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The Enterprise RSS Value Chain

The Enterprise RSS Value Chain

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Published by James Dellow
Along the way, an important allied Web 2.0 technology has been largely neglected. This technology is Enterprise RSS and if you can understand how to harness it, the possibilities are endless. Originally published in Image & Data Manager (IDM) magazine with the title, Enterprise RSS benefits go ignored, in November/December 2008.
Along the way, an important allied Web 2.0 technology has been largely neglected. This technology is Enterprise RSS and if you can understand how to harness it, the possibilities are endless. Originally published in Image & Data Manager (IDM) magazine with the title, Enterprise RSS benefits go ignored, in November/December 2008.

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Published by: James Dellow on Jul 26, 2009
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10/29/2012

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"Helping you to get on, not get by, with information technology" 
The Enterprise RSSValue Chain
By James Dellow.Pretty much the defininginformation managementchallenge of our time is thequestion of getting the rightinformation to the right person atthe right time. In practice, ITdepartments are often caughtbetween a rock and a hard place,desire to access availabletechnologies, and being asked todo more with less: less staff, lessbudget and a growing list of tasksand projects just to keep the lightson.A typical reaction to this problem,is to adopt the most popular socialcomputing technologies,particularly blogs, wikis. But alongthe way, an important allied Web2.0 technology has been largelyneglected. This technology isEnterprise RSS and if you canunderstand how to harness it, thepossibilities are endless.While not everyone understandsyet why Enterprise RSS isimportant, there is a growingacknowledgement from manycommentators that it will play animportant role in the evolution of Web-oriented intranets andEnterprise 2.0.This is because while Web 2.0technologies are enabling us tocreate and make available moredata and content than everbefore, we are still left with thechallenge that too little or toomuch information results in poorbusiness and operationaloutcomes. Unfortunately thisvision of the role RSS can play maynot be enough for organisationsto make a full investment inEnterprise RSS right now.Email has of course alreadycreated a precedent – since it firstappeared on mainframecomputers in the 1960s, its use asa business tool has acceleratedexponentially during the lastdecade such that it might beconsidered the de facto standardfor communication and evenhuman-centred systemintegration. But by providing avehicle for organisations to delivera vast amount of information totheir employee’s Inboxes, this hasultimately both enabled andconstrained collaboration andgrowth.Naturally, users are now loath toaugment email with yet anothertechnology in fear of receiving yetmore information.
©2003-2008 James Dellow/Chief Technology Solutions. Web: http://www.chieftech.com.au/ Phone: +61 414 233 711Disclaimer: The information in this article is of a general nature. Please seek advice for specific circumstances.
 
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"Helping you to get on, not get by, with information technology" 
The reality is that you doneed to understand therole of Enterprise RSS.
They are not ready to see how RSScan be the defining approach tomediating the flow of informationto the Inbox. In fact, they shouldnever even need to know thatthey are using RSS.But if you are a technologists,social media champion,knowledge manager or aninformation professional of anyother description who is pushingfor the adoption of social mediatools into the enterprise, then thereality is that you do need tounderstand the role of EnterpriseRSS.You also need to be able todemonstrate the the fit betweenthis new technology and thebenefits it might provide in orderto describe a compelling businesscase that will make sense in theshort term. This is not abouttrying to sell a dream, as thereward for understanding the roleEnterprise RSS is that it can deliverimmediate tangible benefits whilealso providing a platform that cando so much more in the future.So why exactly is it difficult toposition the value of EnterpriseRSS?Well, first, RSS is not a wellunderstood concept. RSS is afamily of Web feed formats usedto publish frequently updatedworks – such as blog entries, newsheadlines, audio, and video – in astandardised format, also knownas a protocol. An RSS document(which is called a "feed", "webfeed" or "channel") includes full orsummarised text, plus meta datasuch as publishing dates andauthorship. Web feeds benefitpublishers by letting themsyndicate content quickly andautomatically.The RSS (“Really SimpleSyndication”) protocol (which youmight also hear referred to asATOM as this is a variation of afamily of evolved RSS protocolstandards) is one of the oldestideas in the Web 2.0 cloud.However, no one ever really getsexcited about protocols, even if they are simple but powerfulstandard like RSS. Still, as hasbeen pointed out before, no oneever championed the use of SMTP(Simple Mail Transport Protocol)but everyone wanted email. Inother words, understandably,people are only really interestedin what a technology can do forthem, not what it is and there is alack of knowledge around thetactical and strategic benefits of RSS.A challenge for Enterprise RSS isone that many modern ITpractitioners will recognise: theapparent simplicity of the Webexperience. Many things on theWeb have been engineered tomake the simple for the end user – who of course believes thattherefore it’s easy. Using feedscreates an assumption that thereis nothing to do - the gap betweenRSS on the Web and EnterpriseRSS is very much like the gapbetween Web search andEnterprise Search. They are inmany respects vastly different
©2003-2008 James Dellow/Chief Technology Solutions. Web: http://www.chieftech.com.au/ Phone: +61 414 233 711Disclaimer: The information in this article is of a general nature. Please seek advice for specific circumstances.
 
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"Helping you to get on, not get by, with information technology" 
For IT departments in particular this kind of feed syndication infrastructure provides the means toeffectively manage supply and demand of syndicated content and data.
applications of similartechnologies.Getting the maximum benefitsfrom RSS inside the firewall takesmore than simply giving users amethod to consume RSS using acorporate endorsed desktop RSSreader (in the same way that it isdifficult to satisfy the request for‘Google-like-search’ in theenterprise).Yet it is the very potential of Enterprise RSS to provide aplatform for brand newinformation and social computingsolutions that makes it soimportant. Enterprise RSSprovides the necessary supportfor the effective use of feedswithin an organisation as part of the overall enterprise informationenvironment.In fact, Enterprise RSS is anabsolutely critical element of Enterprise 2.0 “plumbing” -without it, disparate socialcomputing tools like blogs andwikis just add to the problem of the information flooded silos thatalready exist.Enterprise RSS achieves this by:
Providing tools to makecomposite feeds fromother feeds and data,including legacy systems;
Making it easy for peopleto find the feeds theyneed and the feeds theywant;
Making sure feeds areavailable, readable andbandwidth efficient;
Finding out what peopleare reading (and whatthey are not)… andfeeding this back into theEnterprise RSS system;and
Protecting users frommalicious code andsupport for secure feedsthat only authorised userscan access.While end-users are lessconcerned about some of thosebenefits, for IT departments inparticular this kind of feedsyndication infrastructureprovides the means to effectivelymanage supply and demand of syndicated content and datathrough the corporate network.And as far as the end-user isconcerned, they simply getreliable access to the rightinformation, at the right time inthe way they want to access it.Of course a major weakness of arguing the case for EnterpriseRSS based on these benefits isthat it assumes you are actuallytrying to build a Web 2.0-orientated intranet. The fact isthat the information workplacecreated by many organisations isunplanned. So if you have barelyscratched the surface of enterprise social computing or aresimply looking for more costeffective tactical approaches toinformation management, then
©2003-2008 James Dellow/Chief Technology Solutions. Web: http://www.chieftech.com.au/ Phone: +61 414 233 711Disclaimer: The information in this article is of a general nature. Please seek advice for specific circumstances.

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Another aspect of RSS for enterprise is the exposure gain from news aggregators. Several good sites do it. http://metanews.com is obviously my favorite. The benefit per above is that the RSS doesn't have a short life. Something captured by an aggregator will get indexed and stay around forever. Just something to note.

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