified content management as the key component across all of those endeavors.

According to Forrester Research, most business sites fail "basic tests of value, ease of use and reliability. Major problems include missing content, meager function, and frequent errors--weaknesses that thwart users as they pursue typical goals." Eprise Release 3 Participant Server products are designed to address that weakness and allow realization of the undeniable potential of Web commerce.

Tony McKinley is director of sales at Captiva Software (www.captivasoftware.com), 610-647-5570, e-mail tmckinley@captivasoftware.com.

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