Getting in the Flow

 
 
By Brian Fonseca  |  Posted 2004-11-01
 
 
 
Mushrooming levels of data being created by disconnected enterprise and Web content sources is pressuring customers to more effectively wrap their arms around content-centric applications while improving productivity.

Ektron Inc., Percussion Software Inc. and CrownPeak Technology Inc. are building new software tools designed to bolster content management workflow processes, track accountability of assigned tasks and reduce complexity of managing content going unchecked among separate business units of an IT environment.

"Each section of the business has their own content management [practice]; they all know theyve been storing documents and come up with [their] own proprietary solutions to handle their needs. Then a browser-based need arises, and the realization dawns that no one knows how to get those documents or whats being created," said Cindy Gaffney, Web specialist at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana, in Helena. "No one can really keep track of who has what at any given point. Theres no centralized control."

Ektron this week will unveil a workflow suite designed to automate the collection, management and approval of Web content. The suite works in conjunction with Ektrons CMS300.Net offering and will be part of its CMS400.Net upgrade due at the end of the month.

The software allows automated content process controls to monitor task assignment, privileges, progress and completion, said William Rogers, president and CEO of Ektron, of Amherst, N.H. Rogers likened his new software to a FedEx Corp. tracking system, determining if the individual ever started the task and whether the task is waiting for data; if it is on hold; if it has moved on to a pending process; whether it was rejected; if it got rejected and, if so, why; and reopening the task, if necessary.

Gaffney, an Ektron customer, said she hopes to install the workflow suite before the end of the year. She said the product should enable the company to tie together and automate various content policies and project management across the organization.

In addition, the Ektron workflow suite features enhanced international language support. Ektrons CMS300 and CMS400 run on Microsoft Corp.s Windows Server 2003 and .Net platforms.

Tailored for companies looking to mix enterprise and Web content, Percussion last week announced its updated Rhythmyx 5.5 offering, with pricing starting at $95,000. The platform focuses on controlling unstructured content by featuring Document Management module enhancements via a Text Extractor that "reuses" content trapped in various binary file types, as well as new semantic search capabilities, said Percussion officials in Woburn, Mass.

To read an eWEEK Labs review of Percussions Rhythmyx 5, click here.

The softwares Digital Asset Management module offers a new In-Line Image Editor, plus new WebDAV (Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning) support to simplify content drag and drop from familiar desktop tools such as Adobe Systems Inc.s Photoshop; Macromedia Inc.s Dreamweaver; and Microsofts Word, Excel and PowerPoint, to name a few. In addition, Collaboration enhancements allow users to collaborate on Rhythmyx-managed content from portals, e-mail and other applications.

Rhythmyx 5.5 beta user Matthew Petrie, e-marketing manager for The MathWorks Inc., in Natick, Mass., said the products biggest benefits are usability improvements on the interface and bolstered search functions. "You can search on any field within the content, which is very powerful," Petrie said.

For its part, CrownPeak is building a hosted Web records management offering it plans to make available before the end of next quarter. Through a partnership with a storage management vendor, the new remote service will track, time-stamp and store every change made to a Web site in a format the customer chooses for its needs, said Jim Howard, CEO of Los Angeles-based CrownPeak.

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