The Emojo Workout:
Hot Content Management

     ( Technology from Harrod's Creek Stephen E. Arnold. Submitted,
January 10, 2002)

The Royal Opera House has its "mojo workin'". The ballerinas are not dancing to a hot new tune. The ROH's Web site is shaking and baking with Emojo, a zesty mix of content management, dynamic Web pages, and syndication tools.

Emojo, to borrow from the music industry's lingo, is "working its way up the charts." Clients range from healthcare to financial services to governmental entities across Europe.

Emojo is a content management software company that has landed major accounts in Iceland, Germany, the U.K., and several other countries.

A good example of the Emojo Affino system in action is Content Wire. The site is a news and research service focusing on the content management software industry. Users can access content on the public site. The company also offers a password protected for-fee service. A single Emojo system supports the editorial production, subscription and financial functions, discussion fora, and e-mail marketing services.

Each of these functions was implemented by a small staff with little (or no) programming expertise pointing and clicking choices offered on the Affino interface. The Affino software generated the Web pages, established and validated links, and interacts with what the company calls a "permissions based rapid publishing system.

Says Markus Karlsson, the company's founder, "We did one Web site in 24 hours. I personally don't suggest this, but it is hard proof of how different we are from some content management software companies. With some high profile content management software, a systems engineer may install one module in one day."

Mr. Karlsson is a walking advertisement for the virtues of growing up breathing Iceland's clean air and drinking its crystal water.

His firm was originally called "Internet Business Development Agency." Mr. Karlsson adds, "But I never thought of my software as specific to the Internet. We are a productivity and process management company. We are a software / technology development agency, although we use the positioning line 'action anywhere'

Unlike many Internet companies, Mr. Karlsson has found a niche where the economic downturn has had modest impact--content management that is affordable and easy-to-use.

His company has expanded in 2001 to more than 50 "users" with a user an organization such as MasterCard and Alternative Medical Centre) plus resellers in Europe. Mr Karlsson says, "We expect to have a major announcement about the availability of our products and services in the U.S. before the middle of 2002."

"Our software automatically handles much of the housekeeping that adds so much time and cost to some content management systems, says Mr. Karlsson. "When customization is required, our software engineers can modify a specific module without affecting any other Affino user."

The Emojo product is one of a new breed of content management solutions. Clients have distinct choices about how to implement the basic software and the types of functions needed for a specific application. Instead of creating a content management from the ground up, Emojo's Affino is a wrapper that uses Allaire's Cold Fusion for what Mr. Karlsson calls the "substructure" of Affino.

The company supports an Application Service Provider model. In this approach The Emojo software is available as a service running on Mr. Karlsson's or his partners' servers. Customers pay a start up fee and a monthly fee that covers the Cold Fusion and Affino software and hosting charges.

Customers using this approach interact with the various content management modules via a Web browser interface. "There is more and more interest in this type of service provider approach," says Mr. Karlsson. "Many organizations have an information technology department, but the cost and time required to duplicate what we offer as a 7x24 service is hard to justify in terms of costs."

Emojo's other approach is for customers who want to control the Affino software themselves. Emojo provides its software in shrink wrapped packages in three versions.

Affino Intro includes basic content management, Web building, link management, security, online forms, and a number of other ready-to-use features such as full support for multimedia objects and their management.

The Affino Promo pack includes an enhanced survey functionality, a tool for building and maintaining FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions), newsletters, and an online presentation component. The Promo pack allows a marketing organization to create and manage a wide range of online sales and promotional campaigns, statistical reports, and rapid turnaround for special promotions.

The Affino Syncro pack adds additional messaging functions, including chat and conferencing, a forum (real time discussion group) management tools, and an advertising component with an e commerce module on the release schedule for 2002.

Each module has the productivity functionality Productivity is something that makes Mr. Karlsson's Icelandic blood pulse with Emojo beat. "When I was seven years old, I worked in the local fish processing plant like everyone in my family. I learned how important it was to do work quickly and correctly the first time. I am obsessed with making people productive and the work move fast and making its almost impossible to do wrong. The consequences of a mistake were too unpleasant when one is working outside in the winter."

Affino's price point begins at about 2,000. Only a handful of firms such as the U.S. firm Ektron Inc. eMPower 3.5 are in this range. Affino's pricing contrasts sharply with the often lofty fees for the products from such firms as Documentum, Percussion, and BroadVision.

