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RSS for companies

You probably are using RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds today to discover what is new on a site or a blog. But RSS technology, like blogs, can be used by companies in various situations. RSS feeds can be used internally or externally to improve business processes, as reports the editorial of the latest issue of CIO Magazine. This article gives some details about how real companies use RSS to complement — or even replace — their e-mail systems. Some are using RSS feeds to increase employee satisfaction or to improve the way they provide information to their customers. Still, deployments are not so easy and require some hard customization work. But read more…

For those of you who want to refresh their memory about what RSS means (Really Simple Syndication? Rich Site Summary? RDF Site Summary?), I suggest you read this Wikipedia article which will tell you what you need to know about the various ’standards’ — or implementations — of RSS.

Let’s start with a first example of how RSS can be used inside a company.

Ross Szalay, IS director for the law firm Dykema, took the internal approach to turbocharge the firm’s ability to monitor current cases. For example, an attorney in charge of a specific client account gets a regular feed of all specific efforts undertaken by other attorneys for the client, so there’s a unified view of the services the client is getting — and needs to be billed for.

But RSS feeds also can be used to provide critical information to customers.

At Jets International, which provides a matching service between private-plane operators with unused seating capacity and executives who need a flight, the emphasis of RSS is external, to keep suppliers and customers up to date on available flights and customer requests, according to Nate McKelvey, who serves as both CEO and CIO of the company. Plane operators have a custom RSS reader that keeps them updated on customer requests that match the available seating.

If these deployments are useful and successful, don’t underestimate the amount of work needed to create a real world business application.

Because it isn’t yet clear how RSS will be used and where, CIOs are finding that they need to do a fair amount of custom configuring of the few tools available to meet their particular organizations’ needs.

In McKelvey’s case, he had to write a custom reader for his 350 suppliers of seats on private planes because it would have been too difficult, he judged, for his suppliers to configure a generic RSS reader themselves. The complex configuration has caused him to hold off on delivering RSS feeds to the company’s several thousand customers: “I’ll deploy it to them when there’s no configuration to support,” he says.

And how can you evaluate the ROI of such RSS-based tools? It’s not always easy, because they just provide easier ways to manage information. But every employee or customer will benefit from these tools, which don’t cost that much. “Dykema’s Szalay agrees the cost is small, in the low tens of thousands of dollars.”

Are you ready to build new business applications based on RSS technology? Have you already deployed successful ones? Drop me a note.

Sources: Galen Gruman, for CIO Magazine, September 1, 2006; and BT Business blog

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One Response to “RSS for companies”

  1. Sophie kune Says:

    Merci pour cet article très interessant et très bien documenté qui me permet d’enrichir mes connaissances.

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Roland Piquepaille
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