Quark Pivots to Content Automation with Emphasis on Modular, ‘Smart’ Content
You may know Quark from our success in page layout and graphic design software. In the nineties our team was behind the revolution of desktop publishing. Our flagship product – QuarkXPress – took page layout from a manual paste-up process to a streamlined, digital experience that forever changed how creative professionals produce the written word.
You may also know Quark from our platform for content automation, which has more recently been adopted by some of the world’s largest and most well-known organizations – IHS Markit and UNICEF to name a couple. Content automation streamlines the entire content lifecycle, from creation and content management to delivery to print, PDF, mobile phones and tablets. Content automation is now generally considered an essential aspect of any content services strategy, and has largely replaced the focus on more traditional enterprise content management (ECM).
It’s also possible that you don’t know us yet. In any case, the point here is that Quark knows content and is leading the charge to simplify and improve the complex task of creating and managing content so that anyone in (and outside) an organization can access and share the right content with the right people at the right time.
Take a moment to get to know a bit more about Quark from the perspective of analyst group 451 Research. In a recent Impact Report, 451 Research weighs in on Quark’s focus on enabling non-technical content creators to create Smart Content – the type of structured content that until now has only been available to technical writers and others who are able to code XML.
451 Research says, “Quark’s component-driven approach to content marks the beginning of a broader industry initiative to move beyond the content object and rethink the way content is created, assembled and managed for maximizing efficiency and security.”
The Next Enterprise Content Revolution: Augmented Reality
If the annual CES expo is anything to go by, 2018 appears to be the year of Augmented Reality (AR). Not only are expectations high for a record year of sales of AR systems, AR-focused startups are receiving a surge of investment. Google Glass, which recently re-emerged after a somewhat disgraceful exit from the general consumer arena, has shaken the controversies that dogged the initial beta release by focusing on industry applications. Glass is joined by a number of other head-mounted displays, such as Vuzix Blade and Microsoft HoloLens.
When thinking about the potential of AR systems in business, it’s easy to understand why Augmented Reality is receiving so much attention these days. While retail may be receiving the greatest amount of press coverage, as with the IKEA Place app that will superimpose an image of a catalog item over your device’s camera-view of your room, it is by no means the only sector taking advantage of the power of augmented reality. Areas where AR is being used in the workforce include assembly of complex systems, such as wire diagrams; construction and building maintenance with digitized blueprints; and management of quality assurance processes using checklists. AR can be useful in almost any situation where a high level of training is required or where employees need quick or hands-free access to a breadth of reference material.
We’re currently still in the early stages of AR adoption, therefore systems are not at the point where it’s easy or cheap to implement overlays of complicated diagrams on live views. However, organizations making AR investments today can start by making the business content they’ve been accruing over the years accessible to AR systems. This involves preparing content to be consumed in small chunks and searched in a way that makes sense for users of the system.
Quark’s Publishing Platform can help with both areas. The content automation offered by Publishing Platform will automate chunking or bursting of sections or regions to accommodate the compact displays of AR systems. Furthermore, Publishing Platform stores a wide variety of information about each content asset, facilitating targeted searches so that the necessary content is available when needed.
Contact us to find out more about how you can prepare for AR adoption in your business with Quark software.
Combating Fake News with Metadata
One of the top challenges faced by the publishing and social media industries in 2017 was how to deal with the problem of fake news. According to a recent Freedom House report, disinformation and propaganda were used to influence elections in 18 countries between June 2016 and May 2017. Fake news is considered a threat to democracy, and thus serious efforts are underway to legitimize content and curb fake news.
Various creative endeavors have emerged, such as Userfeeds’ work to twist ranking algorithms such that genuine content is favored. However, many attempts to solve the fake news dilemma so far have focused on document metadata. Born out of society’s distrust of the news, The Trust Project, a consortium of news companies, has come up with a list of 37 trust indicators that are essentially metadata giving the consumer information about a particular story, including details about the news owner, the journalist, and the research methods used to produce the story.
Possibly the most influential group to work on content metadata for the purpose of validating the source is Schema.org, which is supported by the major search engines and by the W3C. While Schema.org has been promoting vocabularies for structured data for a few years now, in the past year the community has been refining the properties associated with news pieces, such as defining a Satirical Article, a label that could potentially be used to get around Google’s and Facebook’s ban on fake news making money off of their advertising platforms.
