Thursday, September 07, 2006

XML is not enough-Vision of a semantic web

A few decades back, three Jews were planning their future. The first said,’ I am going to settle down in London’. The second said,’ I am going to Canada’. The third took some time and said,’ I am going to Autstralia!’The first two asked,’ isn’t that far away?’ The third Jew asked back, ‘from where?’

The World Wide Web (WWW) has come a long way indeed. We used HTML to represent the information and view them via web browsers. Now we use XML to describe information more accurately by providing a ‘meaning’ to it by use of tags. However XML cannot describe relationships with respect to objects. In other words, it lacks what designers call ’ontologies’.It seems too much is never enough in the Information age. So where are we heading next after XML?

The vision is to provide a semantic grounding for the web where intelligent software agents will be able to process volumes of information found on the web. Well, software agents can be a something like persistent process/daemon, or a mobile code.OMG defines agent as “An Object that decides when to say go and when to say no”. What makes an agent truly intelligent is the fact that they can perform run-time integration via dynamic discovery and resource negotiation, which reiterates the fact that they are programs that operate at a high enough semantic level.So far software agents were used by the military, but their implications do not stop there. An agent application can be built on top of existing middleware (e.g., CORBA, EJB, and Jini) and can perform tasks like travel arrangements, meeting schedule coordination, enterprise workflow - e.g., sales, order processing, shipping, mobile computing and what not.

Let’s look at ‘Ontologies’ now. To put it simply, Ontologies are machine readable semantic specifications (might include terms, relations, and inference rules).OMG has intensively started working to extend the OMG Object Management Architecture (OMA) to better support agent technology.The World Wide Web Consortium is also active with the Semantic Web initiative which aims at the semantic grounding for the web which we were talking about.

Do we have something?

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) pulled seventeen research teams and 1 integration team consisting of experts in AI (Artificial intelligence), knowledge representation, logic and web technologies together with European Union IST Program and came out with an agent markup language which they called DARPA Agent Markup Language or DAML.

The DAML language is being developed as an extension to XML. The latest release of the language provides a rich set of constructs with which to create ontologies and to markup information so that it is machine readable and understandable. What’s new when I say “machine readable”? Even XML is machine readable. The difference here is DAML is aimed at “Resources (Like sensors, service, appliances)”, and not just web-pages. DAML have annotations linking their terms to ontologies across web pages, databases, legacy software, devices, and sensors and so on. If you tell a computer something new in DAML, it can give you new information, based entirely on the DAML standard itself. A set of DAML statements by itself (and the DAML spec) can allow us to interlink another DAML statement which is impossible with XML.Any DAML publication/manual can give you sufficient examples and cases to make understand this concept. But it does deliver what it says. (DAML is now actually supported by DARPA’s Information Exploitation Office).In short DAML has the capability to apply knowledge dynamically to find an answer rather that relying on predefined procedures. This will have extremely powerful implications in banking, finance and supply chain management domains.

Presently DAML tools range from ontology development and verification, web page annotation, distributed query processing and inference etc. DAML trial applications have been deployed in both US government and military domains. Currently an UML-Based Ontology Toolset (UBOT) is being developed by Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center.

- Ashwin Kumar N

Content Migration & Integration Methodology for Content Management System

1. Content Inventory
Compiling an inventory of existing content is the first step in determining the level of effort required to migrate content to the CMS and shed first light on content that may need to be created to support the business goals and user needs of the site

2. Content Requirements Analysis
After presenting the content inventory, site map, and content outline at the next project meeting, both the lead architect and the client should have a very good idea of the level of effort needed to acquire, repurpose or copy write new content. Also discuss the areas of the site that will benefit most from residing within the CMS.

3. Data Normalization
Now that content has been inventoried and the team has determined which areas will be content managed, the next step is to normalize the data and prepare it for migration to the CMS.

4. Identify Metadata
With all content objects identified, the next step is to define the properties of the content objects. This process entails naming each property or metadata of the content object. For example, the content object ‘News’, should have a date, title, short description, body, and author. Define all properties associated with a content object in order to establish a final description of all possible metadata that can be used to describe the piece of content. This step allows the CMS developers to customize or create new content objects for inclusion into the CMS.

5. Content Object Mappings
This step ensures that all content has been identified, normalized, and will meet the needs of content managers. Test content objects and metadata against functional specifications to determine if all content has been identified and all content that will be included within the CMS is normalized and ready to be entered.

6. Content Migration [Check-list of tasks to help mitigate migration risks]

· Consider the time required to complete the implementation.
· Focus on business outcomes and goals rather than technical issues.
· Ensure that the implementation delivers visible benefits.

Content Migration
· Conduct a content audit.
· Use the opportunity to migrate to a new site structure if appropriate.
· Check to ensure that all content has an owner.
· Consider rewriting content if necessary.
· Consider user-centered design to ensure that the site best meets users' needs.

Internal Processes
· Focus on content-management processes.
· Consider an appropriate governance model.
· Consider change management and internal communications.
· Develop a network of stakeholders.

Risk Identification and Mitigation
· Constrain initial project scope.
· Minimize custom development, where possible.
· Identify areas of greatest risk.
· Build internal capabilities and knowledge.
· Improve organizational information management.
· Plan to reassess CMS suitability.
· Learn from the experiences of other agencies.

Ongoing Development and Maintenance
· Increase content-management usage.
· Continue content redevelopment

Author: Sumesh Velayudhan

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Enterprise Content Management : What is it?

There are many different definitions on what makes up the entire field of Enterprise Content Management. The types listed below are not an exhaustive list of all the possible types of CMS, but covers the most widely accepted forms.

