You know your archives are pure gold. You’ve got years’ worth of evergreen content squirreled away on servers and back-up drives and your audience is just dying to pay for access. But the mere thought of figuring out how to deliver all that information leaves you cold. And as for adding value…

“Publishers can really be held back by their understanding of the split between content and delivery,” says Adrian Carr, Vice President, Worldwide Commercial Sales at MarkLogic.

He describes MarkLogic’s NoSQL database platform as a way for publishers to separate content from delivery and free up the ‘creative Juices’, helping people to conceive of new products or new markets without the burden of a protracted development process.

“We want publishers to be able to say to their IT people, ‘If only I had X I could sell it’, and the IT people to answer, ‘OK you’ve got it’. We want IT to be a facilitator, an enabler, not a blocker,” says Carr.

He readily acknowledges the value of archive content: “Think about the BBC archives, 30 years or Doctor Who, imagine how valuable that is.” But he really wants publishers to see that bringing together different types of content is where the real opportunity lies. “It’s the combination of content types where value gets added,” he says.

One way to enrich archive content is the addition of open data from third-party sources. Carr mentions an Italian publisher with 10-years’ worth of information on growing olives in Southern Italy. He says there’s real value in the historic data, but imagines how powerful it is combined with weather analysis, for example. “Older publishers aren’t looking at open data, they’re missing the opportunity to enrich their own content,” says Carr.

The integration of archive content with news alerts also creates the opportunity for enhanced value, so long as content is instantly accessible and fully searchable. “This type of timely content is all about speed,” Carr says, referencing Dow Jones use of MarkLogic technology in itsFactiva product suite. With Factiva, MarkLogic supports near-instantaneous alerting on customer-selected topics with content drawn from 36,000 publications plus ‘real-time’ streams like Twitter commentary, blogs, YouTube and message boards.

An obvious opportunity for adding value comes from combining the content stores of publishing companies brought together by merger or acquisition. “One plus one can be made to equal three or maybe more,” Carr says. ”And the more quickly content can be enriched – added to, searched – the quicker the acquisition can be accreted and the quicker value can be realised.”

But bringing together content from two businesses, originated and held in different ways, sounds like exactly the kind of project that brings IT departments out in a cold sweat.

“We don’t need to know what the data looks like, we don’t need to go through a lengthy planning exercise before loading, there’s no need for scoping or data forecasting,” says Carr. “We say give us some data and in five to 10 days we’ll show you it searchable in our database. We had a trading data store application that brought together 20 databases live in 5 months.”

MarkLogic can store content or just metadata, allowing publishers complete flexibility in how they manage their content. “The BBC’s iPlayer sits on a bespoke video database that handles all sorts of functionality. MarkLogic houses the metadata that makes that content accessible,” explains Carr.

This creates opportunities to serve multiple markets using the same content, with content packages built on the fly based on searches. The Royal Society of Chemistry uses MarkLogic to serve chemistry information to PhD chemists and GCSE students. “This is the same content but delivered differently,” says Carr

For Carr, content is more valuable the more findable it is and the MarkLogic database includes a built in search engine; content ‘ingested’ is immediately searchable, with the advanced text search indexing content in the same way that Google does. MarkLogic also delivers semantic searching that allows the database to make inferences based on facts about content stored in the metadata. For example, a recipe database knows that a Frankfurter is a sausage and not someone who lives in the German city. “Real world facts improve discoverability, relevance, stickiness,” says Carr.

In the press information for MarkLogic 8, released in February 2015, says it helps ‘operationalize heterogeneous data’. What that means for publishers is to help them dig archive content out of the backroom and create integrated content packages that audiences can really use. “Adding value is about more than making content look nice, or even searchable, it’s about the creation of tools that help the audience make their own connections,” Carr says.


Image courtesy of Michael Stern via Flickr used under a Creative Commons License.