Friday, November 28, 2003

EMC/Documentum Marriage Raises Skepticism of ECM Crowd
A recent Transform Magazine article amplifies industry skepticism that has been raised regarding EMC's recent acquisition of Documentum, but ultimately concludes that its concept of Information Lifecycle Management is not a bad idea. In ILM, content may be stored at different levels of accessibility depending on its use - deep online storage if it's not being changed or in change-management oriented storage in a system like Documentum if it's an active item. No, this is not Enterprise Content Management the way that folks selling huge output-oriented content systems would have it, but it captures a key factor in the changing face of managing content assets. With capabilities such as EMC's "Content-Addressable Storage" and the more open Digital Object Identifier (DOI) scheme becoming more prevalent, the "where" of content becomes even more abstract than the paragdigms of the Web have provided. The "hows" of content access provided by ECM vendors remain important, but with search technology bridging much of the access to content on an on-demand basis and Web services responding to individual needs for functionality , the importance of permanent portals in providing content is not as central to the long-term success of many content systems as it may have otherwise been. Expect a new generation of disruptive technology to challenge large ECM players' assumptions about how content can be best provided to audiences cost-effectively and flexibly as the Web services era unfolds.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

The Google Chronicles: Will Chaos Overtake the Search Champion?
In the wake of Fortune's article on the world inside Google and The Register's subsequent spin of the article, it's starting to be a question as to whether the current champion of content search will be already beyond its peak by the time it gets around to its IPO next year - just in time for its portal rivals to be introducing more powerful search technology into their product offerings. Google has assembled a brilliant team of fresh-from-school technologists to assemble its capabilities more quickly and efficiently than any of its rivals, but in doing so the human lessons of creating content for service-oriented audiences that are learned the hard way in the "real world" of business are going neglected in many key areas. While user-friendly features on top of mediocre search results are not likely to pose a major threat to Google's dominance, the team in Mountain View should think a little more carefully about how to personalize their content culture and bring service dominance in line with their technical dominance - before more service-savvy competitors figure out the technology side of the business.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Study Shows 13 Percent of Online Citations for Scientific Articles Disappearing
Being able to use the Internet for professional research has been hampered since its inception by the inability of publishers to provide enduring citation references to content stored there. This problem was highlighted in a recent study by team from the University of Colorado published in Science magazine and highlighted at CBS MarketWatch [REGISTRATION]. Over a 27-month period, up to 13 percent of citations for articles in three major journals took a holiday. The OpenURL standards in circulation since May offer some hope that there may yet be a universal solution to this problem, but in the meantime Digital Object Identifier (DOI) System is gaining significant headway in its registration of content objects used in scientific, library and professional publishing circles. While DOI lacks some of the contextual, user-centric finesse of OpenURLs, the ability of DOIs to address the fundamental quandary of providing consistent content addressing capabilities will hopefully provide a way for content providers of all kinds to maintain consistent historical access to many forms of highly valued content. Once content is consistently addressable and in a standard format, though, it places yet more pressure on aggregators to define the value of their services to institutions that are increasingly aware of the power of their organizations to collect and manage content access and distribution on their own.
Navio Recognized for Leadership in Customer-Activated Content Sales
DRM faced another setback as CNET News reports on a hacker who has posted a workaround to Apple's iTunes copy protection scheme, yet again begging the question: why use technology to prevent your customers from helping you to distribute your content? Navio has been trying to answer that very question with its content distribution management service that emphasizes empowering affiliates and individuals to act as redistribution agents for premium content under a wide variety of commerce models. Navio can be used with or without DRM-enabled content control schemes, emphasizing instead the enabling and tracking of the distribution process to the satisfaction of content originators. It's still very early days for this concept, but it is good enough that they have announced receiving an award at the latest Consect Mobile Music Conference. Primary distributors of all kinds of premium content will continue to focus on maintaining control of content through "lockdown" schemes, but it's worth considering how capabilities like Navio may be pointing the way to distribution schemes that more closely conform to the way that people really want to extract value from the content that they purchase.

