Sunday 10 April 2005

Controlling Enterprise RSS

Wired reports that some newspapers in the US and UK are developing their own branded RSS readers in an attempt to retain the readership that has "bleeding" for years, and perhaps even make some revenue from selling advertising.

Considering we've had push news media before (remember PointCast?), for this to work I suspect they will need to find some way of adding value to public RSS feeds and readers. Providing less technically savvy users with a branded set of pre-selected and categorised RSS channels could be one way of doing that, as one newspaper suggests. In fact, digital news content distributor Factiva already has a limited RSS service in beta and they are also limiting their enterprise users to the "Editor's Choice" of channels

Providing users with a pre-selected list of RSS channels could also be useful within an enterprise, particularly if there are RSS channels broadcasting corporate information that everyone must know. A couple of companies in the US are beginning to tackle the needs of the emerging enterprise market for RSS:

NewsGator offers an NewsGator Enterprise. In an earlier commentary in a blog about this product, they comment that:

"We do a LOT of enterprise business with our Outlook-based product. As we've been working with these customers, we've learned a lot about their needs and issues for information distribution...and what we've been finding is that a desktop-based product alone is not exactly what they need...Imagine NewsGator Online, picked up and installed on a server behind a corporate firewall. Imagine it also (optionally) connecting with Active Directory and Exchange server. No longer would a system administrator need to go install NewsGator Outlook edition on 3000 desktops; rather, with [NewsGator Enterprise], they could install a single server, make some configuration choices, and employees will just get "more stuff" somewhere in their Exchange mailbox without having to install anything on their own machines."

A whitepaper by KnowNow, also in the US, points out four limitations of RSS as far as enterprises are concerned:

  1. Lack of centralized control;
  2. Increased load on infrastructure;
  3. Timeliness, completeness and relevancy of information; and
  4. Duplicate content publication.
Actually, those four issues could be equally applied to e-mail. In that respect I hope RSS helps to reduce information overload rather than contributing to it!

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