Reed Business Information

As a subsidiary of Reed Elsevier, Reed Business Information (RBI) provides business professionals across five continents unrivaled access to a wide range of communication and information channels. With offerings from magazines to directories, conferences to market research, RBI’s main objective is to become the undeniable reference in key business sectors across a diverse range of industries.

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The Challenge

RBI France was laboring under challenging content transformation and production processes. This is a major issue in the publishing industry, where content is a company’s greatest asset. RBI France was already familiar with the power of XML to tag and index content, but reusing this content often proved difficult. It was tethered to a SQLServer database as its content repository for its magazine content. This meant that content slated for reuse had to be exported to XML, reprocessed for publishing, and then exported out of XML again for re-storage in the database. This laborious process was time-consuming, increased the possibility of transcription errors, and difficult to manage.

Although the company’s main technical challenge was transforming content back and forth from XML, its solution requirements did not end at an XML database. It needed an enterprise-ready content management system (CMS) leveraging a single centralized XML repository as the main content source for all publishing operations. This required the potential CMS to have workflow functionality that sped and eased production and content management of the French publisher’s books, magazines, websites, applications, and partner offerings. RBI France also needed a system compatible with Adobe Framemaker, InDesign, and other design tools favored by its editors. Finally, the company sought a long-term partnership with a database provider that would mutually beneficial.

The Solution

RBI France turned to one of its trusted local IT solution providers, 4Dconcept, who provided critical knowledge in multi-channel publication for the press and publishing industries. After learning to integrate MarkLogic in a matter of weeks, 4Dconcept managed the 6-month pilot program and set the foundation for the company’s future editorial CMS. This solution, called XMS, would drive the production of other RBI France content. XMS placed no limitations on content structure, meaning content could be tagged and indexed efficiently — regardless of format. Suddenly, RBI France could repurpose content without the constraint of media type. Changes anywhere, even to a single word in a single story, could automatically be reflected in all citations. The content lived in XML without needless transformations, ensuring it was more accurate, processed more quickly, and always up-to-date.

After the pilot project was completed, RBI France conducted three to four months of analysis to measure its success. The process yielded some best practices to optimize the massive rollout of XMS across the organization. As a result, RBI France was able to reverse its original production process of new content from web to print, versus print to web. Changing this workflow allowed editors to publish in XML without media constraints, launch new materials on the web in seconds, and provide new value-added services for customers and partners.

At the time, there were not a lot of full XML databases on the market from which to choose. But MarkLogic has proven itself to be one of the best – certainly superior to Oracle or other relational databases in serving the unique requirements of repurposing XML content into new custom services.

Sébastien Chelin, Director of Information Systems, Reed Business Information France


RBI France’s investment in XMS paid off. Streamlined production allowed the company to repurpose and repackage its digital content for more valuable offerings to its partners. Because innovative products could now be introduced more easily and less expensively –internal or external– RBI France was able to provide a new service including dynamically updated custom content. In fact, one of its major customers was able to rapidly produce a new audit guide on its own website, completely powered by RBI content.

The official introduction of XMS to the market occurred in October 2008 in Paris. RBI France, 4Dconcept, and MarkLogic continue to partner for ongoing development and evolution of XMS.

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