Tuesday 6 July 2004

Graf review on content management

The Graf review on the BBC's online offering was finally released today, after 18 months of development.

So what does it have to say about content management at the BBC? Some interesting points...

(Just notes-to-self for now, I'll come back and write about individual points later)

Page 20 of the main review: "The BBC has also employed a number of technical solutions to enable them to deliver news and information content quickly and effectively, over a number of platforms. The development of the News and Sport Content Production System (CPS) represents a signi´Čücant investment in such technical solutions, with total costs amounting to £3.8m in 2003"

A constant theme is value for money, which resonate's well with Mark Thompson's recent prouncements to make all BBC services pass a "public value test". The term "cost per unique user", "CPUU" is referred throughout, obviously meaning the cost of content production divided by number of unique users. It will be interesting to see this statistic for a lot of our content. According to page 21, CPUU for weather is 1.8 pence and Nations and Regions (excluding Northern Ireland) is 20.5 pence. It will be interesting to see if this figure changes after our CMS has finished rolling out to the English Regions sites...

Page 21 again, "the BBC is currently developing the technology to track traffic exclusively to external sites." Well I thought the /go/ system would do that, but if you say so... anyway in the CMS, adapting our external weblinks to use a system like this (or to move from one such system to another) will take about 20 seconds of XSLT coding.

And more on page 21, "links from sites or pages are not... measured across the site." Another easy peasy thing for us to do with the CMS...

Page 22, "The total costs of the launch of the
search engine (worldwide and BBC site) were £414,268, and the current running costs of the
BBC Online search tool are £476,000."

Documentum specifically gets a mention on page 24!

Page 27, "Applications developed by the BBC, such as DNA have also enabled user-generated content to
be more stimulating for the user and more efficiently managed. The current growth in web log usage also allows users to contribute richer content (e.g. to news stories) in the form of text, pictures, and audio and video clips."

Page 32: "BBC Online’s ambition to syndicate online content to other providers (for example, free and non-exclusive arrangements for commercial websites such as www.streetmap.co.uk to carry BBC news headlines), and to other devices (for example, free and non-exclusive arrangements with mobile providers to ensure position of BBC Online on WAP versions), is again, a means to drive towards 100% reach. Reach is a key means to ensure that increasing numbers of licence fee payers can derive some value from the BBC’s online services. This strategic goal does, however, risk the BBC being perceived by commercial operators as an aggressive, and unfairly advantaged competitive force. Submitters to the review also argued that the BBC’s current
inconsistent approach to linking, the prominence of BBC Online results in its search engine, and the low level of joint venture or externally commissioned projects have compounded this

Page 35 has a graph of BBC Online Expenditure, charted over the years... the division with the most expenditure is of course News with 15.5m in 2003/04, second is Nations & Regions with 11.6m and third is Factual and Learning with 10.1m.

That'll do for now, more on the technology assessment appendix tomorrow :-)