When I heard that Mark Lewis was going to be presenting the keynote at the EMC Federal Government Forum, I knew that I had to meet him. After seeing him at EMC World in Vegas this year, I was critical of Mark. I was confused because the impression from watching him speak did not match with what I heard from the people working at EMC.
Yet Another Mark Lewis Keynote
I was unable to track Mark down before his keynote. The keynote was disappointing, but in different ways than at EMC World. The first was that it spent more time talking about EMC as a whole and less on the Content Management and Archiving group. I understand why that decisions was made, and it was probably a good marketing move. My only thought is that when I sit down to listen listen to the head of the CMA group speak, I want to hear about the vision and where things are going within that CMA group. Adding context about how it fits in at EMC is great, but that context shouldn’t be the bulk of the presentation.
I didn’t hear a lot of positives on his presentation skills at the forum. Mark presented better here than at EMC World, and I have a theory as to why. Before I get into that, let’s go over the content.
The Empowerment of Information
That sums up EMC’s vision. Sounds familiar…
Enterprise Content Management is the empowerment of all content within an organization. This is accomplished through the centralized management of content, allowing for people and systems to access and manage content from within any business context using platform agnostic standards.
I’m not saying that it was taken. I’m saying that it is a good vision. I think that my proposed ECM definition would be a great vision for how the CMA group is going to contribute to the execution of EMC’s vision. Instead of that though, Mark stayed focus on the word information.
A key point that has been hammered-out by the EMC people recently, including Mark, is Search and the ability to find information. It ties nicely into the buzzword eDiscovery. Search, and its variations, are becoming a common theme that people are starting to address more and more. The concepts aren’t new, just the importance.
Mark finally got to talking about the CMA group. It was very little new information presented since EMC World. It hasn’t been two months yet, so no problems there. The one thing that struck me was Mark’s statement that EMC is not an application company. A poor choice of words perhaps as Documentum is a software application, but I understand his point. Documentum is a platform. Their goal is not to build Content Applications but to make it easy for people to create their own Content Applications through configuration and a minimum of customization.
Mark went over the four areas of the CMA. The only point that I want to really share is that Mark said that Transactional Content Management is what ECM should do best. I disagree. Compliance is what it should do best. It does transactions well because that is what it has been doing for well over a decade. The problem here is that sometimes it makes sense to use outside applications to drive the business, but retention and RM is best applied in the repository directly.
In fact, I think basic retention support should be core to the product. Make basic RPS part of the Content Server and have an additional license for RM. They’ll never do it unless someone else does it first, but RPS is something that needs to become as basic to an ECM offering as full-text search.
Is it just me, but isn’t Magellan and the Interactive Content Management interfaces (WCM and DAM) Content Applications and not platform characteristics? They are important Content Applications for them to offer, but it runs counter to the stated strategy.
Maybe if the strategy was to separate the platform and the Content Applications and just do them both well. Use an ECM SOA standard to connect them and you are done.
At the end, Mark did offer a light vision (only a few minutes). It was the combination of Web 2.0, Mining and Analytics, Virtualization, and SOA with XML holding it together and SaaS as a new, auxiliary component. Hey WAIT!!! Isn’t that the vision from pre-Mark days? Add a little SaaS and good old fashioned XML and you have the “new” vision. There was one thing new, the phrase “Platform as a Service”. Nice concept and spin, but will people like it or take a PaaS? (I apologize to everyone for that.)
After Mark’s talk, Whitney led a roundtable. It was entertaining, especially as I knew one of the panel members. I was really waiting for the break to track down Mark. When the end came, I walked up to Mark and introduced myself and even confessed to my previous post, just in case he had missed it.
I confronted him on the lack of the work Content in his talks. He told me that it is a conscious decision that he and Whitney have made. That made me feel a little better. I strongly disagree with that approach, but at least it is a decision and not a deficiency. You have to know your audience, and the audience knows ECM. ECM is part of the Information Management world, but it still has its own identity. When most of the room has Documentum, content is not a dirty word.
I did tell Mark that I like where he seems to be taking the CMA group and that I hear good things from his product people. Mark was very engaging and genuine. I sensed a little awkwardness because of the “Content” issue, but he didn’t try to get away from me quickly.
I think Mark does better the more intimate the discussion. I saw him talking to a group of about 6 people and he was very animated. I’m not sure if it is the group size or the amount of interaction that makes the difference. I think it is the discussion. He seems to thrive on intelligent discourse and it shows. When you put him in front of a crowd, his communication skills seem to degrade.
The next year is key. We need to see the promises in SaaS, Magellan, and DAM delivered. I’d also like to see a keynote at EMC World that is heavy on vision. Something that will make the audience sit up and go Cool. I would like enthusiasm to ooze off of the stage when Mark shares that vision.
I’d also like an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle.