Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Guest Blog: Some thoughts on event-driven enterprise syndication

Posted by Candida Kutz - January 12, 2005

by Michael Terner, CEO of KnowNow Inc
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The Internet revolutionized the way businesses operate. Now RSS is about to completely change the way employees, partners and customers communicate. RSS will, for the first time, truly enable the information you need, and only the information you need, to find you. Whether employees need the most up-to-date corporate financial data, manufacturing and inventory statistics, FCC filings, breaking industry news or any other time-sensitive information, “event-driven” RSS is taking over where other communication mediums fall short.

“Events” are anything that produces a change in the business state, such as a drop in the available inventory of widgets. For instance, as soon as the number of widgets drops below a certain level, event-driven alerts are syndicated via RSS to subscribers of that information—without having to poll for it—so they can take immediate corrective action. Event-driven syndication eliminates latency, reduces errors, ensures regulatory compliance and fits nicely into existing business processes. This sort of notification used to be handled by e-mail, but that channel is now completely overburdened, having been either drowned in spam or ignored until it’s too late. Event-driven RSS provides a solution to this problem. With event-driven RSS, stakeholders in an organization’s overall success move from searching for information to watching it.

Connecting employees in large organizations has always been a challenge, and traditional fixes like portals and email have fallen short. Neither solution addresses the need for real-time, event-driven communication. And both put a significant burden on users to manually filter vast amounts of information in order to determine what is relevant to them. Email is and will always be plagued by spam, and portals don’t satisfy the increasingly stringent regulatory requirements regarding timeliness, accuracy and accountability surrounding financial transactions and reporting.

Employees already depend on public RSS feeds for the information they want. Now corporations can use the RSS standard to connect employees with the corporate information then need, when they need it.

But for all if RSS’ virtues, its use in the enterprise up to now has been inefficient. For instance, there’s been a lack of standardized tools for viewing, authoring, administering and providing security for syndicated content, and RSS puts a heavy load on IT infrastructure. In large corporate environments, thousands of users are constantly polling for updated RSS feeds, either manually or via readers with automated polling. Other problems include duplicate feeds being moved across the network, thousands of users polling for the same information and duplicate data being pushed to users who are polling when no updated data is available.

Event-driven RSS alleviates these issues. An event-driven RSS model benefits publishers who bear the cost of network hosting infrastructure; end users, who like to get information as soon as it becomes available; and large corporations, which have thousands of constituents that haven’t standardized on any one reader technology and taxes corporate bandwidth.

For publishers, event-driven RSS lets consumers subscribe to feeds and receive updates as soon as they’re made, rather than polling for them. That alleviates much of the pressure created when a publisher’s site gets popular and regular polling by consumers of that site overwhelms its serving capacity. Corporate IT departments realize even more significant benefits. Event-driven RSS integrates with corporate data stores and applications and connects entire organizations, even across the firewall. Companies also gain centralized control and management of their content, can introduce intelligent matching and searching, audit logging, filtering and user selection to eliminate regulatory exposure.

It hasn’t taken long, but RSS is a proven disruptive technology. SiliconValleyWatcher.com is a perfect example; Tom Foremski and his crew have already made it onto the list of the 250 most influential media blogs according to Bacon’s International, a decidedly old-school media research firm. For the blog medium to be so recognized in such a short period of time is a testament to the power of RSS.

Quick corporate adoption of the technology isn’t far behind. By publishing data changes to subscribers via RSS as soon as those changes occur, companies become truly transparent and connected. Like journalists, corporate IT departments, marketers and compliance officers realize that they too must “publish or perish.”
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