The incentive to use metadata as spelled out by Schema.org and the Trust Project is provided by the search engines and social media sites. Facebook, Google, and Twitter have all recently committed to using the Trust Project’s trust indicators, enabling audiences to gauge the reliability of news sources. The idea is that people will be less likely to share news stories if those trust indicators are not present or are questionable and thus reduce the impact of fake news.
With Smart Content, the Quark team can help you legitimize your content with metadata, even making the process transparent to your authors. Contact us to find out how.
About the Author
Autumn Cuellar is a Technical Services Consultant for the Quark content automation team. Her first degree is in Biomedical Engineering, which led to a role as a researcher at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. There Autumn co-authored a metadata specification, explored the use of ontologies for advancing biological research, and developed CellML, an XML language for describing biological models. Since leaving the academic world, Autumn has been delighted to share her enthusiasm for XML in technical and enterprise applications. At Quark, Autumn provides her XML expertise to organizations seeking to hide the XML for a better non-technical user experience.
Quark Partners with The Semantic Web Company
Quark is thrilled to announce our partnership with The Semantic Web Company, the leading provider of graph-based metadata, search, and analytic solutions. As part of our new partnership, Quark will integrate The Semanitic Web Company’s PoolParty solution with Quark’s content automation platform.
PoolParty is middleware that helps organizations manage corporate knowledge models, extract useful knowledge from big data sets, and integrate both structured and unstructured content. We’ll integrate PoolParty with the Quark content automation platform through a lightweight API, which will enable global businesses to enrich their content semantically. The integration blends narrative content with data to improve searchability and delivery.
Advanced Metadata Informs Content Delivery
Delivering content to the right consumers at the right time requires discipline and consistency around terms and labeling. Now with PoolParty, Quark’s clients can leverage advanced metadata features to further inform the delivery of information based on consumers’ specific requirements.
“Our collaboration with the Semantic Web Company and PoolParty brings together two best-of-class platforms and unlocks the business value of digital information like nothing else on the market today,” said Dave White, Quark CTO. “The integration of our solutions facilitates the most successful initiatives around content reuse and discoverability, semantic search, machine learning, enterprise data integration, and more.”
Andreas Blumauer, CEO of Semantic Web Company and product architect of PoolParty Semantic Suite added, “PoolParty provides tools for different roles as subject matter experts, information architects, knowledge engineers and developers. It is cross-functional teams that make dynamic content management happen. Quark end users will heavily benefit from semantically enriched content.”
Read coverage of the new partnership in KMWorld.
Sebastian Gabler and Helmut Nagy of The Semantic Web Company (PoolParty) join Quark's Jason Aiken in Washington D.C. for Taxonomy Boot Camp 2017.
The Critical Value of Smart Content for Artificial Intelligence (AI)
It’s the Rise of the Machines: Artificial Intelligence is here and our world is getting better every day! Except, not yet, not really, and not without a lot of work. But, hey, that describes all deployments of automation from digital assistants to paint robots.
So…what will it take to make artificial intelligence (AI) a reality? In my whitepaper “The Critical Value of Smart Content for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning,” I investigate the state of AI today and highlight the one factor that will allow us to move beyond digital assistants to more powerful implementations of AI. In the new whitepaper I cover:
- The different types of AI: Some say there are three types, others say 33 (the lack of agreement is part of the industry challenge). I’ll explain three main types of AI, including Applied AI, General AI, and Super AI.
- The role of Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing in AI: These two concepts are critical components of Applied AI, the most commonly deployed type of AI today.
- How the Semantic Web is one key to AI success: I outline the Semantic Web and the standards developed by W3.org that are most useful in deployments of AI.
- The importance of metadata, complex rules training, and Big Data to AI: These are great starts to informing an AI system, and I explain why – and what’s missing.
Lastly, I’ll define the ideal description of content that should feed an AI system. It’s known as Smart Content, and it will help us all achieve the highest return on investment when implementing Artificial Intelligence.
To learn more, download the whitepaper “The Critical Value of Smart Content for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.”
