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SGML: The Billion Dollar Secret

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SGML: The Billion Dollar Secret


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  • Copyright 1997
  • Dimensions: 6" x 9-1/4"
  • Pages: 240
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-226705-5
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-226705-2


Dramatically improve the way you manage information—and save a fortune!

There's a black hole sitting quietly at the heart of your business, devouring money and resources. You spend a fortune developing documents. . . and then you do it all over again whenever products change, new markets or new media emerge. What's worse, even after you“ve spent all that money, the information's almost never there when you need it!

SGML is the solution. SGML: The Billion Dollar Secret shows you exactly how SGML can help you take control over your documents—and more importantly, take control of the information in those documents. You'll learn how companies like Mobil Oil, United Technologies, Sybase and Grolier are using SGML to:

  • Organize information so it's always there when needed
  • Deliver information in print, on CD-ROM and over the World Wide Web efficiently and cost-effectively
  • Reuse content instantly, without retyping, reformatting, and reworking
  • Improve customer service and product support
  • Make sure everyone's always working from current information
  • Improve response time to bids and new business opportunities.

Through case studies, you'll learn how other world-class companies evaluated their existing document production systems, identifying costs that SGML could eliminate—and discovering business opportunities it could make possible. You will learn how those companies managed their migration to SGML—for example, how they incorporated their existing word processing software into their SGML applications, or how they choose the appropriate SGML systems. And you will find guidelines on how you can do the same at your company! As a businessperson, you wouldn't stand for a transaction processing system that worked as poorly as the systems most companies use to manage their documents. Yet your corporate information resources are equally critical to your long-term success. It's time to solve the problem. SGML: The Billion Dollar Secret shows you how.

Sample Content

Table of Contents



Introduction: A Book For Executives.

Why 'the Billion Dollar Secret'? How the Book Is Organized. Acknowledgments.

1.  The Cottage Industry.

Right Under Your Nose. Document-Based Information. Is Crucial to Your Company. The Productivity Dilemma with Documents. Writing Document-Based Information: The New Cottage Industry. Computers Can Perform Miracles. When They Have the Right Data. Today's 'Documents' Are Not 'Data'. From Documents to Information: Enter SGML, the Standard Generalized Markup Language.

2.  Building Cutting-Edge Information.

Products from Documents. Why It Doesn't Work Today. Taking On a Business Challenge. Electronic Documents. The Publishing Panacea? The Lessons of the Prototype. TIMS Gets Real. Getting to the Source of the Matter. The Trouble with Text. The 101st-Page Paradox. What Went Wrong?

3.  Grolier, Incorporated.

The Original Database: Grolier, Incorporated. The Business Challenge. Publishing the 'Original Database'. More Than a Hardware Problem. Understanding the Process and Defining the Objectives. Why SGML? Taking the Objectives to the Manufacturers. Converting 27,000 Pages to SGML. Implementing the System. The Payoff.

4.   Sybase, Incorporated.

The Saga of Sybooks: Sybase, Incorporated. The Business Challenge. A Corporate Commitment to Standards. Changing the Way Information Is Delivered. A Rainbow of Online Publishing Solutions. The Solution Is in the Data. Building a New System. Step One: Seed the Field. Getting the Word Processor under Control. A New Product: SyBooks- Interactive. Documentation for Sybase Products. Step Two: Build the Environment. Understanding and Supporting. Writers' Issues. The New System. The Payoffs.

5.  United Technologies.

Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation. Building Blocks to Better Information: Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation. Twelve Weeks in the Life of a Typical Project. Looking for Solutions in All the Wrong Places. Fundamental Problems with the Process. Getting the Spin on the Right Solution. Selling It Upstairs. Picking the Solution. Why SGML? The Fine Details: How It Works. Reengineering the Organization. Supporting the Experts with Technology. Enhancing the Information's Value with Attributes. Impact on the Organization. The Payoffs. The Electronic Products of the Future- Today. Computer-Based Training Programs. Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals. Expert Diagnostic Systems. Drawing Some Conclusions.

6  Mobil Corporation.

Getting A Grip On 'Gold-Plating': Mobil Corporation. The Business Challenge. Before Technology Comes the Problem. Selling the System. Why SGML? Building EDEP, an Information- Engineering Tool. EDEP in Action. More Than Just a Reference Book. Developing a Bid Document. How SGML Makes EDEP Possible. The Payoff.

7.  The Semiconductor Industry.

Tackling the Information Explosion at Hitachi, Intel, National Semiconductor, Philips. Semiconductors, and Texas Instruments. The Business Challenge. The Trouble's in the Tools. The Beginnings of a Solution. Why SGML? The Pinnacles Initiative: Inventing a Revolution. Analyzing the Process of Producing Information. Lessons from the Masters. The Authoring Process Turns Out to Be a Mess. Turning Documents into Databases. The Benefits.

8.  SGML Initiatives in Other Industries.


9.  Lessons for Your Future:

Learning from the Case Studies. What Do the Case Studies Have in Common? All Were Championed by People Who Could See 'the Big Picture'. All Were Initiated by People Who Were Experts on Their Information. All Looked Past the Software and Focused on the Value of the Information Itself. Is This Really a Billion Dollar Secret? Is SGML Right for Your Organization? Do You Work with Key Documents? Are You Managing Your Information Content, or Its Publication? Are You Ready to Protect the Value of Your Information?


Finding Out More about SGML. Sources of Information on the Internet. Organizations Involved with SGML.



There is a black hole in most large enterprises into which money flows like a river and vital assets disappear without a trace, never to be seen again. You know that the black hole is there. It is called 'documentation' or 'in-house publishing' or 'support publications' or many similar things. The money goes for tasks like designing, writing, drafting, revising, searching, converting, formatting, and printing. Then it goes again for redoing these same tasks over and over as products change slightly, new markets emerge, or new forms of information delivery become available. The vital assets that disappear are the experience, special knowledge, and collected wisdom of your employees- the information, in a word, that makes your enterprise work and be successful. It disappears because your enterprise is spending money to produce publications, rather than managing and controlling its documentary information asset. And because you can't manage that asset: You can't respond quickly enough to new opportunities. You can't provide the service and support levels your customers demand (and deserve). You can't, in a word, become as efficient as you need to be to survive and prosper in a competitive information-based world. This is the last untamed frontier of management: real information! Not the abstracted, orderly stuff that goes into database tables, but the information in documents of all kinds that flows through your enterprise. Chet Ensign has been exploring this frontier for many years. And he has found many companies- including household names whose products you know and use- that have succeeded in taming it. These enterprises share a billion dollar secret: they use the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) to manage their documentary information. And they don't just shuffle around digitized images with long filenames and call it 'document management.' With SGML they get at the heart and soul of the information- its structure and its meaning. They get even greater control and flexibility than they have for their business transaction data. Chet brings an expert eye to this work. He has been on the inside of companies that have had- and used SGML to solve- the communication problems that complicate the coordination of projects. He is also an internationally renowned speaker on SGML, and a founder and chairperson of the SGML Forum of New York. As chair of the External Communications Committee for SGML Open, the SGML industry consortium, he has helped bring the SGML 'secret' to the world. In this book he shares that billion dollar secret with you, in the form of engaging real-life case studies, written for the non-technical business executive. You'll learn how to manage those vital assets in your own enterprise, and how to use SGML to plug the black hole, as other smart companies have done. And it literally is a 'billion dollar secret,' because SGML's cost-benefit ratio is phenomenal. Just the industries profiled in this book (and there are many, many others) have already saved over a billion dollars using SGML. Read on and Chet will show you how. Charles F. Goldfarb Saratoga, CA September, 1996


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