Will the Real Mark Lewis Please Step Forward

I was reading the recent article by Alan Pelz-Sharpe over at CMS Watch titled High Stakes for Documentum. It makes a lot of interesting points regarding this year’s EMC World from the perspective of an outsider. I don’t want to discuss the conference any here, you can read all of my posts for my thoughts. I do want to address the comments from Alan in his article regarding Mark Lewis.

First Witness, Alan Pelz-Sharpe

Alan provides this view into the keynote and the thought-process that it started in his head:

Lewis’ keynote on the Tuesday was very poorly attended compared to the others, yet was one of the more revelatory I have seen. Not in terms of the product announcements — as we’ll see shortly those were pretty much all expected and par for the course. Rather it was his lack of understanding and topical depth for CMA software that showed throughout his hour on stage.

Bringing on VP of Worldwide Marketing (and Documentum veteran) Whitney Tidmarsh to run the demo portion of the presentation made his lack of passion and depth all the more obvious. As Tidmarsh shone on stage, and talked both eloquently and knowledgeably about Transactional Content Management, Compliance and Archiving, the Knowledge Worker, and Interactive Content Management initiatives — at each switch back to Lewis, the contrast became ever more stark. I think this tells a story about where CMA is headed.

It also begged the question (asked over drinks afterward by attendees) why Lewis — a man who had spent his entire career in storage — had been given the job at all, and why a veteran, and clearly very competent Documentum exec like Tidmarsh, had not. None of us had the inside dope and speculating about vendor motives is a guessing game. Still, the only answer anyone could come up with was that Lewis represented change, and repositioning of CMA into areas more conducive to lucrative storage deals.

Alan is not the first to ask these questions. I myself had similar thoughts last year when the appointment was made. I was told at the time by people in the know that Mark was much better suited than I thought. Thus I canned my original post for a simple, small one instead. After all, you have to give a guy a chance, right?

Second Witness, Mark Lewis

I admit it. I didn’t introduce myself to Mark Lewis at EMC World when I saw him chatting up some people at the CMA Party. I kept waiting for Mark to post something to his blog, and on Monday I was “rewarded”. I mean this that he posted a simple, small, recap of part of his keynote. Nothing specific about CMA. Nothing specific about Documentum. Just a description of the model where ECM becoming transparent.

Where is the leadership? Where is the insight? He talks about Information, but where did the word Content disappear? Look at his other posts. Sparse. He posted a series on Top picks for 2008. It started December 16, 2007. It finished May 1st. 2008 was a third of the way complete!

Witness for the Defense, the CMA Group

Things I heard about Mark at this year’s conference are counter to the picture already before my eyes and ears. Let’s start with the keynote.

I met up with one of my favorite EMC people and we decided to have lunch. He brought a couple of his colleagues along. They asked me what I thought of the conference. I mentioned the disjointed delivery of the keynote and suggested that it wasn’t rehearsed enough. I also pointed out that Mark and Whitney didn’t tie everything together between their sections. I mentioned the lack of a solid overall vision.

Instead of defending the contents of the keynote, which was my primary focus, he immediately started talking about Mark. He mentioned that several people had observed that Mark didn’t look well and that he wasn’t on his game. He said that the Mark that we saw wasn’t the Mark that they are used to working with on a daily basis. I believe that the person that shared this with me was genuine and wasn’t just covering.

At another juncture, I was talking roadmaps with a product manager. It was mentioned that the roadmap that was announced at the conference only existed because Mark had them accelerate the original schedule and then made sure that they had the resources to execute. This is a very good thing. I won’t tell you what product it was, but I will tell you that it wasn’t related to Archiving.

Finally, there are the words of Mark and the direction of the products. As I’ve mentioned, SaaS and Archiving are two of the things that were Hot Topics at the conference. The other two were SharePoint and Magellan. That gives us three topics where DFS and Web Services are important, and a fourth which is beefing-up the back-end to handle more content. That is ECM 2.0. Mark talks about it in his EMC World post, but without using the word Content. His keynote at Momentum Europe (wish I could get to that one) also addressed this vision.

I think Mark needs to change his communication a bit. He needs to start using the word CONTENT more than information. He is head of the CMA, not the IMA. I also want to see some excitement and enthusiasm. The best I can say that I’ve seen is cheerfulness.

Mark seems to be getting the job done and leading the CMA Group. I think he is putting the emphasis in the right places of the product line. That isn’t enough. We in the CMA community need visible leadership and excitement. If Mark can’t do that, then we need a new face to look up to when we want to know where the Documentum product line is going.

Just think on how Alan’s article for CMS Watch would have been read if it had been Dave Dewalt delivering the same keynote.

Oh Mark, it is spelled C-O-N-T-E-N-T.

2 thoughts on “Will the Real Mark Lewis Please Step Forward

  1. I agree, it is important to have a good “spiritual” leader that makes both employees and customer think this (Documentum) is both important and even cool.

    However, I must say that I did not reflected much about how the keynote was delivered but I think it is because I am used to something completely different. Since I am a huge Mac-fan I have seen keynotes delivered by Steve Jobs the last ten years. He is probably one of the best keynote speakers in the business world and still it is a almost perfectly controlled marketing event that reaches everywhere in minutes.

    Here is a a story about how it is like backstage:


    I attended EMC World the first time last year in Orlando and then I really noted the bad quality of the keynotes. The stage was huge, the room was huge and a lot interesting technology to support it. Still, when CEO Joe Tucci entered the scene and started talking I almost started laughing – that is how big of a difference it was. Everything from the entrance to the rather crappy corporate slides seemed not to match this big crowd. I wondered why they did not try to use to opportunity better. On the other hand, portions of Steve Jobs keynote often ends up on CNN the same day, I guess EMC’s won’t. The result was that this year I decided not to go to the main keynote and had a meeting with one of EMC’s product managers instead.

    On the positive side there is room for improvement and I would love to see the CMA group could be the good example for this. So fire up a community effort, bring in designers to design the slides and create a cool show for us next time in Orlando.


  2. Alexandra, great comment. I was thinking about this some more on my commute this morning. Documentum went from being a fun West-Coast tech company to being managed by a more conservative East-Coast tech company.

    The ECM industry needs leadership and energy. Not just the CMA Group at EMC.


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