Reports from the Content Management Frontier

The following are excerpts from an explorer hiking the Gartner Hype Cycle for Enterprise Content Management (ECM) technologies.

Day 1, Reached the Peak

Today we finally reached the Peak of Inflated Expectations. The view is simply amazing. This technology is going to revolutionize everything. Everyone is excited and  teaming up with their friends. Documentum just got some great new equipment from EMC. I suspect that those two will be very happy together for a long time.

Life is good.

Day 2, Getting Crowded

Apparently everyone is excited and more and more people are joining us on the Peak. While the view is still lovely, they ground is starting to get muddy from all the people trampling everywhere.

Stellent showed up with their new pal Oracle. Everyone thinks they are a bunch of posers but they are mostly keeping quiet because Oracle has a bit of a temper.

There seems to be a new noise. I’m going to go check it out.

Day 4, Ooops

That noise from the other day? That was the beginning of an avalanche that carried the entire group off of the Peak. According to our maps we are in the Trough of Disillusionment. It is hard to validate because nobody can get a clear signal anymore. It is a bit gloomy but some people seem to think we can get out.

OMG! Open Text ate Hummingbird while we were sleeping! They must be panicking already.

Tensions are very high.

Day 7, False Hope

SharePoint hailed us from the Peak today. They offered a rope to pull us up one at a time. Everyone was fighting to join forces with SharePoint, even offering up their first born for a chance. The efforts don’t seem to be working as the ropes keep breaking from the weight.

Open Text ate Gauss and Ixos last night. Everyone is wondering if they are next.

Day 9, Morale is Dropping

SharePoint fell down into the trough with the rest of us yesterday. Resources are starting to become scarce. There is a sinking feeling that we are all going to be stuck here for a while.

Open Text ate Vignette yesterday. Is nobody safe?

talking about finding new food sources. Most of us have taken to sleeping in shifts to stay safe.

Day 11, Despair Setting In

Have setup a permanent camp here in the Trough. Supplies are running low and the outlook looks bleak.

There are rumors of some people that might help us but they seem pretty thin and hyperactive. One of them, Box I believe, appears totally powered by Red Bull and Diet Coke.

Open Text found a nearby Trough and ate Global 360 and Metastorm. We are all feeling a little more relaxed now that Open Text has found a new source of food.

Day 12, Fights Breaking Out

The stress is getting to everyone.

EMC and Documentum had a fight today. EMC was found with a knife at Documentum’s throat yelling something about being a commodity. When we pulled them apart, Documentum screamed that if they had been allowed to do it their way, none of this would have happened. EMC stalked off muttering that they never signed on for any of this.

To be fair, none of us did.

Open Text hasn’t eaten anyone in a while. We are all getting nervous.

Day 13, Hipster Invasion

Those skinny people who lived off of Red Bull are apparently called ‘hipsters’. The hipsters are claiming to have found a path up the Slope of Enlightenment. We all have our doubts.

Documentum seems to be dating Syncplicity and EMC has found a new BFF called Pivotal. They are obviously trying to annoy each other.

Open Text just ate a hipster named Cordys. Nobody is sure why as there didn’t seem to be a lot of meat on Cordys’ bones.

Day 14, Resignation

We are stuck. Nothing is working. Everyone keeps coming up with ideas to get us up the Slope but they are really just the same ideas everyone has had for days.

Box disappeared last night. Open Text swears they had nothing to do it.

Dropbox and SharePoint have been talking and they claim to have found the path up the Slope that Box took. Everyone is skeptical.

I’m not sure what the future holds. If Open Text tried to eat me I might let them as it would end the suffering. This is not the utopia we were promised. Cannibalism, back-stabbing, and false promises have left us rotting down here in the Trough.

If anyone finds this journal, please tell my family I loved them. Well, most of them. I still haven’t forgiven my brother for taking my giant-sized Star Trek coloring book.

