Building content-enabled applications

Both Pie and Marko have blogged about content-enabled applications, or what Gartner calls CEVAs (content-enabled vertical applications).

As it so happens, I’ll be presenting there will be a session on this subject next month at EMC World 2009.

Based on my research of what folks label a content-enabled application, two things rise to the top: process (surrounding content) and subject matter expertise (individual or group surrounding process), and context. OK, three things.

For example, Forrester defines content-centric applications as “solutions that put the business’ content to use, and add context along the way–to support line-of-business needs.” Example solutions include customer self-service, claims processing, proposal management, contract management, and case management.

Other CEVA vendors argue that content-enabled applications are process-oriented, not content-centric. I tend to prefer this viewpoint. A claim is valueless in itself. Only once is claim is processed is value realized, including taking a future liability off the books.

Content-enabled applications should facilitate the convergence of content, collaboration, interaction, and process.

Before you leverage your content in an application to generate value, ask yourself few questions:

  • Who uses the content? Why? How?
  • What processes does the content support?
  • If I’m not a subject matter expert for this type of content, who can I involve to design a better application experience?
  • What processes does it support?
  • What context is involved, either centrally or peripherally?

Start with something familiar to just about anyone these days: email (or IM, micro-blogging, etc.). Answer the questions. See how applications, for example, around email have evolved. Think about where current email applications may have untapped potential. Etc.

So, where have all the CEVAs gone (as Marko asks)?

  • I think that we in the content management business do ourselves a disservice by overly complicating concepts (e.g. behind TLAs or FLAs). Although fine as a conceptual catalyst, CEVA is self-defeating, IMHO, as a rallying label.
  • I agree that CMIS has great potential to increase the availability of content-enabled applications, if for no other reason, because application development that consumes the proposed standard should have a greater return on investment by being applicable to multiple content repositories. (ECM vendor partners are you listening?)
  • In the end, it’s the application, not the content or the process or the people. That is, if you’re just adding a document and perhaps a workflow to some code, you may have an app…but it won’t be used. Focus on user experience (i.e. the meaningful, intuitive presentation of content, context and process together).

Back to EMC World…          Orlando, FL - May17-21

I’ll miss interacting with ‘Zilla at the conference. It was at EMC World in 2007 (also held in Orlando, FL) that I first met Mark in person.

If you are able to make the conference and consider yourself to be a “2.0 type,” you may be interested in Len’s advert. Looks like there is even a LinkedIn event established for the conference.

I plan to tweet the conference and otherwise engage with the community. In the meantime, if you plan to attend my session (as presented by others), please feel free to comment (here or ECN) on your thoughts about content-enabled applications and what you’d like discussed or demoed. Thanks in advance.

-Craig
http://craigrandall.net/
@craigsmusings