Corporations typically warehouse a wide variety of content which includes marketing and product information, customer account activity and other business and demographic statistics. Harnessing and effective deployment of this information is vital to corporate America's haste to fulfill CRM (Customer Relationship Management) needs, i.e., finding new customers and getting more business from existing customers. This content requires rapid aggregation and deployment in order to fuel corporate Internet initiatives and feed media independent information to customers and prospects via Internet Web pages and printed pages. Many printers, in response to this corporate need, have experienced a shift in their revenue mix during the past 12 months. Some are producing 25% or more of their revenues from the addition of non print related services like XML conversions and content management.

Think of XML as LiquiData. XML provides content with liquidity to fit into different types of documents of all shapes and sizes. XML was actually born out of a US Government initiative more than twenty years ago, called SGML (Standard Graphics Markup Language), with the goal of separating content from a particular form or document type. Back in the days of proprietary printing systems, the Government saw the need for platform independent content, potentially freeing them from being held hostage from overly zealous equipment makers.

Unlike SGML and its cousin HTML which are fixed format approaches, XML is a meta-language which stores encapsulated information allowing content to be passed between various computing platforms, providing true media independent content. It allows on-the-fly aggregation of specific pieces of content in response to a Web page query or need to assemble market or customer specific communications (individualized brochures, fund/account analysis, customized letters, etc.). Unlike HTML which is page specific, XML creates an application architecture which takes advantage of a server's processing speed and works with Java and other middleware to go out and grab tagged pieces of content and assemble them into an elastic layout conforming to the geography of the content's needs. In other words, XML based content provides fast rendering Web pages with individualized response which HTML cannot provide. This represents a clear value to corporations and their CRM initiatives which are fueling the need for individualized business communications.

Corporate content owners need to take advantage of XML's economies for corporate publishing. They should be prepared to translate relevant content into the meta data required of XML in order to more easily facilitate their company’s expanding content and business communications. Likewise, printers and digital service providers can seize this opportunity to add value with their existing print clients while adding an additional revenue source. Look for several vendors offering XML software solutions at Xplor in Orlando, Florida