EMC’s Faulty Perception of Content Management

How I Met Your Mother Spit TakeWhile at the Monktoberfest last week, I had the luck to run into some people from EMC.  Not just any folk from EMC, they were from “core”, the storage side of the business. After convincing them that I knew enough about EMC to have a real conversation, we discussed Documentum and the Information Intelligence Group (IIG) where Documentum sits.

The talk quickly turned to why Documentum did not live up to the potential they had when EMC acquired them. While I have many opinions, I thought I’d get their opinion. It was a little surprising.

They didn’t adopt Virtual fast enough.

There have been a lot of missteps over the years, but that wasn’t one of them. I was selling Documentum during the rise of VMWare and I can state this for a fact, I NEVER lost a deal because Documentum didn’t support virtual machines.

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Moving from Expert to Evangelist and Back

Clarence the AngelIt has been an interesting few years. As I approach the 7th anniversary of this blog, I was prodded to look at my journey by Gina Minks. She wrote a post about how to take advantage of experts and evangelists without them turning into obnoxious tools. (Her words were not as kind) She was asking as much as sharing.

This is a tough one. As you become recognized as an expert, it is a little intoxicating. You want to keep the recognition while still maintaining the credibility that got you there. Opportunities come along and you have to decide which ones will let you keep your soul and which ones will require you to cross that line that Gina was warning about.

Let’s start with my journey as a point of reference.

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Six Years of Pie

You may not know it looking at my last two months of activity, or lack of it, but I’ve been writing, tweeting, and generally being loudly opinionated for the past six years. What started as just a way to vent my opinion over the direction of EMC/Documentum has become a platform for trying to push for change in the industry.

Thing is, the change is here. This June I’m going to pull my best Howard Beale and I’m going lay out why things are changing and why we can’t act as if it isn’t or that we have control.

But before all that, let’s review what has come before.

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Box, Syncplicity, and EMC

imageThis post has been a long time coming but it really took me a while to come to grips with all the implications of the Synplicity acquisition, and there are many. (Plus there is this whole day-job thing with AIIM). There are really three angles to take when looking at the acquisition.

  1. What this does for EMC’s Content Management cloud strategy?
  2. What this means for EMC’s technology stack?
  3. The impact on the nascent cloud-based Content Management space?

Without further adieu, let’s dive in and see what we can figure out.

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Documentum, Not Going Away Without a Fight

imageAs I fly back from EMC World, I am left pondering the future of EMC in the Content Management space. This is a space that is undergoing an overhaul. There is a surge of innovation which we haven’t seen since the nineties. The cloud is becoming a more important part of the equation for organizations and those vendors that don’t evolve to fit the new demands aren’t going to be relevant in four years.

To be honest, I fully expect only one of the established leaders (EMC, IBM, Oracle, and Open Text) to make it. Microsoft might make it two with their Office365 offering but there is the separate concern that SharePoint will collapse under its own weight after two more releases.

Seemingly aware of all this, last year at EMC World, Rick Devenuti announced during the Momentum keynote a new strategy for Documentum. Based around the concept of the New User, the idea was to support the transition to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) reality hitting many organizations through new clients, new deployment methodologies, and even new architectures.

This year had more of the same. It what was more of a report card than any major news, aside from the Synplicity announcement. So I’m going to give out grades for the execution of the strategy. Here are the ratings:

  • Above Expectations: The information presented exceeded the expectations set a year ago and the realities of the evolving marketplace.
  • Satisfactory: Pretty much on course as per last year. Given the realities of software development, especially for systems as complex as Content Management. This is still a good rating because expectations were set pretty high.
  • Unsatisfactory: A fallback or failure to met expectations. Cut functionality or significantly changed timelines are reasons that this would be awarded.

Keep in mind that even with good scores, determining whether or not any of this is going to be delivered in time to meet the needs of the market is a function of all vendors in the space as a whole. EMC can’t control what the other vendors do over the next year. They can try to shape the discussion of the market but there is no guarantee that they will be successful.

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