You Will Never Have One Place for All Your Content


Dr Who in the rainYou read the title correctly. No matter how hard the industry works between now and the time you die, or are simply drooling in a wheelchair, you will never have one place for all of your content. I’m not simply talking the difference between work and personal pieces of information. Whether you are at work or home; on your computer, tablet, or phone; or any combination of those, you will always have content you need to access in multiple systems.

A little depressing isn’t it?

That doesn’t make it less true. If it makes you feel any better, it will not be entirely your fault. The problem is that you and your company do not own all of the content that you use. There is content out there that originates, and lives, in other places.

And there is nothing you can do about it.

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Why We Don’t Have an Enterprise Data Management Problem


Finally pulling out the analogy to end all analogies in the argument of whether or not Enterprise Content Management is dead or alive. Honestly, it never existed and we need to focus on Content Services. Dan Antion, an AIIM Board Member, disagrees with me. While I never let someone disagreeing with me slow me down, Dan is a smart guy and a friend. When he feels that ECM is alive and real, I pay attention.

I have one question for Dan. How is his Enterprise Data Management system working out?

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What Constitutes Industry Leadership?


File:Aston Martin DBS V12 coupé (front left) b-w.jpgOne of the debates that I have often had with other Information Professionals is the question, Who are the “Leaders” in our industry? This was always up for a good debate because we could never agree on the basic ground rules:

  • What role does the technology play?
  • Do you measure by sales or install base?
  • Do we care what Gartner, Forrester, or others say on the topic?
  • What players are even in our industry?

With all these open questions, it is a debate that usually lasts until someone gets fed up and forces a topic change upon the group by asking, Who is buying the next round?

This is a question that is important for me to address and I thought I would open it up for discussion.

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Box Isn’t Disrupting Because of the Cloud


I recently realized this truth which seems both contradictory and obvious at the same time. Box and the other cloud vendors aren’t disrupting the industry because they are Cloud/Software-as-a-Service(SaaS) vendors, they are disrupting it because they put people ahead of the Enterprise.

Think on it a minute. I talked about this in my AIIM keynote but I didn’t link it all together. SaaS may be the disruptive technology but it is the ease-of-use built into the applications themselves that is giving them market share.

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Cloud May be Easier but Do Your Homework


imageAt this point, just about everyone acknowledges that the simplified, cloud-based Content solutions like Box and Syncplicity are here to stay. There is a place for them in the Enterprise world and that place will grow as their capabilities grow.

What I’ve been hearing and seeing is a repeat of what I’d like to call the SharePoint Experience. People would just role SharePoint out because it was easy and expect everything to work. As we all now know, that wasn’t always the case.

Content Management, when done in a way to do more than just replace a file share, requires planning. It requires Change Management aspects to be considered. The impact to the business processes needs to be planned. Old content has to be migrated.

imageWhen SharePoint hit it big, this didn’t happen. Technicians just implemented it without considering the need to understand Content Management. Now, it is a different story.

As these new offerings are purchased and deployed, I’m seeing a lot of the same things. Instead of IT, the business users are leading the efforts. Sure, they don’t need to create an architecture or determine what customizations are needed, but they still need to plan.

  • How are we organizing content? Are we going to rely on tagging? Do we need to establish a simple Taxonomy?
  • What are we going to do about existing Content? Do we migrate or leave it as is? Are we bringing any structures from the old system over?
  • How do we integrate our business processes?
  • Speaking of integration, what about our other business systems?
  • How are we providing documentation, training, and support to our users?

These are common issues in Content Management and with a cloud-based system they may be simpler questions to answer.

The key to answering these questions is knowing that they need to be asked before the project starts.

Checklists of things to do aren’t going away, they are just getting shorter. They are becoming simplified but still require knowledgeable Information Professionals to lead the effort.

The goal of these cloud-based Content Management solutions is to take the simplicity of file sharing and add the functionality of Content Management. We all need to make sure that the result of this combination is the best of both worlds and not the worst.

Yammer and Microsoft, a Win for Both Sides


There is going to be no shortage of analysis of Microsoft’s acquisition of Yammer. I’m not going to take time to parse it all. I do want to share some quick thoughts on the acquisition while everything is still fresh on my mind and the deal seems more likely to be completed.

Yammer Cashing Out

Yammer was one of the pioneers in the the Enterprise 2.0/Social Business space. The issue that over the years as the space has evolved, the amount of evolution coming from Yammer has been limited. Their product has gotten better but they remain, at their core, a micro blogging service.

imageThe space has been moving on though. People have been learning that all these Social Business tools work best when they are part of the business process, not when they are on their own. With Yammer, you may produce less email and generate greater visibility into what people are doing in the organization, but you also have a new inbox to check. It is just one more window to keep open.

Let’s face it. Chatter turned SalesForce into a social platform. Yammer has been stuck in tool mode.

Yammer was facing a stiff uphill battle to remain relevant over the next several years. They seem to have been heading in the right direction, but there were a lot of questions about whether or not they could evolve fast enough to keep up.

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The Content Management Expert Paradox


Several weeks ago, Alan Pelz-Sharpe tweeted an observation that I have observed many times that is paradoxical in nature.

Many/Most CMS projects fail, but few/any CMS professionals have ever worked on a failed project :-)

While this quote was likely referencing more Web Content Management (WCM) efforts than the broader world of Content Management, I have noticed this as well. In fact, this is something that seems to be true among all branches of Content Management.

Aside from people hiding their failures, I think there is an additional factor.

Failure begets Transition.

Before I dive into that, I will now confess to my least successful projects. I am only listing projects where I had a significant role and am aware of the final outcome for the project.

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Keeping Your Content Alive, With or Without SharePoint


Last week I called SharePoint a legacy system and that there were many document graveyards/coffins out there built upon SharePoint. I also said that SharePoint was just the latest Content Management system to host document graveyards. This lead to an entertaining discussion as well as related articles by Ron Miller questioning the point of Content Management and Billy Cripe discussing the need for a new focus for Content Management Systems.

Before moving forward, I want to clarify. I was not slighting SharePoint. If anything, it was a recognition of what SharePoint has achieved as a legitimate Content Management system.

Let’s now take a step back and look at keeping Content alive.

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SharePoint, Another “Legacy” Content Management System


After waking up to discover that I had a sick kid, I decided to spend my Martin Luther King holiday relaxing and making sure the kid got some rest. I made the mistake of logging onto twitter and retweeting something by Melissa Webster from today’s Lotusphere 2012 conference:

A.Rennie “Content at rest = cost, content in motion = value”, “Sharepoint is today’s document coffin”. Social ->relevancy, currency

The tweet was read by Gabor Fari who took immediate dislike to the tweet. Two facts that are important to know before proceeding. Gabor works for Microsoft and while I have worked with all major versions of SharePoint, most of my experience is with platforms that were mature when SharePoint was first released.

I’m going to recount some points of the discussion and expound now that I’m not limited by 140 characters. If you want to see the tweets, check both his and my tweets from Jan 16.

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Taking the Measure of Box


A few weeks ago, Box held their first conference, Boxworks, in San Francisco. I was originally planning to attend but events conspired to keep me away. Still, I feel it is a good time to step back and look at where Box is, ask where they are going, and generally see where things stand.

Simply put, Box is doing well. Some felt that the conference served as their coming-out party. Since the conference, Box announced the finalization of a round of funding worth $81 million that they mentioned during the conference and are looking at expansion of their capacity. Box is taking a lot of mindshare and some market share as well.

But is it deserved?

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