Friday, November 21, 2003

As Chinese Internet Market Enjoys its Dot-Com Boom, First-Gen Boomers Apply Lessons
Now that the world's largest country is getting serious about Internet content, the Web is doing for China what fifty years of Cold War could not do: open up a formerly closed society to free speech. As noted by the AP, the Chinese government is fighting a losing battle against keeping out dissident voices, even as it manages to set standards for Web site address quality control that could benefit the growth of the industry in the long run, according to Reuters. Yahoo! is very much in the fray in China, recently eyeing the purchase of an Chinese language Internet address firm, according to ZDNet, while it builds the popularity of its own offerings via Internet cafes in major cities in China. Love of freedom may drive use of the Internet by individuals, but its commerce at the heart of China's efforts to build both consumer markets and professional markets that demand state-of-the-art content and communications capabilities. While many native Chinese companies are thriving in this environment, there are plenty of lessons from the first wave of the Web companies such as Yahoo! that can be applied quickly and effectively to this market. How long before the Chinese begin to turn their second-generation lessons into more of a worldwide presence? Brush up on your Mandarin, we'll see where this all leads in the next few years.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Reuters' Grigson Corrects Erroneous Dow Jones Report, Talks Up 3000 Xtra, Knowledge
[From Shore Senior Analyst Jack McConville]: Dow Jones Newswires mistakenly reported that Reuters chief financial officer, David Grigson, forecast a 2004 revenue decline of seven percent to nine percent for the market data vendor. He was referring to a longstanding forecast for this year, not next. His remarks were made at a Morgan Stanley investor conference in Barcelona today. Reuters will issue a 2004 revenue forecast in January and will have more to say when 2003 results are made public on February 17. Grigson had a lot to say about a new hosted version of Reuters flagship 3000 Xtra application that will eliminate the need for Reuters hardware and software on a user�s site, will reduce bandwidth needs and will work on legacy PC�s. The ultimate objective is to lower the user�s total cost of ownership, a problem that has plagued the vendor for the past several years. Reuters Knowledge is another new product that has been hyped to investors for most of this year. It�s a browser-based service aimed at investment bankers and research analysts and is currently being tested at 2,000 customer sites.
Factiva-Verity Agreement: A Conversation with Greg Gerdy
On October 28th Factiva and Verity announced an agreement whereby Factiva�s content, taxonomies and taxonomy expertise are to be marketed to users of Verity's intellectual capital management solution, K2 Enterprise. Last Friday I talked with Greg Gerdy, Factiva�s VP of Channel Marketing, about the partnership. The agreement fits squarely with Factiva�s strategy of partnering with technology companies that will enable it to integrate its business information with enterprise workflow. Factiva already works with platform providers of the caliber of IBM and Microsoft, portal companies like Plumtree, and application providers to vertical markets like MediaMap and Alacra. As Factiva finds itself moving away from pure content sales, contacts with customers� IT groups become increasingly important. A big plus to the agreement is Verity�s established connections in this part of the enterprise. But how will the agreement affect Factiva Fusion, Factiva�s own �intellectual capital management� solution? Grass roots co-operation is apparently budding between the Factiva and Verity sales groups, where some live opportunities are already in play. For now, the K2 Enterprise or Factiva Fusion question is being resolved at this level on a case-by-case basis. Under the agreement, Factiva�s content, general and pharmaceutical taxonomies, and the services of Factiva Client Solutions will be offered to K2 Enterprise customers. Gerdy also expects that Factiva sales people will actively search out opportunities for Verity and Factiva to work together, with packaging of Factiva and Verity products a possibility at a later date. LexisNexis taxonomies and �concept definitions�, of course, are also promoted by Verity. That agreement, says LexisNexis, remains unchanged.