Case Studies

Tax Analysts Case Study

Founded in 1970 as a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a level playing field for all taxpayers, today Tax Analysts is the only independent, nonpartisan multimedia organization dedicated to fostering an open and informed debate on taxation.

As an influential provider of tax news, analysis, and commentary for the global community, its multimedia products are a daily must-read on global tax administration and policy matters for more than 150,000 tax professionals in law and accounting firms, and government agencies. Its key products include Tax Notes, Tax Notes Today, State Tax Notes, State Tax Today, Tax Notes International, and Worldwide Tax Daily, written by the industry’s largest tax-dedicated correspondent staff of more than 250 domestic and international correspondents.

Challenge

Tax Analysts has been evolving into an agile, digitally-driven organization. For more than a decade, it has committed itself to change and to ensuring a business that is customer-focused, fast-to-market and ready for the future. Ixxus works with clients like Tax Analysts, as they travel along the digital journey, developing roadmaps across people, process and technology that will give them the tools to navigate the changing landscape of publishing.

To acquire an understanding of how to support Tax Analysts in its journey, Ixxus conducted an intensive six-week Discovery process. As part of that process, Tax Analysts and Ixxus plotted a strategic roadmap that took into account Tax Analysts’ current state and future business goals.  

As a leading provider of tax news and analysis to the financial and legal industry, Tax Analysts supplies content and data daily to a global audience. Tax Analysts’ product development and content delivery was hindered by legacy technology and inefficient processes, so the organization searched for an integrated content management solution (CMS) which would allow it to break down production barriers and continue its path as a multimedia organization.  

By mapping out the end-to-end process around how Tax Analysts creates, acquires, enriches, reviews and publishes content, current challenges and pain points were identified:

  1. Barriers to content reuse

Tax Analysts wished to create greater value from their existing content by making it more discoverable and easier to reuse. This would enable faster new product development, and allow for reassembly of existing assets into specialized offerings for niche markets.

The existing legacy platform had no capability for direct reuse, and necessitated a lot of additional manual processing, formatting, transformation and creation of renditions. Allied to this, discovering relevant or useful content in the first place was difficult, and rights management information which would aid and define parameters for reuse was not supported.

  1. Complex, manual processes

Tax Analysts’ existing platform was a monolithic system which necessitated lengthy workflow processes in order to push content out to the website. Content needed to be pushed through a high number of review cycles and gateways, and the existing integrated workflows were rigid and constraining, leading to people working outside of the system and interacting with it as minimally as possible.

Despite these lengthy, complex workflows, traceability was a challenge, making it difficult to see who had interacted with an asset, see its versioning or rendition history, or even search for it effectively.

  1. Link management

Validation of links was a huge drain on productivity for Tax Analysts, who were manually maintaining the integrity of around 6 million links. This necessitated intervention throughout the editorial process, and results were still prone to human error.

In addition, Tax Analysts wanted to enable ‘deep linking’, allowing content to link to granular, low level content objects and references. This would give consumers the benefit of instant access to the specific information they were seeking. Due to the time-consuming nature of the existing manual link validation process, introducing ‘deep linking’ meant that the productivity drain would be hugely compounded.

  1. Unsupported technologies

Tax Analysts’ existing system was built upon technologies that are many years out of date (such as Lotus Notes, Word 2003 and WordStar) with no holistic management, and was held together by multiple fixes and work-arounds for day-to-day specific problems. As well as being unintuitive, inefficient and hard to work with, the disconnected nature of Tax Analysts’ system made it difficult to use the system remotely.

In addition to solving these existing pain points, Tax Analysts was also seeking tools which would transform the way it approached content, evolve its product lines and become more competitive within a fast-paced and changing industry.

In particular, Tax Analysts wanted to explore ways in which semantic enrichment and content relationship modeling and linking could bring extra value, both to internal users and to external consumers: for instance, by being able to navigate and explore content in multiple directions, surface enrichments as new features and services, and assemble product in more insightful, innovative ways.

Solution

Technologies integrated: 

Ixxus Publishing Modules

  • Collections
  • Search-based Library
  • Bulk Metadata Upload
  • Alfresco-MarkLogic Connector

In conjunction with Ixxus, an end-to-end editorial CMS was designed to immediately streamline and enable Tax Analysts’ current content processes, while supporting the organization in its future goals.

The CMS integrates Alfresco for enterprise content management, alongside MarkLogic as an XML database and RDF triple store to control and model the relationships between assets, and ElasticSearch for powerful search and discovery capabilities.

Ixxus Collections ™ for Product Assembly

Users can plan and assemble products by utilizing Ixxus Collections, an intuitive content assembly interface. Collections delivers simple drag-and-drop collation and ordering of digital content assets, alongside ‘work in progress’ previews of how the finished product will look.

By enabling the creation of ‘reuse references’ within products – the ability to repurpose an asset by linking through to the original, rather than by creating a copied asset – the CMS enables powerful content reuse while promoting a ‘One Source of Truth’ content model. Information such as author biographies and photographs are   also linked and managed alongside content, making it simple to navigate to an author and see everything they have written, or to navigate from a particular piece of content to information about the author.

