Canadian e-content sector to see growth: report

Canada’s e-content industry is primed to experience double-digit growth in the near future, according to an industry report.

The report, released Tuesday by the Toronto-based E-Content Institute, details numerous factors that should contribute to rapid expansion in the sector.

The report cited statistics from the independent U.S. firm Ovum Research that the global software market for the management, exploitation and distribution of information will grow from US$15 billion in 2001 to US$25 billion in 2005.

Entitled “e-content at the Crossroads: What’s Now, What’s New”, the report finds that widespread adoption of the Internet has shaped Canada’s tech infrastructure and fuelled a demand for e-content. According to the report, both internal and external e-content resources are fast becoming a regular part of enterprise business processes.

The key challenge for the e-content sector is to clarify the return on investment, said David Shinwell, spokesperson for the E-content Institute in Toronto. Shinwell said that customers are ready to buy it and companies are willing to invest in it, especially for internal use.

The E-Content Institute is a learning and networking forum – comprised of organizations that provide knowledge and e-business software and information products for Canadian enterprise customers, Shinwell said.

“It’s really a matter of these enterprises being able to understand the value of e-content and being able to calculate the ROI,” Shinwell said.

“Once that’s done, the e-content that is used in enterprises will explode.”

Shinwell said a simplified standard for content systems and information services is imperative for widespread enterprise use. The report found customers are demanding easier ways to extract meaning from raw content and that flexibility is key for content, cost and contracts.

“The conclusion that came out of the report is that the Canadian enterprise is ready to exploit e-content. We also found the knowledge workers were starting to appreciate the value of the e-content. A lot of them were using rudimentary e-content tools from the Internet like Google and starting to use e-content that they can get through the Web,” Shinwell said.

Widespread Internet adoption and increased digital subscriber line (DSL) market penetration are precursors for the adoption of multimedia and rich media content-oriented applications, said Noreen Towns, analyst and national director of sales and marketing at the consulting firm Yankee Group (Canada) in Kanata, Ont.

“Rich media contact is going to be a lot more interesting to people than just content per se. E-content is starting to be used intensely by enterprises,” Towns said. ” Large enterprises today have the level of sophistication and planning through participation by CIOs and CTOs at the executive level.”

There is a greater awareness today that management of e-content and e-based system is both a competitive and cost-saving advantage, Towns said. This awareness is driving enterprises to explore how they can increase the organization of e-content.

“(For example), if you look at organizations today and what’s happening in terms of corporate training, the requirement for ongoing training and access to information by all employees is intense. At the same time corporations are striving to limit the travel budget,” Towns said.

“The cost of travel for training, the time involved in travelling for training, and the reluctance of people to travel (due to Sept. 11) – you look at the enormous amount of e-content that is being produced today and will be produced for training purposes and you can start to appreciate a huge market opportunity for e-content.”

The E-Content Institute in Toronto is at