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Interwoven Content Management Networks Empowering Institutional Content Publishing
As mentioned in our earlier news analysis, publishing companies are largely still in the starting gate when it comes to the enabling of Web services for distributing their content. In the meantime, content technology companies are enabling institutions to press forward on this front to expand their internal and external content distribution capabilities. With Interwoven's recent announcement of their new Content Management Networks capabilities, the concept of content as both information and experience whose value is best controlled by those closest to their audiences takes a significant step forward. Instead of just modifying information stored in a central database whose display is managed centrally, people in local business units will have the ability to tailor both the information and the functionality to very specific user needs in a highly modular fashion. This autonomy allows departments and other grass-roots units to have much of the freedom offered by independent Web sites while maintaining consistency of contol, storage and deployment. Publishers will need to understand better how to play well in this highly modular content creation and distribution environment to provide effective distribution more quickly than they may imagine.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Copyright Clearance Center Extends Licensing Services to Library/Higher Education Vendors
While software and systems vendors wrestle with how to lock down content and software with digital rights functionality, Copyright Clearance Center uses the most powerful force in the world to enforce the rights of copyrighted materials distributors: the human mind. Its redistribution licensing capabilities are enforced at the institutional level, but through its evolving online services CCC provides individual users the ability to comply with - and pay for - the rights to redistribute and reprint copyrighted materials on a voluntary basis when fair use policies don't fit the circumstances. The latest moves by CCC noted in EContent Magazine provide Ex Libris and XanEdu the ability to offer their users relicensing of content via academic courseware and online library services. This should be very fruitful for CCC in both the long run and the short run. In the short run they've managed to target course materials that are high-ticket items with a strong potential for redistribution at a premium, while in the long run they're getting a new generation of users used to the idea of complying with copyright requirements voluntarily in an easy-to-use manner. Making money in content technologies is as much about cultivating profitable habits in users as it is in creating profitable content.
Is Ford�s Move to Eliminate Individual Magazine Subscriptions at Work a Bellwether Event?
Ford Motor Company is planning to save millions of dollars by ordering employees to cancel all paid-magazine and newspaper subscriptions (exempting only the public affairs staff). I decided to weigh in on this story with only the facts from the B2B Online story, since it raises many critical issues that publishers face in selling to institutional clients. I�ll gather more facts and report again when the reasons for Ford�s extreme action become more clear. It�s surprising to me that there hasn�t been more noise from publishing pundits in response to this announcement.

