What's At The Center of Your Content Architecture?

I had dinner a few weeks back in Boston with the folks from Harvard Business School Publishing (HBSP).

The restaurant, Mare, had the absolutely unique positioning of “organic, coastal Italian.” (Try the spaghettoni and the bread pudding.) The wine list was super but they lacked cocktails, presumably a victim of the Boston liquor license shortage.

We had an interesting conversation about “content architecture” — that is, in a complete multi-channel publishing system what software and tools should be used where, and in which roles, to achieve business ends. Put concretely, where and how you do handle everything from:

  • Authoring
  • Workflow
  • Content management
  • Content transformation
  • Content enrichment
  • Content delivery
  • Rights management
  • Subscription and billing management
  • Merchandising and cross-selling
  • Search
  • Database

At one point, the HBSP folks asked me a seemingly simple question: “Dave, what do you think should be at the center of your content architecture?”

Sensing a trick question, I hesitated. “Content?” I dared.

“That seems logical to me to me, too,” they said. “But you know what? Content is almost never at the center of a content architecture. The center is always about some relational database or some ecommerce system or some rights management package.”

Then it struck me: this is another thing that MarkLogic enables: we let you put content at the center of your content architecture.

That’s what Elsevier does. That’s what O’Reilly does. That’s what Oxford University Press does.

Amazingly, in large part due to the type of tools available, content has ended up a second-class citizen in a content architecture. It was one of those observations that was so obvious I’d never seen it before.

So, question for you: what’s at the center of your content architecture?

One response to “What's At The Center of Your Content Architecture?

  1. Hi DaveThis is the first time – I saw your blog- though I have been regularly searching for good Content Management blogs on Google and Yahoo, etc. It was nice to see a CEO writing the blog- few others like John Newton have their own.Interestingly, I landed up in your blog – through your company’s web site- Mark Logic- which I found in Google (http://www.bitpipe.com/detail/RES/1083767715_321.html) when I was searching for “Content Interaction” – ML supposed have a “Content Interaction Server” – perhaps the name has changed…I am not sure – if the meaning content interaction is same what I was looking for- wondering if Content can interact with each other transparent to the end users.Any case- coming back to your blog on “Content Architecture” – or lack of that in the context of an enterprise architecture/system is basically due the fact that most of the content dealt by organizations are not owned by them. Hence, they can not enforce a fixed content architecture to them. Entities like Publishing Houses are in a better position to enforce that as they own the content and there is an expectation from the content consumer to have architecture around the content they get from them. Part of large organizations is slowly enforcing content architecture, but the realities of migrating from unstructured world to the structured content are becoming a road block. I am sure it will becoming a reality as we start giving importance to the content management as a subject itself.ThanksSuvendu Sahoo

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