ð Document management provides an infrastructure for organizing and managing electronic documents, routing them, automating related tasks and distributing documents. Core functions include library services (check-in/check-out, version control and document-level security), cross-repository searching and common system administration.
ð Records management enables a company to assign a life cycle (for example, from creation through final archiving or even destruction) to individual pieces of corporate information. The information classified as records can come from many applications, including e-mail, Web pages, scanned documents, enterprise resource planning, legacy applications, fax and paper documents.

ð Document imaging, a mature technology, has evolved into two primary components: document capture and repository. Most ECM product suites focus on the repository and management services, leaving the scanning and capture aspect to best-of-breed providers such as Captiva Software and Kofax, which have each released scripts to all leading ECM repositories. Most ECM vendors partner with or formally resell either Captiva's or Kofax's capture solution as part of their product suites. Some vendors (including FileNet and Vignette), however, have their own capture modules.

ð Document-centric collaboration supports document sharing and project teams with threaded discussions concerning documents. These functions address the ad hoc, work-in-process segment of the content life cycle, in addition to the management and approval process. Some ECM vendors, however, have tried to differentiate themselves by emphasizing collaboration or knowledge management.

ð Web content management is an automated approach to implementing content management processes, controls and policies within a Web site, a Web-based application or a Web-based network. It addresses content creation, review and approval, and publishing processes for Web sites. Typically, XML and XSL in templates and style sheets make the output flexible enough to be published in multiple channels (for example, Web sites, portals, mobile devices).

ð Workflow sends documents and other forms of content along pre-defined routes for review or approval. More-robust workflow automates business processes and includes the assembly, assignment and tracking of tasks to completion. Content management products generally contain ad hoc workflow features such as routing and e-mail notification, but they may permit the integration of third-party workflow packages when firms need greater processing and control. ECM applications make vertical processes more efficient by conjoining people, processes and content to solve specific business problems.

ð E- Forms. E-forms are automated, interactive templates for the capture, processing, display and output of defined sets of business data. They are increasingly represented with Extensible Markup Language (XML) data models, such as Xforms, Extensible Form Definition Language (XFDL) or Extensible Form Architecture (XFA).E-forms are key to customer self-service, government applications (such as taxes and financial reporting) and military processing(such as reports, materiel orders and personnel requests).

ð Digital asset management (DAM), which is still a largely stand-alone application manages, stores and retrieves rich media (text, graphics and photos as well as video and audio). DAM also catalogs, retrieves and renders (or displays) this content. Today, DAM most often manages large video files in production environments, as well as large video or photo libraries. It also has some use in brand management and marketing content management.

ð E-mail archiving captures a copy of e-mail (and, optionally, instant messaging) messages, categorizes those using meta-tags and stores them outside the e-mail system. Companies initially deployed these systems to offload e-mail system data, but now they commonly use them to manage messages as records for compliance and legal discovery. Most active e-mail archiving vendors provide indexing, search and filtering (natively or via partnerships), and vendors increasingly provide adaptive learning technologies that extend categorization beyond the structured header fields and into the message body. The Archiving and Retention management capabilities of e-mail have become a core component of ECM.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Go Pagal get Viral

There are lots of examples of Organizations across the globe leveraging the power of Viral Marketing to promote their products and brands...

Its not very frequently you come across such examples in India. Here is one such innovative attempt by Go Air and the website coming together with a promotion that gives out free air tickets to winners.

What is interesting about this competition is the use of viral marketing such as asking Bloggers to answer a question and invite other bloggers to tag it as one of the competitions, similarly asking members of to introduce other members for a chance to win amongst others.
You can check out the details of competition in the website
Details of the competition - Go Pagal
Details of Competition for Bloggers - go BLOG
Details of Competition for members - go Invite & Win

This looks like one of the few companies to realize the potential of bloggers and members to promote their products to a selective community of bloggers and members.

As I mentioned in the beginning this seems to be one of the early attempts in trying to use the power of viral marketing and the success of this could spin off more such attempts in the Indian Markets.

I stumbled upon this competition in one of the blogs when I was searching for something else. But what was surprising is that I did not see any reference to it in any of popular Indian blogs or the ones I read regularly. A competition of this sort should have created enough momentum to be tagged a lot, is it because of the nature of the competition which makes its clear you are vying for something free and some stigma associated with it that people don't want to post it? Any comments welcome....

PS: There are also few other competitions which could get you a ticket, these include answering a Quiz, a photography contest and a business plan development for Go Air contest

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Any one joining the Shampoo Community...

Yes you have read it right; the first blog is on the new series of ads promoting a community for girls…Called What is so interesting about this?

This site was started by Hindustan Lever Limited (HLL). The Indian arm of Unilever has found internet and especially communities as a medium for promoting its Sunsilk brand. I was recently involved in discussion with a publishing firm which is trying to transform itself and was looking at community as a medium to bring together the varied parties and thereby enabling b2b and b2c transactions and retain its brand image and market leadership.

One of the questions on any such initiative is where is the ROI? And how do you justify the investments, not just in systems but also in building the brand around community.

Each organization has different objectives for such investments, what will be interesting to wait and watch and also speculate is the kind of returns and long-term objectives of HLL’s new initiative, especially when you can see the amount of money being spent on the new TV Ads, print Ads and Hoardings in promoting the Sunsilk online community (more than the product itself). Will it be able to garner the momentum expected out of such investments? Even more so due to the closed nature of the community itself, it seems to be targeting the young girls (“women”) of India.

Let’s wait and watch this new and innovative approach of HLL.

Will “Young Indian Girls” gang up to become the focus or will it burst like a bubble? Would you like to be called the Sunsilk Girl?

Incidentally the latest trend in advertising seems to be targeted toward the young girls “Why should boys have all the fun?” from Hero Honda