Here are some of the questions the news of this action raises for me:

Is it an indication that senior management will forcefully steer employees to information services delivered to the desktop and away from what management may view as redundant business news in print publications? And, is the reason because the company wants to justify the money that has been invested in systems to deliver the desktop information services and the associated content? Or, does it reflect a view from management that the information in most of the magazines can be found for less money (or free) on the Web?

Cost savings is clearly part of the rationale for ordering the cancellation of the subscriptions. But, does management have a handle on the value of information delivered via the magazines versus other media? Or, does management calculate the value of the information in the magazines to be too low no matter what the delivery medium?

If the trade-off is between print and online subscriptions via an aggregated news service such as those offered by ProQuest or NewsEdge, does management understand what is left out of the online versions of many online magazines and journals (namely ads and some articles for which publisher doesn�t hold the copyright)? Furthermore, do the online subscriptions provide equivalent value, considering the pricing models used for enterprise sales of aggregated news services, which are usually based on number of employees that have access? Basically, could management be providing a more expensive, less valuable alternative to its employees, since most of the hundreds or thousands of publications aggregated into the major collections offered online are read by relatively few employees on a regular basis? And, will employees overlook important information that isn�t compiled and packaged in the portable and browsable print format?

Heck, if the majority of the publications are general interest and entertainment magazines, I side with the CFO. He�s just eliminating a non-business related perk. But, I think there�s more to this story and that vendors that sell news and general business information in print or digital form to institutions should watch the fallout from this event carefully.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Google (Non) Service: Is This Any Way to Run a Content Technology Company?
We've been making good use of Google's AdWords service as part of our "eating our own dog food" for using contexutal ad services to promote premium content. However, In the past week, the links to the Web pages used to maintain this service seemed to have conked out for us. Resetting routers, etc., didn't seem to help, so I decided to drop them a note on this issue. Like many portal services the links for contacting support are pretty well buried (no phone support, of course), but eventually I was able to find a link to "help@google.com" that seemed to be an appropriate bucket into which to place our request. The email reply autobot got back to us right way and let me know that they "try to send personal responses to each message." Well, 48 hours later, and they haven't tried thus far. Hopefully this is just some weird little anomaly that will make us sheepishly aware of our human limitations, but in the meantime it makes one wonder just how ready Google is for real prime-time operations as a services-oriented company. The concept of "Beta" services as revenue generating capabilities breaks down when customer service is left out of the revenue loop. Technology-oriented companies, even "friendly" ones like Google, tend to skip lightly over many of the human-oriented support issues that make up an important part of the value of an information experience.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Tech Market Reaching Bottom, but Content is Leading the Growth
ZDNet reports on recent research that indicates the tech sector has bottomed out at last, and that it can "enjoy" strong single-digit growth over the next couple of years, even as half of the existing tech vendors are expected to disappear, presumably through acquisition or attrition. The era of business plans based on corporations buying an endless stream of $250,000 ROI-enhancing software tools is certainly gone, due in large part to instituions purchasing these tools becoming not only more cost-sensitive but also more aware that it doesn't take huge amounts of IT investment to be a reasonably effective publisher of content, thanks to standards and increasingly open computing options. At the same time to become a very effective institutional publisher requires far more infrastructure integration from storage to Web interface than ever before, leaving purveyors of piecemeal solutions struggling for a place at the table. The tech industry has been coasting for several years on largely modest incremental improvements to fundamental technology, while the content industry has been shaken from top to bottom with radical changes that have required much fundamental restructuring. With firms like Thomson reporting more than 20 percent gains in common stock earnings over last year, expect the winners over the next two years to be those companies which know best how to marry content, technology and human requirements - while pure tech companies go back to the drawing boards to define true technology breakthroughs.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

eBooks Come to Smartphones with Overdrive Offering
Book reading convenience moved a major step forward as leading ebook vendor, Overdrive, announced support for the Mobipocket format for their ebook titles. While the Palm reader dominates the PDA market, with Adobe and Microsoft competing for the PC platform, Mobipocket is the leader for smartphones. Their software offers cross platform compatibility not just for phones, but also PDAs and PC's. This is a significant advantage in the world of rapidly changing technical gadgets, especially the new generations of multi-function phones growing in popularity, particularly among trendy younger buyers. Look for science fiction to become a best seller in this group!

The cross platform capability is also advantageous to libraries building a lending collection, since any purchased ebooks will be widely compatible with patron devices, a moving target. Overdrive continues to build a leadership position in this market, as well as supplying the retail market. See related report The eBooks Marketplace: A New Evaluation

Monday, November 10, 2003

SAVVIS, Akamai Announcements Highlight Content as the Centerpiece of Managed Network Services
When you have tons of bandwidth and storage but a dearth of people planning to use it, what's the best thing to do? Fill it with content, according to two high-powered networking companies aiming to add a new level of value to their technology services. SAVVIS aims to target the media services market with an encompassing range of media creation, digital asset management, and content distribution delivered as a "Managed Utility Service", according to their announcement. Meanwhile Akamai, which springs from media services, says in its announcement that it is targeting content and applications distribution and management at the enterprise level via the Internet. Managed network services are an interesting and increasingly important example of the melding of content and related technologies to introduce new levels of content services enhanced by both the network and the environment into which a network connects. While not playing the role of aggregators in the strictest sense, managed network services are nevertheless providing common access to both content and technology services that facilitate the use of content in specific work settings. Yesterday's "big pipe" has become today's "big network", blending access, functionality and content in a sophisticated, cost-effective array of services.

