(un)structured

Josh Payne on content analytics, enterprise content and information management

What is Master Content?

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Earlier in Google’s life as the key access point for public information, I’d pop open the now familiar search page, run a query and click on the first result to find a page with the information for which I was looking. But frequently, I’d be forced to take pause. More often than not, I’d say to myself “well, the information is here, but who is this person that put it up? I’ve never heard of them. Why should I trust this seemingly random webpage?”

As both the internet and Google matured, this problem of trust has been increasingly addressed. In part, I’ve developed a better sense of what to trust, but more critically Google has improved their search result delivery to take into account the trustworthiness and quality of the source. It’s no coincidence that wikipedia is almost always near the top of Google’s search results for a variety of queries. Google trusts wikipedia.

The same idea applies within the walls of your entprise. In large organizations, different departments andagencies have varying levels of thoroughness and quality associated to their business processes and by extension their content. I experience this every day – I work at IBM, a company of 300,000 prolific content creators.

Lets say you work at a bank and a customer has made an inquiry about their account — they want to execute a major transaction with you and you need to make a decision on whether to approve the transaction. If I’m looking for information about that particular customer, I need to know that I can trust the information I find. Is it timely or out of date? Who created it?  Were the right controls in place when it was created?  Did the right employees review it? Has it been processed completely?  Has the lifecycle of this document been managed properly? Should it have been disposed of already?

When you are trying to make a decision about a particular customer — you need to focus on the information you can trust — ideally the master data and the associated trusted content. This trusted content that informs your view of your customer or other entity is “master content.”  Master content is not only a collection of federated content sources from different departments, but also the high quality, authoritative, timely content from across your organization.  It is more than a comprehensive catalog because some level of perspective has been brought to ensure that master content is has been filtered out from the vast volumes of content your organization has created, likely stored in many, many different enterprise content repositories in many, many different departments.

Master content is the information your organization should be staking your daily decisions upon — without worrying about the lineage and reliability of the originating author.  The decision makers are more efficient — and better informed — when master content is accessible and delivered, ideally as part of a complete single view.

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Written by Josh Payne

January 14, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Posted in Master Content

2 Responses

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  1. […] three part series exploring master content. Part one explored the business need. Part two explored the definition of master content […]

  2. […] When discussing ‘trusted content’, I used the example of how Google trusts some sources over others. At the time, I didn’t have a source for this assertion. Levy describes this in some detail […]


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