From the Director
In April, the CIDM held its 5th annual Content Management Strategies (CMS) conference in Washington, DC. Many of the articles included in this special content-management issue resulted from presentations at the CMS conference. In five years of holding the CMS conference, I’ve witnessed a steady increase in the number of organizations that are pursuing content-management and structured-writing possibilities. When we held the 1st annual conference, almost no one in the audience was actually using content management or working with a single-source model. Now, the percentage already working on their implementation or with a system in process is significant.
Various business surveys, including CIO Magazine, indicate that content management is one of the two fastest growing investment opportunities for our organizations. Companies are not only managing content to populate their many internal and external Web sites, but they are also using content management to handle corporate records, employee information resources, regulated and controlled documents, e-learning programs, customer-support information, proposal texts, and many more. These organizations have discovered that the information they create is not a genuine corporate asset unless it is under control. Business leaders want to ensure that security systems are in place, governing access to materials; that updates are managed through versioning, the ownership is documented and controlled; and that access is made significantly easier.
Despite all this frenetic activity around corporate information assets, technical information organizations often lag behind. Both publications and training seem reluctant to share information within and between their organizations. Practitioners are concerned about a loss of creativity and freedom of design. Structured information design and content management is often viewed more as a threat than an opportunity.
I hope that you will find the articles in this issue as evidence that the opposite is more the case. The opportunity afforded by content management includes both removing costs of the process and increasing customer satisfaction with information access and content. Use the information you find here as a starting point if you have not yet decided to take the content-management plunge. Use the information if you are in the process of decision-making and implementation. Use it even it you have a long-standing solution in place but need to expand its capabilities.
Content management is possibly the most liberating technology to enter our field since word processors. It enables us to move from a focus on the end product to a focus on the process of creating innovative and effective information resources for our customers. Like nothing else, it focuses us on the content once again.