Content Reusability

The concept of reusability has become hot thanks to the service-oriented architecture SOA-. The promise of SOA is that you build once, use often an application created in one silo of the department can be used everywhere else.

While this idea has really taken off in IT and has won increasing mindshare from business as well, it has not yet impacted how businesses look at content. The philosopher Daniel Dennett speaks of universal acid, which is simply a concept that cuts across all kinds of pre-existing boundaries. I think reusability is a universal acid. It s a concept that, once embraced in a particular arena like IT architecture-, will rapidly burn through boundaries and find itself in use everywhere throughout the enterprise. Enterprises now have plenty of employees who are dedicated to thinking about, and implementing, their IT infrastructure. But what about the content infrastructure? Why is it assumed that IT infrastructure is a discipline while content infrastructure is better left up to the ad hoc efforts of employees who are not steeped in it? I m going to offer a very simple example of what I think will happen when the concept of reusability becomes embedded in the enterprise approach to content. I d like you to extrapolate from this example and think about all the other possible applications. A Reusable Document Library Most companies can find out, at least roughly, how many major systems and applications are part of your IT infrastructure. But what about content? Can you tell how many different kinds of business documents are in use by your company? Here, I m not talking about rigidly standardized templates like electronic document interchange EDI- or legal forms. I m talking about documents like AR/AP correspondence, newsletter copy, proposals - the spine of your ordinary, everyday business content. My guess is that, when companies create, modify, or distribute this kind of content, they do so on an ad hoc basis. Maybe there s a basic template somewhere in Word that gets modified. Maybe there s not even that and someone has to create a document from scratch. Maybe there are multiple document owners who use different template versions. Here s an idea. Replace this unwieldy process with a basic document library. You can create one on MediaWiki. Just input your most common business documents. This is simply a copy-and-paste job. Use this opportunity to find the best examples of content within the enterprise. If you like the format of a particular piece of correspondence written by a customer service manager, make it the template for all such future correspondence. Once you move this content to MediaWiki, assign editing privileges to higher-level employees who can modify the text based on changing business conditions. Throw the talk section open to employees who want to argue for or against existing versions of the documents. And that s it. You ve got a basic document library with version tracking and protection, hierarchical privileges, and even open back-end discussion. You ve got the foundation for future content reuse. No more creating documents from scratch or tortuous editing. I have to admit, my perspective on this is not that of the manager but that of the ordinary worker. I ve worked and temped in many companies and my experience has always been that, when someone wants to create certain forms of business documents, it has to be done from scratch, or else multiple people have to collaborate over it, typically by e-mail. Wikis would make this so much easier. You can pull a company-approved template right out of MediaWiki, copy-and-paste it into an e-mail or letter, and send it off. Or, if the template is open to editing, you can create a document and have it modified and approved by someone at another station. It s not even an enterprise expense, like enterprise content management ECM- would be MediaWiki costs pennies a month. Give it a shot. Source: www.portalsmag.coma>