Those of you who know a bit about my background may know about the ECM epiphany I had when doing research on the history of the motion picture industry. When I learned that critics predicted a short-lived market fascination with motion pictures because they were no substitute for live theater, I realized the value of imaging lied not in its being a replacement for paper, but in its being a whole new form of content distribution that complemented paper. (This is a much abbreviated version of the story - in its long version it is really quite fascinating and eye-opening, in my opinion of course. Ask me about it sometime).
Anyway, interestingly enough, as I was contemplating my blog post on the the findings from the latest Market IQ on Content On-ramps and Off-Ramps, (see previous blog on On-ramps/capture), Hollywood provided me with another ECM metaphor, though this time not an epiphany.
According to the article, Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of Dreamworks, was recently in Boston "showing off" scenes from his company's upcoming movies. Why "showing off"? These were 3-D movies. This was not your father's 3-D which required you to wear those silly glasses so that occassionally some image would project from the screen. According to the article, "...soldiers come running up from behind you. When they pass, they kick up dust that flies off the screen ...". Katzenberg believes that 3-D will be the third greatest technology leap in motion pictures, behind the advent of sound and color. Katzenber's commentary, a short history of how technology has continued to add value to motion pictures, making them more entertaining and engaging, is really worth a read, for those that are fascinated by the motion picture sciences. And for you ECMers - maybe not worth a read, but consider the metaphor, the example Hollywood sets. Motion pictures started most humbly with the capture of analog data (live theater) in a medium that allowed for it to be captured and played back "asynchronously". The motion picture industry has continued to refine the medium, exploit its unique capabilities to provide value that will never rival live entertainment in one sense, but surpass it in others.
The potential is there for the ECM industry to make similar impacts. To grow and provide value from e-documents that we could never imagine in paper documents, not as a replacement to paper, but a complement. The aforementioned advent of workflow was a step in this direction. But, based on observations from the Market IQ survey data regarding content delivery, the ECM industry has stagnated. Technology has progressed, but the "directors", we business users of online content are moving forward at a very slow rate, using little imagination.
In my last post I provided evidence that from a capture standpoint we are moving forward. There is momentum building in viewing "content" not just as words and pictures, but also sound, video, and albeit much further in the future, smell, touch and taste. But what "special effects" are we adding to the content upon publishing? Technology from vendors such as Mark Logic and Thunderhead, who partially underwrote the research, enables organizations to virtually customize content each time it is used, evaluating the current reason for access and the person accessing it. Leveraging content "chunking" approaches such as XML, and a series of rules and processes, content can "self-assemble" to provide the highest level of personalization and effectiveness.
Nearly 2 decades ago I was consulting with a New York City commodities brokerage. We developed just such a system. Perhaps not as dramatic as some, but effective and cost saving nonetheless. This system was triggered by the data entry of a "sale". Based on the data entered (a transaction to buy a commodity at a particular point in time) a contract would be auto-generated. Not a generic contract, but a highly personalized contract, built from a variety of "chunks" of content, prices, policies, etc.
That was nearly 20 years ago. Technology has progressed tremendously since then. So imagine what you could do now? But, I am sad to report most of you aren't. Market adoption and exploitation of content delivery functionality is pitiful.
According to the survey data, nearly half, 45% are minimally or not using such techniques. Only 13% felt they were using such techniques extensively.
Q: To What Extent is Content Re-purposed.Recombined to Create New Forms (Customized or Personalized) Forms of Output?
Even more saddening is the fact that according to the survey, among those that are using such techniques, the great majority reported using simple mail-merge (you know the form letters no longer say "Dear Occupant" - but have your name so cleverly inserted instead.) YAWN.
Self authoring contracts, highly customized manuals and brochures, targeted patient records, customer profiles, web pages dynamically generated to actually deliberately communicate one-on-one with each individual ... the list goes on, the list of potential publishing alternatives that are sadly NOT being used by most. Only 3% of the organizations polled are using any form of 3-D modeling.
For more detail see the Market IQ. More importantly - DO SOMETHING. If you have an interesting content publishing/distribution application - share it here, post a comment as inspiration. Those of you who do not, experiment - have a little fun with ECM. Put some "special effects" in your content. It can be rewarding in more ways than one.