About the Author
Dave White is Chief Technology Officer for Quark Software. An engineer by training with over two decades defining standards for content automation, White is on the forefront of technologies shaping the future of content. He works with customers and partners across industries to develop and implement transformative solutions for creating, managing, publishing and delivering business-critical content.
Quark’s Mark Lewis Named STC Fellow
Quark is proud to announce that Mark Lewis, Content Strategist on our Professional Services team, has been named a Society of Technical Communication (STC) Fellow. Nominated by STC Fellows and elected by the STC Board of Directors, the rank of Fellow is the highest honor bestowed by the Society upon members.
Becoming an STC Fellow is a lifelong journey of achievement and throughout his career Mark has made distinct contributions to the STC community. Just a few of Mark’s accomplishments:
- Held various positions within the STC from technical advisor and treasurer to vice president of local chapters, mentored up-and-coming technical communications professionals, and designed content strategy tracks for STC Summits.
- Provided thought leadership on a range of topics – from localization metrics to the Internet of Smart Things – through presentations and papers written for STC local, STC national, and other industry events.
- Authored DITA Metrics 101, published by The Rockley Group, which acts as a lens for the type of content analysis, cost models, and design required to reach content automation. The book uses DITA as an example but the metrics and methodology can be applied to any schema that allows for content reuse.
- Developed Quark’s Content Strategy Practice and continues to define the content analysis and services that are foundations of content automation.
The STC honored Mark for “[his] tireless devotion, enthusiastically pioneering in content strategy/marketing and DITA; for [his] knowledge in promoting the profession, and willingness to work with anyone in the field of technical communication.”
Of his new STC rank, Mark said, “I personally owe much of my career to the STC and all the growth opportunities offered to me as a member. In every role I’ve held with the STC my goals have been to learn, grow, and give back to the next generation of technical communicators.”
Congratulations Mark on this well-deserved honor!
ECM Sheds its Skin
Gartner recently announced the death of ECM (Enterprise Content Management) and the birth of Content Services! In his blog, Gartner Research Director Michael Woodbridge describes this more as a change in definition, and it’s clear from the supporting Gartner notes that this change in definition reflects a broader scope in a changing marketplace.
No technology market changes overnight or in isolation, but it’s refreshing to see Gartner frequently refer to this change as an evolution. However you phrase it – death, change, or evolution – let’s examine this transformation from managed content to “content services.”
Content is very much alive
Any snake owner will tell you (perhaps more than you want to know) about the rich process that takes place when a snake sheds its skin. I’m referring to the cliché we use to describe transformation in positive terms as a kind of renewal, just like the skin-changing process so vital to a snake’s survival and healthy growth. This doesn’t happen instantly and if you know the signs you can see the change coming.
Significant financial investment, resources, and time have been devoted to enterprise content management systems over the years. Much like a snake’s belly begins to turn color days before it actually begins to shed, the ECM market has also long indicated a need for this change. For example, going some ways back, there’s this quote from Alan Paterson, author of Office Systems: Planning, Procurement, and Implementation (1985):
Storage can be achieved easily…the difficulty lies…not so much in storage, but in how to manage the vast masses of knowledge in an orderly form and reasonable response times.
Quite apt for today’s enterprise content management systems, search and retrieval help surface content and fuel insights, especially with the growth of enterprise data and changes Google has made related to its Search Application. This is only one specific use case around content, but this need and others like it have always mattered.
What is Content Services?
According to Gartner, Content Services are a set of services and microservices, embodied either as an integrated product suite or as separate applications that share common APIs and repositories, to exploit diverse content types and to serve multiple constituencies and numerous use cases across an organization.
Why should you care?
It’s really about time we had new definition in this market. ECM-centric systems and processes have resulted in key gaps that hinder the delivery of true business value around content. Generic ECM systems often lack the user experience around the content lifecycle, which can impact adoption and therefore maximum benefit in the investment. To maximize the return on investment for any enterprise system, successful initiatives driven by visionary business leaders should think differently as they shop for new platforms. Many already do.
