I’ve been speaking a lot about content services of late. At TeraThink, we are a big believer that good content services are a solid foundation for excellent user experience. This is why I’ve been focused on dispelling some of the hype around content services. One of the reasons I, and TeraThink, have been trying to push past the hype is because we are actively using content services to deliver solutions at scale.
Along the way, we’ve been trying to share some of our lessons. James Fintel shared what we’ve learned about building content services agilely using Kanban. What I wanted to share was some of our lessons on the delivery of content services to a government agency.
Here at Terathink, we are working with a large government agency constructing a content services platform. This platform allows content generated by benefit applications to be shared and reused across the organization’s disparate IT applications. We are doing this through the use of application programming interfaces, or APIs.
Our agile development team manages our work using a Kanban approach, from requirements gathering to the deployment of the API to a production environment. We have honed our use of Kanban to most effectively manage the work required to take a user request to functional reality.
I’ve been seeing an uptick in interest in digital preservation recently. We are a few decades into the digital age and even without the push to digitally transform everything, people are realizing that they have a lot of digital information. I am surrounded by people who are using a digital records system I put in place over a decade ago. This puts that system into the realm of digital preservation. As per AIIM in their 2017 Digital Preservation Market Research:
The capabilities to ensure the readability and usability of digital information that must be retained for longer than 10 years.
I used to think ten years was a long time. It isn’t. People are also realizing that while storing large volumes of electronic documents is easier than paper, you have to take greater care. I have books that are older than 100 years in my house. The only accessible, viable, digital content I have over 25 years old are some music compact discs.
As we create more and more digital information, we need to start thinking more about long-term preservation.
In 2014, the White House issued a Presidential Memorandum on Modernizing and Streamlining the U.S. Immigrant Visa System for the 21st Century. It called for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State (DoS) to streamline and improve the legal immigration system. Specifically, it spells out the need to :
Modernize the information technology infrastructure underlying the visa processing system with the goal to reduce redundant systems, improve the experience of applicants, and enable better oversight.
As part of our ongoing support of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), TeraThink was engaged to implement a digital solution to automate USCIS’ implementation. The solution required integration not only with USCIS’ own internal modernization program, but also that of other Federal agencies. We took an API first approach, using MuleSoft to orchestrate all the interactions between the different players. The end result was a successful launch and the creation of a new content services foundation for USCIS.
In an earlier blog, I wrote about a couple of takeaways regarding improvements to the ServiceNow platform from our trip to Knowledge18, Those weren’t the only key takeaways from ServiceNow’s annual conference. There was a lot of focus on improving the user experience for both the producers and consumers of ServiceNow’s features and value. Having seen many projects succeed or fail based not upon features but upon user experience, this was exciting to see.
In May, my colleagues and I attended ServiceNow’s annual conference, Knowledge18. We joined over 18,000 attendees in Las Vegas to meet, learn, share, and collaborate on all things ServiceNow. They presented a wide range of valuable content spanning all aspects of the platform. This ranged from in-depth solution-focused sessions, to industry-based workshops, to a roadmap of functionality coming to the platform.
Two of my takeaways from the conference centered on the platform improvement and their increased focus on the customer.
Last month I had the pleasure of going to San Antonio for the 2018 AIIM Conference. As always, AIIM hosted some great conversations and informative presentations. Some of the discussions focused around emerging technologies in the information space, blockchain, and artificial intelligence.
Lots of new technology were discussed in a panel run by Alan Pelz-Sharpe. He and his panelists; Andrea Chiappe, Kashyap Kompella, and Dan Abdul; broke the technologies down and how they impact the world of information management. Alan noted that during his preconference session, a surprising number of people were already very familiar with these new technologies. That is a refreshing realization. Broad understanding in the industry is critical towards creating practical applications with any new technology.
Microservices is the latest architectural approach to scaling applications. Their smaller, more atomic size, allows for greater agility as the impact of each iteration is more contained. This makes continuous integration and development easier as the burden of testing is less and deployment iterations are more limited in scope.
As we look to utilize Mule, and other systems, in this environment, we need to make sure that their configurations can automatically reflect their environment. As we build applications at scale and move out of the development lab, this becomes a real need. Luckily, the Spring Cloud Configuration server lets us do exactly that.
A few weeks back, I spoke on an Information Coalition webinar with Nick Inglis about getting Beyond the Hype of Content Services. We discussed content services and tried to separate the reality from the hype. If you been following, there is a lot of hype out there and has been since Gartner stopped tracking ECM (enterprise content management) and switched to content services. This has fed people’s instinct to equate content services with ECM. Many vendors and consultants are now taking their marketing messaging and simply substituting one term for the other. Even more distracting are people that reflexively reject content services because they assume the person using the term is just doing a term swap.
The truth is that content services is not ECM. It is an approach to implementing solutions that support an ECM strategy and providing sound information governance. Content services doesn’t eliminate the need for an ECM strategy or information governance. In fact, if you don’t have a strategy or proper governance, you might end up addressing the wrong things.
You still need a plan. To determine how to implement it, you need to know what content services is and how it can make a difference.
Recently, TeraThink attended CGI’s tenth annual Momentum Ideas Day. This year it took place at the Fairview Park Marriott in Falls Church, VA. In addition to the excellent catering (breakfast, lunch, snacks, coffee, the list goes on and on!) provided throughout the day, there was a lot to learn at this year’s event!
CGI’s Momentum is a full-featured financial and accounting ERP solution focused for the Federal government. Ideas Day allows Momentum users and stakeholders to learn more about the latest Momentum releases. Together, attendees are able to collaboratively discuss existing ideas and brainstorm new ideas for future Momentum enhancements. The day was broken out into multiple sessions to explore various subject areas. Several of my fellow TeraThink colleagues were there so we could attend the varied sessions to gain insight into upcoming Momentum enhancements.