Bigger and Bigger Fish

Bigger and Bigger Fish

Posted on February 2017

In our circles, there are currently a lot of small and medium-sized fish. Like us, they work in software and services markets either primarily or indirectly related to structured writing and structured mark-up. We note that some organizations are "implementing DITA." They may have implemented DITA in Tech Pubs, but now want to implement DITA at the enterprise level.

We see this approach, with its initial and primary focus on DITA, as backwards. Organizations implement DITA at great expense in technical areas, see the benefits, and then try to roll out a complex, very specialized behemoth to the enterprise. This is a failed approach and we are not aware of any significant organization where this has actually worked.

Recently, we have been working with several very large organizations with the objective of implementing content standards for control, content reuse, and flexible publishing. They want a cost-effective, least-change solution. DITA is often underneath, but a simpler configuration of DITA with complexity of DITA hidden. They know that any change has to be easy to implement and cost-effective.

Recent conversations at MIT's Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) and with two very large consulting organizations have encouraged us. People in these large organizations see the opportunity to bring information development and publishing to the next level. They are sometimes noting that the first phase must involve simple straight-forward authoring/content standards with appropriate supporting technology. Perhaps you are finding yourself in similar conversations and sharing these same observations.

During 2017 we believe that the need for structured authoring supported by an XML architecture will rise to the surface. One or more of the "big guys" will jump into the fray. They will see that the majority of potential authors and contributors use MS Word. The use of technically advanced XML editors and web-based tools will be limited, perhaps only requiring round tripping of content between these products and the authors who use MS Word.

We'll be talking more about this at the Content Management Strategies Conference in San Diego where Rob Hanna from Precision Content and I will be talking about how to move to the front of the DITA freight train.