The focus on function and features, by way of Content Services, paves the way to a better overall user experience within a managed context. This directly improves adoption and return on investment for embedded enterprise systems. Woodbridge (2017) describes four historical ECM goals to help explain how we got here:
- Regulatory compliance and risk management
- Retention and dissemination of business knowledge
- Cost and process efficiencies
- Innovation and new ways of working
While ECM excelled at meeting the first goal, the others proved more challenging and outcomes included some less than perfect user experiences.
Where does Quark fit in?
Quark leadership saw the opportunity for content services and content automation almost ten years ago. Moving beyond the traditional ECM approach of managing files through a process, content automation is about extending from content creation to content delivery via reusable content components. The result is a modernized technical architecture with a rich RESTful API infrastructure and a focus on usability for subject matter experts. Allowing expert end users to “just write” as they produce content within a managed workflow and remove the typical distractions of copy/paste, formatting, email-based review processes, and duplication of effort are benefits enjoyed by many Quark customers.
Successful adoption of the Quark Enterprise Soltutions has enabled significant business value for many industry verticals:
- Banks around the world can ensure their tellers have up to the minute geo-specific content for their customers
- Information products focused on industry research expand the market for thought leadership and drive new product channels focused on targeted, engaging high-value communications for content consumers
- Major global players connect donors to economic development projects thanks to timely, personalized, and automated delivery of narrative content and relevant data
- Governmental organizations enjoy modernized, automated process around collaborative review of emerging policy to deliver end results in a fraction of the time
Learn more about the Quark content automation platform and how it can help expand the business value of your content. And, just like every time my snake sheds her skin, I am looking forward to radiant new colors as the content industry continues to embrace this trend.
Metadata: Really Cool…When You Don’t Have to Mark It
Earlier this month, the announcement that Siri’s creators had successfully placed an order for pizza with voice commands made a splash in the technology community because the pizza ordering process is a fairly complex process for dumb machines. The success of the pizza order is one realization of the Semantic Web envisioned by Tim Berners-Lee, a vision that sees computers intelligently communicating with each other to automate complicated tasks. If the voice-commanded pizza order is any indication, the future is bright for increased productivity through digital assistants.
Much of the promise of the Semantic Web is built on a platform of metadata, which is used to identify data in a machine-readable fashion. For example, metadata can be used to differentiate between types of doctors so that someone asking their digital assistant for a nearby doctor isn’t directed to a doctor of veterinary medicine.
Metadata can be useful wherever a bit of machine intelligence is needed, including in an organization’s business-critical content. Take, for instance, online policy documents that are peppered with important terms defined in a glossary: it might be useful for key terms to be automatically linked to the definition of those terms, or a window with the definition to appear when your audience hovers over the term. For another example, financial reports may need public companies automatically linked to stock data.
In the above examples, glossary terms and public companies need to be marked as such for the system to identify where linking or hover behavior needs to be added. The problem is that leaving the marking responsibility to your subject matter experts (SMEs) is an undue burden. First, manual marking of metadata is an inefficiency that wastes your SMEs’ time. Second, the potential exists for metadata-appropriate content to be overlooked, which means that your audience may not receive the full benefit of your metadata-enriched processes.
Automated marking of metadata is one way in which Quark’s content automation expertise can help organizations enrich content processes — documents can be scanned for glossary terms, public companies, or other such important words or phrases and have the necessary metadata inserted at key points automatically using Quark software. Organizations can place the power of the automated metadata marking into their SMEs’ hands so that they can see where the metadata is being added and supplement or remove the marking as needed. Alternatively, the metadata can be added to content during the publishing process without any human intervention. Either way, your published content will be all the more rich for the intelligence added through metadata.
The Beginner’s Guide to Smart Content
For decades technical writers and technical publishers have reaped the benefits of XML to lower the cost and effort associated with creating, managing and reusing content across multiple output formats. Now, with the introduction of Smart Content, business users and subject matter experts can easily adopt XML in order to keep up with consumer demand for high-value communication.
Download the free eBook “The Beginner’s Guide to Smart Content” to access a look at the evolution of XML and Smart Content, with chapters that include:
- What is Smart Content?
- A Brief Primer on Publishing Processes
- The Cost of Smart Content
- Who Else Is Using XML for Document Production?
- What’s Wrong with XML?
- Smart Content Details
- 12 Reasons to Adopt Smart Content