"I want to see content management software become more realistically price," says Mr. Karlsson, the 200,000 to 1,000,000 packages are out of reach for the vast majority of organizations that want to manage their content."

The differences between Emojo and a content management system from Vignette, Interwoven or Stellent are both technical and conceptual.

On the technical side, Emojo provides a fast-cycle work environment that is technically agnostic. Says Mr. Karlsson, "We use XML [Extensible Markup Language]. We use some Java. We use the Microsoft tools that make sense. Our approach is to create easily maintained, fast executing, and bulletproof components. We avoid saying that we will only use a particular technology. We use what we know works for our clients."

Emojo's engineers create what they call "information objects." Our client -- for example, MasterCard Europe -- accesses these virtual objects from the Emojo software," says Mr. Karlsson. "The MasterCard staff use these virtual objects how and where they wish. If we need to add functionality or change a behavior, these changes are invisible to the Affino user and happen behind the scenes. We have one of the few content management systems whose functionality can be continually enhanced without breaking any client system."

Another feature of Emojo's information objects is that they discover relationships. Says Mr. Karlsson, "Affino knows that a particular content object is available to paying subscribers or to a user with a particular security clearance. When a user logs in with a particular attribute, that content becomes available to that user. We have built these automatic discovery functions into our system so that Affino users can focus on their job, not learning about indexing, security tags, and moving data from one queue to another. Once an authorized user establishes a relationship, Affino uses that relationship in ways that speed the user's productivity.

Emojo's most interesting innovation is a functional called "inherent syndication." According to Mr. Karlsson, "If a large company has many Web sites, Affino can be used to give all of them the functions, features, even look and feel necessary for the many different constituencies. Our syndication function allows content from these distinct Web sites to be viewed and distributed as one syndicated content stream. This means that a series of government agencies can use Affino to publish health-related or any other type of information to other sites; for example, health information to local clinics or even specific schools."

The Bad Oeynhausen Web sites are a good illustration of the power and flexibility of Affino, implemented under the the Welldoowebware brand. Bad Oeynhausen's medical complex comprises four medical centres, four specialist institutes and a blood bank. The site includes a search engine, an international events calendar, a wide range of static and dynamic information as well as and the centre's own art exhibition. The design on for Bad Oeynhausen site was by Welldoo limited, an Emojo partner. Emojo then carried out the technical implementation of the project. (Welldoo is a web services company with operations in the u.k., france, and germany.)

On the conceptual side, Emojo is designed to get the work done quickly and easily. "Too many of the content management systems take days or weeks of learning. Emojo's Affino can be used as soon as the software is installed or the account activated.

If a person can use a browser, the Emojo system is there ready for use. Online for fee usage tracking. Click. Bang. The function is ready to go. Our software maps the content to the subscription system to the particular link."

Emojo Limited faces a number of challenges. Like any fast-growing company, many decisions must be made quickly in order to maintain momentum. The content management arena is intensely competitive with fierce price cutting eroding the margins of many companies in the segment. Finally, the need to invest in new software and technology can consume prodigious amounts of cash. Emojo must continue to perform at a high level to maintain its trajectory.

Emojo's software is stretching the boundaries of content management. When asked about the future of Emojo, the polished Mr. Karlsson said, "Information plus communications plus analysis equal knowledge management." Emojo's path, then, is "CM to KM," adding another beat to Emojo's Affino.

 

Emojo Limited
80 Mortimer Street
London W 1 W 7 S D
voice: 020 7291 1070
Web:www.Emojo.com

 

Web sites mentioned in this column:

Alternative Medicine Centre, www.alternativemedicinecentre.com
Bad Oyenhausen,www.hdz-nrw.de
BroadVision,www.broadvision.com
Content Wire,www.content-wire.com
Documentum, www.documentum.com
Ektron, www.ektron.com
FileNet,www.filenet.com
Interwoven,www.interwoven.com
Macromedia,www.allaire.com
Royal Opera House,www.royalopera.com
Stellent, www.stellent.com
Welldoo, www.welldoo.com

 

Stephen E. Arnold
Arnold Information Technologies
Postal Box 320
Harrod's Creek, Kentucky 40027
Voice: 502 228 1966
E mail: sa@arnoldit.com
Web site: http://www.arnoldit.com

 


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