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Real-World Value of XML and CMS

by Dr. John Tunnicliffe

When it came to overhauling our corporate web-site, www.capco.com, we had a number of challenges to overcome. In particular, how could we get the right balance between the competing demands of design and technology?

On the design front we needed to accurately project our corporate brand: Capco unites thought leadership with practical advice on improving the efficiency and profitability of our clients operating within the financial services industry. As such, projecting the right image is vital for our corporate success.

In terms of technology, we demanded a flexible content management system (CMS) which offered easy-to-use interfaces for content-contributors and the very latest in terms of ASP.NET-based development tools. Our ultimate goal was to make our web site serve as a powerful business tool, while ensuring an affordable and immediately meaningful infrastructure.

Our old web site was high on design, but low on practicality. The overzealous use of Flash technology, particularly in site navigation, had made the site complex and cumbersome to update. What is more, site visitors complained they could not find the information they wanted on the mostly static, brochure-ware web site.

The RFP process yielded three packaged solutions from leading CMS vendors with total system costs ranging from $7,000 to $50,000 USD. Projected time for installation ranged from days to months. Interestingly the more expensive packages often required more customization to meet our business requirements, thereby increasing the deployment timeframe and costs to unacceptable levels.

As a financial services firm, Capco understands the importance of XML. We saw a golden opportunity to leverage its power within the CMS. Yet we were surprised to learn that, in order to make XML immediately meaningful and useful, most CM solutions require extensive development work.

In this project, we knew that success would only come with the selection of the right software components and the right design agency.

After reviewing the market, we selected a browser-based CMS from Ektron, Inc. (www.ektron.com) which offers powerful XML capabilities to improve the capture, creation, sharing and reuse of information.

Selecting the right web design agency was somewhat harder. We found that there were precious few agencies that offered the right combination of design and software development skills. After a global search, we selected Creator (www.creator.co.uk), a London-based interactive design agency that offered the right mix of leading-edge design and hands-on software development.

The Ektron CMS allows us to quickly and easily get XML into and out of the CMS. What is more, Ektron's XML-centric features include:

  • A browser-based WYSIWYG editor that allows non-technical staff to tag content with XML using a word-processor-like interface.
  • Full content reuse and repurposing allowing us to create content once for output to the Web, then repurposing for other devices and formats (PDF, mobile phone, etc.).
  • Automated content re-formatting by using on-the-fly XML transformation with XSLT-based templates.
  • Full content validation - ensuring users input complete and accurate content by checking against the base XML schema.
  • On-line form creation capability which provides our non-technical marketing staff with a visual design tool for creating, using and managing XML-based forms.

In choosing an open, standards-based CM solution, we found we could protect our existing investment in Microsoft technology (e.g. IIS, SQL Server, Active Directory and ASP.NET) and easily integrate with other specialist products (i.e. Lyris ListManager and ClickTracks).

Our new web site not only provides us with a vehicle to publish fresh and innovative thought-leadership articles to the financial services community but also confirms Capco's corporate image as a capable, mature and trustworthy partner.

As we move into the future, we plan to pursue more opportunities to fully exploit the synergies of content management and XML. This, along with potential to leverage the speed and agility of the Microsoft .NET framework, will be a winning combination for Capco.


Submitted by Dr. John Tunnicliffe, Global Applications Development Manager, Capco

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