SGML: Chet Ensign's SGML: The Billion Dollar Secret

Chet Ensign's SGML: The Billion Dollar Secret

Extracts from From Chapter 1

Documents are the vehicle for a wide variety of information flows crucial to supporting and achieving corporate goals. This is where your investments in computer technology have shown little return. Because in most companies today, the investments in PCs, GUI operating systems and WYSIWYG word processors have only improved your ability to generate paper, not information. And the costs associated with creating, managing, and using all that paper rise in lockstep with its volume. For every additional document you want to -- or have to -- produce, its seems that you always need another analyst, another writer, another desktop publisher or designer, and newer software.

In recent years, movements focused on improving corporate effectiveness have become virtual household names: Total Quality Management (TQM), ISO 9000, Reengineering, etc. Their popularity and persistence -- if not always their success -- are evidence of widespread recognition by corporate management that their companies need to do a better job of coordinating activities across the entire enterprise. Managers have recognized that the inability to control internal processes bogs their companies down and prevents them from meeting critical goals like:

Solving these problems has become a mantra of corporate survival, as well as a major focus of technology development. The one area that hasn't been recognized as demanding the same degree of high-level, enterprise-wide attention is document-type information processing -- looking for ways to manage the information instead of the piece of paper. The costs to your company are significant, if difficult to measure with precision: lost employee effectiveness, missed market opportunities, increased customer support costs and decreased customer satisfaction.

Think of this as the next frontier of modern business management. The pioneers have been there already. The case studies in this book present just a few of their stories. These firms revisited the basic notion of the "document" and adopted an approach that distinguishes the information they create from the forms in which it is delivered. They developed tools and techniques to change their growing masses of documents into rich information assets that can be as efficiently manipulated by computers for mechanical, production-types of tasks, as they can by humans for creative and analytical-types of tasks. They have done this by taking advantage of the International Standard known as the Standard Generalized Markup Language, or as it is more commonly known, SGML.

Who is this book for?

This book is for executives and managers, in particular those who wonder why, after all the investments they've made in computer systems, they always seem to spend still more money whenever they want to do something new with their published information. It is for anyone who wants to improve their company's ability to manage and use efficiently the ever-growing body of document-based information available to them.

How will the audience benefit from this book?

They will see companies like theirs solving problems that they recognize as being like their own -- or that they discover they too share as they read. They will recognize in the case studies opportunities for their own companies to improve the quality, accuracy and timeliness of the information they produce.

The book will help them:

Five key points about the book: