Conference Notes

Notes on "RSS: Bridging the Gap Between the People and Information that Drive Business"

Sam Weber, the VP of Technical Services from KnowNow is presenting. Sam leads a number of groups within KnowNow. Have been around for 7 years.

Case Study: An IT Outsourcer with 40,000 Employees, around 120 Countries
– No consistent method of direct knowledge “delivery”
– Information trapped in about 30 intranets, portals and knowledge bases. 1000s of internal blogs

Challenge … (a) how to deliver knowledge communications consistently, and (b) quickly distributing information to technical employees

RSS enablement … increased portal and knowledge base usage across thousands of users; improved knowledge worker effectiveness

The Problem
– Huge proliferation of information, both on the Internet and Intranet.
– Email is insufficient, static portals are broken (you have to go there to see what’s new).
– Information workers spend a lot of time searching for information … up to 8-10 hours a week.

The Solution
– Syndication in the enterprise. How do you go about it?
– Step 1 … access and monitor all information sources. Eg, internal data sources (email, content management, enterprise portals, databases), and external content (RSS, Yahoo, Google, NYT)
– … databases … monitor record changes
– … portals … monitor revisions
– … applications … monitor relevant changes, eg, order status updates
– … intranets/extranets … monitor changes
– … email … calendar events
– Step 2 … relevancy of the information to the individual
– Step 3 … push information to users … so they don’t have to go to a system to get it, but that information may pull them in
– Step 4 … capture user behavior, as a way of monitoring what someone is doing and interested in

In the KnowNow architecture, there is an aggregation server in the middle for enterprise syndication.

Minimum requirements for RSS in the enterprise:
– monitor all sources inside and outside the enterprise
– match content to users based on relevancy
– leverage the network effect
– deliver information to users as available
– provide enterprise security and management
– enable end-user personalization and control

Customer Case Studies
Wells Fargo
– background … six major customer data warehouse platforms across different business units; customer data integrity constant issue
– challenges … (a) aligning meta-data across all platforms, (b) ensuring errors at data- or schema-level are identified and fixed immediately, and (c) email is used as a notification tool
– benefits … (a) reduced latency between error discovery to resolution, (b) increased customer data integrity (RSS is used to syndicate information and highlight errors in the data), and (c) improved downstream customer processes.

Other uses … for tracking branding information

Question 1. What’s the benefit of RSS vs. email?
(Sam) … there are various ways to drive notification, including email. However, email is used as a system of delivery across the entire system today … with 15 email notifications already in the transformation process. If this was delivered by email, it would get lost in the noise.

Question 2. What did you do here?
(Sam) … there were a number of places we integrated. We looked at rows in a database … wrote some code to look at this, look at that, and if it’s out of sync, send me a notification. We also are replacing some of the email notifications with RSS status alerts. Teradata data warehouse doesn’t support RSS.

A West Coast Bank
– 10,000+ employees, 321 branch offices
– background … (a) no consistent method of corporate communication, and (b) unable to target messages based on office/location/function
– challenge … >50% of email is junk, and over 80 internal distribution lists (many people didn’t want to receive these). Transitioned from Notes 5 to SharePoint, and found that it took longer to find information inside SharePoint compared to Notes. 16 clicks.
– what they did … replaced the internal distribution lists … with RSS syndicated feeds
– benefits … (a) connect employees with relevant portal content in one click; (b) eliminate time spent searching; and (c) increased employee morale and retention

Where to from here?
– (1) wait for the large system vendors to deliver RSS across the enterprise
– (2) remain with the status quo … continue to overuse email as the main collaboration tool
– (3) implement an enterprise syndication solution

Note that there is a key difference between (a) mere syndication via RSS, and (b) aggregation and intelligent targeting.

3. How do you build a profile of an individual’s interest?
(Sam) … we track what the user subscribes to, what they read, what they unsubscribe from, what their enterprise profile is (from HR), functional information, job role, etc. Also, we think that you should be able to track what people are writing and working on, and use that as an input criteria.

4. What about ATOM?
(Sam) … use RSS as the lead syndication offering, but support ATOM and other types as well.

5. How secure is the encryption?
(Sam) … we leverage everything that RSS offers at a security level, and HTTPS for enhanced security.

6. Can these feeds be delivered in a variety of ways?
(Sam) … Yes, the engine should be able to output RSS/ATOM, and then it should be able to be read by any reader. Open consumption. We do like KnowNow applications to be used on the desktop, but you definitely don’t have to do so.

7. Have you got examples of where to use this for external content?
(Sam) … many of our customers start with external information, because it is easier and quickly. An example … Wells Fargo monitors about 1,000 different external information sources, and also tracks 70 million blogs through various persistent search constructs.

8. What about multi-language support?
(Sam) … KnowNow’s platform supports multiple languages out-of-the-box. UTF-8 for data. From a context and matching context, we only support the Western languages. Some way to go for this.

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