Users can now easily search, filter and discover assets, and then quickly and efficiently assemble these into products. This streamlines production, reduces time-to-market and enables the rapid collation of existing assets into new products with little to no additional processing for specialized markets.

Once products have been assembled into a content manifest, these are then pushed to MarkLogic for online consumption as web content by Drupal or to Adobe® Framemaker® for print design. This automates elements of the production process, streamlining the transition of content from creation through to publishing, while retaining the flexibility to customize the process for specific situations.

Automated Link Validation

Ixxus utilized MarkLogic RDF triples and SPARQL queries to develop a powerful link resolver service, preventing broken links from happening and eliminating the need for manual validation. The system now automatically warns users when an internal piece of linked content will be affected by a specific update, avoiding broken links, orphaned assets and content without context. This should prove both a huge time-save for Tax Analysts’ editorial teams, who will be free to utilise their time more productively, and a huge improvement to the consistency and quality of content for consumers.

’Deep linking’ of content is central to Tax Analysts’ value-differentiating future digital strategy, and by automating validation Ixxus has created an essential tool which keeps Tax Analysts’ network of millions of links up-to-date, accurate and scalable.  



‘Deep Linking’ of Content

The CMS emphasizes content enrichment and content linking, creating ways for both internal users and external consumers to navigate and discover Tax Analysts’ content more intelligently. By utilizing MarkLogic’s powerful RDF triple-store, content relationships can be managed at a granular level, enabling ‘deep linking’. For example, users can refer directly to a paragraph, table cell, graph – rather than being limited to linking document-to-document. This ‘deep linking’ – aided by Ixxus’ automated link validation tool – makes search and discovery more rapid, intelligent and intuitive. This helps consumers to find exactly what they’re looking for, and vastly reduces production time for authors and editors.

Once you begin linking things by their relationships and relevance, this not only gives powerful new insight into your own content, it also drives the creation of new services and revenue opportunities. The creation potential for content linking as a revenue-driver and innovator is enormous, and is only beginning to be explored by the team, who plan to continue to evolve this web platform in order to leverage these content relationships to the fullest.

Networks of Knowledge: Entity Identification and Linking

The CMS integrates RDFaCE – a content editor based on TinyMCE designed to facilitate semantic authoring, editing and annotating – allowing Tax Analysts users to edit documents and mark-up specific entities (such as organizations, names, citations, reports, etc) in-line. Marked-up entities are managed as discrete objects, creating a dynamic network of knowledge that can be navigated via content hyperlinks.

Tax Analysts’ internal database of people has also been integrated into the knowledge network, delivering a rich source of information: for example, reports and legislation a particular person has authored, organizations an author has been affiliated with, places a report has been cited, legislation impacted by a particular tax code, etc. This content-to-content linking shows where and how entities are related, giving Tax Analysts’ customers access to a wealth of knowledge and helping them find the answers they are looking for.

Results

The CMS is now being used within Tax Analysts’ editorial and production team, and is planned for wider roll-out across the team and then across the wider organization.

As well as fulfilling Tax Analysts’ immediate content and editorial requirements, the CMS also provides a platform which will enable Tax Analysts to achieve its desired future state and support its ability to compete in a fast-paced and fluctuating industry.

The new CMS has delivered functionality which will enable Tax Analysts to:

  • Rapidly assemble existing assets into new products, either to serve specialized markets or to create new audiences and new services
  • Be a near real-time publisher, so that content can be pushed quickly to their website
  • Enrich content in new and better ways through value-adding activities, which can then be exposed through the web platform as new features for consumers
  • Explore new revenue opportunities through making its own taxonomies and knowledge models available

Working together, Ixxus and Tax Analysts have developed a new CMS platform for true innovation; the major focus of which is around content linking, semantic enrichment and further value-add activities.

Key to this change is the use of flexible, adaptable technology. By integrating interoperable technologies built upon open standards, Ixxus has created a solution which will be able to change and evolve over time. Tax Analysts will no longer be constrained by its systems, but instead will benefit from a solution underpinned by real business needs which can grow and change as they do.

As well as supporting the ability to rapidly repurpose existing assets to create new products, the editorial CMS also opens up a number of other new revenue opportunities.

Content enrichment and metadata is retained and persisted even after content is pushed out to delivery platforms, and can then be exposed to deliver new services to the consumer.

Tax Analysts wishes to continue to differentiate itself by adding extra value to the content it makes available, including by enabling ‘Point in Time’ view for regulations and legislation. Users will be able to choose to view a particular piece of law as it existed at a particular time, and how it was affected by later amendments, repeals and citations. 

Tax Analysts is also currently exploring revenue opportunities around its knowledge model itself, which represents a valuable ontology of tax-related knowledge the likes of which does not currently exist in the marketplace. By exposing, supporting and enriching this ontology, the CMS enables Tax Analysts to maximize the value of its most important asset: its knowledge.

“Ixxus has helped Tax Analysts solve business technology challenges in ways that will enable Tax Analysts to rapidly adapt to changing business needs and increase the value that we bring to our customers,” said Michael Berkeley, CTO of Tax Analysts.

 

Date Published : 04th of May 2017