Friday, November 7, 2003

Internet Librarian Conference 2003: Quick Takes
November 3-5, Internet Librarian 2003 came back to the superb setting of Monterey, California . As usual, the conference provides an interesting mix of technology and content, this year without the presence of the traditional large aggregators. The exhibit floor had many of the traditional services, including the few remaining subscription services. Some quick comments:

- A major theme in the sessions was incorporating the new generation of software tools into the workflow of the librarian and their clients/patrons, with emphasis on improving productivity and providing additional services, not technology per se. Using search engines effectively was a perennial topic, but consolidation was the news. MSN is hiring top search engine talent, so stay tuned for more mergers and acquisitions.

- Emergence of librarians as digital publishers was a theme throughout sessions. Elizabeth Lane Lawley, Rochester Institute of Technology, bridged the technology and content worlds, with lively presentations of �born digital publishing� illustrating her coursework, grant application, and professional blogs. Marcia Olstead, a librarian disguised as a senior product planner at Microsoft (the 3rd largest website in the world), described the positive impact of developing document standards and providing XML based authoring tools to over 100 groups who needed to publish marketing, documentation, and support materials in multiple formats. Catherine Candee of the California Digital Libraries, provided insight into the complexities involved in operating in depth academic publishing initiative, with multiple authoring groups. An extension of that role is then working with the UC Press to actual production of scholarly monographs, both in print and electronically.

- Attendees filled the room for the panel on �e-books: The Third Generation�, organized by Don Hawkins, Information Today. Cindy Hill, Sun Microsystems, described using user surveys to obtain funding for ebooks for the engineering groups, then getting rave reviews on the completed projects. Dennis Dillon detailed University of Texas usage statistics developed over six years, which showed significantly lower costs in utilizing ebooks over print books. Both organizations utilize the "one book, one user" model of NetLibrary.

- Meanwhile, the next generation of ebook providers were on the exhibit floor, with Christopher Warnock describing the eBrary implementation at Stanford University. Both eBrary and Knovel have significant added value of context searchability across multiple books and digital content, with pricing based on users, not volumes, an attractive service model for libraries. And for all these customers and providers, the biggest hurdle is getting the titles they want in electronic form!

- XML has become the standard format, supported by the new generation of library tools and software. The very popular sessions on blogs (aka weblogs) were indicative of the growth of this flavor of author friendly XML tools. Web design sessions are a standard topic at the conference, but now with an emphasis on improving the user experience.

- Fund raising is not a topic usually associated with being an internet librarian, but an evocative evening session on funding dilemmas for public libraries was quite apropos, given the budget crises in California and other large states. The challenge is that about 90% of funding for public libraries comes from tax monies. Funding from multiple sources is a superior model, and has been accomplished by National Public Radio. In my backyard, the new Martin Luther King Library in San Jose has been a smashing success in combining a public library with a university library to improve services for both constituencies�and opportunities to appeal to both for contributions. Kudos to Rebecca Jones, of Dysart & Jones Associates, for focusing on the bigger picture of ensuring that money is available to purchase the technology and fund the librarians.

Thursday, November 6, 2003

Will Success Spoil the Search Engine Marketing Party?
At this week�s Ad:Tech conference in NY, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) was a hot topic. According to MediaPost Communications, there were at least 11 panel discussions devoted to SEM. At an estimated $1.4 � 1.6 billion in ad revenue in 2003 and growing by leaps and bounds, SEM is deserving of the attention it has been getting from the media, especially due to the success of Overture�s and Google�s search engine ad networks and contextual ad placement programs.

