Shared Insights PCC: RSS in the Enterprise

My session on the changing face of BPM went pretty well, except for one guy who said that I was wrong about pretty much everything 🙂

Today finishes early, so I’m at the last breakout session, Colin White discussing using RSS in the enterprise, and the broader subject of using web syndication to deliver content to users. It’s a bit distracting because he has exactly the same English accent as someone on my wine club board; I keep looking up and expecting to see my friend Bernard (who doesn’t even know how to spell RSS) at the front of the room.

White is looking at this from an architectural rather than implementation viewpoint, and focussing on enterprise rather than internet data sources: a standardized and lightweight XML-based integration protocol. He spent an undue amount of time explaining generically what RSS feeds are and how internet syndication works in various RSS readers; is there anyone in this fairly technical portal-savvy audience who doesn’t already know all this? He then moved on to the differences between RSS and Atom and the specific tags used in an RSS feed; 30 minutes into the presentation, we still haven’t yet seen anything to do with RSS in the enterprise.

Eventually he does get to enterprise uses of RSS; no surprise, one big use is to have it integrated into a business portal, although the XML can also be consumed by various search tools, including ETL to capture the data and load it into a data warehouse or content management system — something that I hadn’t thought about previously, but can be done with tools like Microsoft Integration Services. He points out how RSS is one piece in the integration puzzle, which is essentially what I’ve been saying with respect to using RSS feeds of process execution data as one way of providing visibility into processes.

White covers the different types of feed servers: external, internal, and hosted SaaS. Interestingly, NewsGator is now in all three areas, with both an enterprise server and an on-demand solution that can aggregate and syndicate internal as well as external content, as well as their well-known external internet version. That gives a variety of ways that a feed server can fit into an enterprise environment: either an external feed server providing only the external feeds, or an internal/hosted feed server that can handle both internal and external feeds. This has the advantage of reducing network traffic, since the feed server caches the feeds, as well as providing filtering and monitoring of content that is consumed.

I’m really aware of a push to give PCC a very Enterprise 2.0 flavour; having not been at any of the previous PCC conferences, or even the first half of this one, I don’t know if this is a new bandwagon that they’re leaping on, or something that’s a logical progression of where this conference has been in the past.

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