September 12, 2012 - 6:39 AM
When I took AIIM’s ECM Master Class, one of the concepts I really didn’t understand very well at the start was ‘repurposing’ – to be honest, it seemed like a marketing buzzword. I give credit to Bob Larrivee (our instructor) and my ECM classmates for helping me to understand the concept of getting more out of your content than its single intended purpose. While repurposing may have more of a benefit in marketing, in support of product/brand awareness, it has value inside of organizations as well; particularly when you can obtain additional value from content that you have to create. Repurposing content is especially valuable when you can do it for free, and SharePoint has the tools to help us do just that.
I recently wrote a blog entry about how HarePoint’s Workflow Extensions Library for SharePoint is helping us put a copy of our Loss Control Inspection Reports in our customer websites. Originally, I wouldn’t have seen this action as repurposing, I mean these reports are meant to be distributed to our customers. Distribution might be required, but it wasn’t the reason that we put these reports in SharePoint, we did it so that we could keep track of them, and to support knowledge transfer within our company. The newfound ability to seamlessly place a copy in the customer’s site makes the report available to a wider audience at our client than simply the person who receives the “distribution” copy. Since the feature is an additional benefit of an internal process, I think it qualifies as repurposing. Now I am thinking about other subtle ways we might be able to repurpose content.
Now that we have the ability to copy/move content from our internal SharePoint farm to our Internet-facing farm, we have an easy way to repurpose content for consumption on a mobile device. I can access our internal SharePoint server from my iPad, but I have to establish a VPN connection first. That makes it difficult to connect via a link, or an option in an iOS App. If you’re trying to follow along in your head, you might see where I am heading, and you might be saying “he’s talking about duplicating content.” You might also be thinking that that has to be a bad thing. Under the circumstances, I don’t think it is.
I’m not talking about duplicating content en mass, or even duplicating individual items in total. Take the example of a Contact List in SharePoint that has something in the neighborhood of 15-20 attributes. I don’t want to duplicate that list for someone to read on an iPhone, but wouldn’t it be cool if they could quickly link to a list showing just the full name, best phone number and email address – you know, the things they can actually use on their phone. A different kind of partial duplication might involve only copying items with a certain bit of metadata set. An example here might be to only copy items that have an ‘active’ status or which have been closed within the last 60 days.
SharePoint metadata columns give us the ability to make these distinctions, and SharePoint workflows let us take advantage of those distinctions to copy List and Library items automatically. We can even wire-up the workflows in such a way as to eliminate the potential for sprawl (when status changes, items can be deleted from the outside list or library). I am willing to sacrifice a little storage space to “duplication” when that seems to be the only cost, especially since the cost of storage continues to shrink. The benefit of repurposing this content would be to improve the user experience of the employees that my department supports, and that is a goal that I am serious about achieving.
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