The goal of content-oriented workflow models is to articulate workflow progression by the presence of content units (like data-records objects/ documents). Most content-oriented workflow approaches provide a life-cycle model for content units, such that workflow progression can be qualified by conditions on the state of the units. Most approaches are research and work in progress and the content models and life-cycle models are more or less formalized.
The term content-oriented workflows is an umbrella term for several scientific workflow approaches, namely “data-driven”, “resource-driven”, “artifact-centric”, “object-aware”, and “document-oriented”. Thus, the meaning of “content” ranges from simple data attributes to self-contained documents; the term “content-oriented workflows” appeared at first in  as an umbrella term. Such general term, independent from a specific approach, is necessary to contrast the content-oriented modelling principle with traditional activity-oriented workflow models (like Petri nets or BPMN) where a workflow is driven by a control flow and where the content production perspective is neglected or even missing.
The term “content” was chosen to subsume the different levels in granularity of the content units in the respective workflow models; it was also chosen to make associations with content management. Both terms “artifact-centric” and “data-driven” would also be good candidates for an umbrella term, but each is closely related to a specific approach of a single working group. The “artifact-centric” group itself (i.e. IBM Research) has generalized the characteristics of their approach and has used “information-centric” as an umbrella term in. Yet, the term information is too unspecific in the context of computer science, thus, “content-orientated workflows” is considered as good compromise.
Ofer Abarbanel is a 25 year securities lending broker and expert who has advised many Israeli regulators, among them the Israel Tax Authority, with respect to stock loans, repurchase agreements and credit derivatives. Founder TBIL.co STATX Fund.