Case Study: Powering the 'Web of Knowledge'

A publisher serving a scholarly research audience turns to Mediasurface content management software to organize and maintain its rapidly expanding Web site.
Posted January 4, 2002
By

Beth Cox


ISI is one of those companies that just seems to have been made for the Internet - lots of content being accessed by lots of users.

The Philadelphia-based outfit is a unit of the Thomson Corp. It provides information and reports to the scholarly research community through its "ISI Web of Knowledge," an online compendium of integrated journal data, patent information, proceedings from conventions, and life science literature.

The service also offers Web resources and other scholarly content that give researchers access to historical data and keeps them abreast of recent developments in their fields.

When the Web came along, "it wasn't long before the ISI Web site had become the company's most vital communication medium," says Jacqueline H. Trolley, director of association relations at the global company.

The company Web site was first launched about five years ago as a public relations and informational forum. By early 2000 it had grown to include 2,000 pages and was expanding rapidly as Web-based information dissemination came into the mainstream.

"The Web site was not managed through a content management system and because of its size and complexity had become a management nightmare," Trolley said. Further, "it was increasingly difficult to insure proper updating of materials and to promote growth by ISI staff because of the inflexibility and difficulty of entering and maintaining content."

Enter a company called Mediasurface, a developer and marketer of content management software products and related services.

The company says its end-to-end, dynamic content management application supports the entire process from content creation through to dynamic delivery, incorporating search functionality and application integration as standard.

"Mediasuface separates the design and navigation from content and supports the entire content management process," Trolley said. "It is flexible, allowing staff to identify and guide the creation of templates and (organize) the publishing flow (for) individual departmental business needs and then to easily train these 'contributors.' Essentially it has allowed us to move from a client- to a contributor-based operation."

ISI is using Mediasurface version 3.0.4. So far, implementation has included the ISI Human Resources, Corporate Management, Education & Training and Corporate Communications departments.

"We are currently focused on developing sections that will allow for contributions via our offices in Philadelphia and the United Kingdom," Trolley said. "These sections will be presented in five foreign languages. Following this launch, we will incorporate Asian-language sites in Korean, Chinese and Japanese. Material for these sites will flow in through offices located throughout Asia."

There are a lot of content management solutions out there, but Trolley said the decision to go with ISI wasn't difficult.

"We identified a need for a content management system and investigated several companies in coordination with representatives from the ISI Systems & Technology Department," Trolley said. "Mediasurface was a clear choice when we compared price and functionality with other content management product offerings."

Other products considered included solutions from Interwoven and NCompass, among others.

Trolley said ISI saw the key advantages of Mediasurface as:

  • "The ability to set up a publishing flow "that allows us to create a structured editorial process for each contributing entity.

  • "The ease with which our current site could be migrated into Mediasurface, using integration filters to pull in our current site content one individual section at a time.

  • "The built-in functions that allow us to pull in content dynamically and share common elements among multiple pages.

  • "The ability to create a customized administration layer and the fact that we could create a standard navigational structure as a component and use this bit of code across multiple templates.

  • "Mediasurface's ability to allow contributors to upload multimedia items and graphics as well as content right from a Web browser, so that no client software is required."
  • How is this project working out?

    "Contributors are beginning to feel empowered," Trolley said. "We are beginning to see a sense of ownership developing (among outside contributors). This will ensure that the site will grow and be supported without adding additional staff. This additional cost savings is important to ISI. We have been able to extend the effectiveness of the Web site without incurring more personnel costs."

    Mediasurface, whose clients include Ingersoll-Rand Co., says its software (now at version 4.0) allows business users, rather than technicians, to make changes to the content of Web sites. The software, which separates design and navigation from content, also integrates well with other enterprise software apps. For the Ingersoll-Rand implementation, Mediasurface integrated with Autonomy Fetch, an advanced search application from Autonomy.

    Mediasurface, based in the United Kingdom, was founded in 1996. Other clients include Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Oxford University Press, BabyCenter.com and EMI Music, among others.

    The company markets its applications by license; either for perpetual use or for a fixed term of two or four years. It also markets content management solutions designed to meet specific business requirements on a fixed-price, fixed-time basis. Pricing begins at 150,000 pounds, or roughly $215,000. Hardware and Oracle RDBMS may be required.






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