The View From My Desk - A Letter From Mark Gross
As summer changes to fall here in New York, I find myself reflecting on the many industry changes I’ve witnessed since Data Conversion Laboratory (DCL) first opened for business in 1981. At that time, Adam Osborne introduced the first portable computer, the Osborne 1, which weighed about 25 pounds, ran the CP/M 2.2 operating system, and cost $1,899. MS-DOS was released that same year, as was the first IBM-PC.
While some code-based systems existed even then, I wasn’t predicting the rapid evolution of markup languages we've seen in the past two decades. DCL’s origin included converting systems for an accounting firm that had 160 offices. The firm was using an early ASCII-based no-code word processor called the Vydec and wanted to convert to the MEC, an early code-based word processing software. Neither word processing system exists today.
The software we developed was called MindReader because it needed to infer what the coding should have been if the editor would have known about codes. Upon reflection, we realize this was a very early implementation of artificial intelligence for structuring content. MindReader worked well and converted approximately 2,000,000 pages in 1983!
True to our name, Data Conversion Laboratory became a place to observe and advance the technology for the transformation and evolution of data and content into formats that people and machines could access. We were at the forefront of SGML conversion and continue today as the recognized expert in XML, DITA, and S1000D conversions.
Increasingly, we use artificial intelligence (machine learning and natural language processing) to solve complex data challenges that go beyond converting from one format into another. Some of our latest solutions blend the best of our experience with the latest technologies:
DCL Reformer – Automated content structure and data reassembly using computer vision, complex algorithms, NLP engines, and other techniques to transform static content into structured formats
DCL Data Harvester – High-volume data retrieval from websites with automated transforms to XML for ingestion into downstream systems
Discovery Bridge – Continuous content transforms and metadata feeds of scholarly content to discovery vendors (e.g., EBSCO, Proquest, etc.)
While our business has kept pace with significant change in technology, I’m exceedingly proud that our staff remain committed, consistent, and stable. In fact, half of our executive leadership has been together since the beginning. Nearly 37% of DCL employees have 10+ years’ experience.
I believe that you can have the best technology at your disposal but you still need knowledgeable staff to implement and interface with customers, and make things work. Indeed, our people are DCL’s greatest asset and that’s been validated this year as we went live asking for feedback via Trustpilot, the world’s most powerful review platform. DCL is currently operating with a 4.5 TrustScore (out of 5) and I am personally committed to improving that score as much as I am committed to continuous improvements in automation, technology, and pricing.
I welcome the opportunity to speak with you in the coming months to learn about any data and content challenges you face. DCL will be participating in a number of industry conferences throughout the year and I hope you can connect personally with our staff at one of these events. Please don’t hesitate to reach out… even if it’s just to say “hello.”
Data Conversion Laboratory