But, as big name advertisers increasingly get involved in a territory that was formerly dominated by Web content managers and publishers, how will the expanding supply of paid listings affect the costs of SEM? And beyond ad cost, how will the popularity of SEM affect the quality of the search experience for the user? The providers of the ad networks that place paid listings and contextual ads will have to refine their processes for accepting and posting paid listings to ensure relevancy for the users. With contextual ad placements, the challenges are even greater since there are three parties to please: the advertiser, the user of the Web site who sees the ad, plus the publisher of the site where the ad is placed. To be most effective, the ad content needs to be relevant to the user who is viewing the content on that Web page and it needs to be acceptable to the publisher of the Web site. Clearly, there is lots of room for innovation in the �contextual ad� space and the increasing dollars being spent on online advertising by the major players in advertising will help encourage further investment in technology and applications, which should benefit Web publishers and information seekers alike.

Wednesday, November 5, 2003

Comtex Tightens Relationship at Wholesale Level with Integrator Pinnacor
Comtex News Network has announced that they are expanding their relationship with content integrator Pinnacor to further its wholesale business of providing streaming news feeds to institutions in finance and other sectors. The news feed aggregator business has fallen on hard times in many ways, along with other content aggregators that do not offer significant integration capabilities. While it's too early to make the call for a buyout of Comtex by Pinnacor, they are caught between the pressures of news search engines on the open Web and the need to rely on B2B integrators to position its content in institutional portals that no longer try to emulate the "dot com" look and instead focus on business process integration. Wholesaling content will have its place, but without a strategy to provide a wider range of value-add services and its sources becoming ever more adept at XML-based normalization of their services, Comtex, like many aggregators, faces the uncomfortable prospect of becoming little more than a subscription agent for a range of content services that's likely to decrease over time. Unless Comtex and similar companies can provide more value-add services to their content suppliers, they will probably be better off merging with those that can provide better services to their content consumers.
Dow Jones Counting Web Noses Along with Print Subscribers to Boost WSJ Circulation Numbers
The Wall Street Journal [PREMIUM] reports on a 16 percent rise in its paid subscription circulation - based on the inclusion of paid online subscriptions with its print base. With average weekday circulation of the WSJ flat at 1,800,650, the 400,000 online-only subscribers (counted as about 290,000 for paid circulation purposes) represents a significant increase, and brings the Journal within spitting distance of USA today's leading circulation. While advertisers are a little uncertain about what this means to them on an apples-to-apples basis when comparing online to print populations, it's a clear indication that online sales are going to lead the news industry out of its perceived slump. The Journal's willingness to accept the necessity of taking online sales seriously early on has certainly yielded them major benefits. Those publishers that lag in creating effective monetization strategies for their online publications will certainly suffer the most, yet it's far from clear the the WSJ's transferral of its general subscription model at a lower rate to Web-delivered content is going to work for other less-prestigious publications - or for the Journal itself in the long run. Building online content value through a widely engaged community will require new techniques for monetization barely explored by most online publishers.

Monday, November 3, 2003

Alacritude Takes the FAST Track to Power eLibrary and Encyclopedia.com Searches
Online premium research and reference provider Alacritude has chosen to power its online searches using the FAST Data Search platform for both its eLibrary and Encyclopedia.com properties, according to FAST. The FAST technology is well suited to Alacritude's needs, which span professional, academics and consumers looking for a reasonably priced alternative for access to a broad range of premium content. FAST plays a strong second fiddle to Google and others on the public Web, but in institutional settings where more finely tuned searching and indexing is required to meet the needs of professionals trying to locate premium content and to track its usage effectively, FAST is a smart step to take to get more of a thoughful, premium feel to search results. For highly structured content such as the journals and papers in eLibrary's collection, this is a good move, just as Google and other engines more focused on unstructured content have their own strengths. A properly matched search engine is essential to online success, but it cannot replace the need for content that's worth the price of admiission. Finding what you're looking for has to assume that your needle is actually in the haystack - which is why so many people still prefer the open Web for finding facts to higher quality but more limited subscriptions sources. Hopefully more services will combine the strengths of the open Web and premium content not just for technology, but for content, as well.