EMC World 2009, The Case of the Incredibly Shrinking Momentum


This year was the second year where I “felt” that there were less Documentum sessions than the older traditional Momentum conferences.  This is strange as there are more components to Content Management and Archiving, Documentum, than there were even two years ago.  Luckily, I have the conference handbooks for the last three EMC World conferences and I can check numbers while I watch a new repository build.

The EMC World 2007 conference, while under EMC World’s wing, still felt like the session count wasn’t that far off.  I remember a few grumblings, but nothing documented, so I’ll just use that as a baseline with the understanding that the previous year was at least as good.  I believe 2007 was the year that the long-standing pre-conference tutorials vanished, so calling it even is a throwing EMC a bone.

Let’s See Some Numbers

  • 2007: “Momentum Sessions”=120 Sessions, Content and Information Management Tracks (includes Momentum and lots of Developer)=178 sessions.
  • 2008: No “Momentum” grouping, just a Content and Information Management similar to above…104.
  • 2009: Counting the sessions in the Momentum book, which includes “Developer” sessions…88.  Using the previous methodology from 07 and 08, you get 96.

2007 to 2008, WOW!!! That was impressive. We spent so much time running around that we were just happy to find our session, much less worry about an alternate session to attend in 2008. The 178-104 is a fair comparison as those are both identical EMC categorizations.  That is a 41% drop!  No recession talk a year ago, much less the 6+ months before when they planned it.

The drop from 2008-2009 is less severe and I’ll even call that a recession downturn with a drop of 7.6%.

So let’s get to the meat. 120 Momentum, non-Software Developer Conference, sessions in 2007 and a recession adjusted 95 sessions (88*1.08) is a drop of 21% over 2 years. WAIT A SECOND!!! Those “95” sessions INCLUDE all the CMA developer sessions (these 17 Documentum ones) that weren’t included in the 2007 Momentum count of 120.  Taking out the 17, and keeping the recession adjustment consistent, that is now 120-77 which is a 36% drop!!!  Over a third of the Momentum sessions gone!!! (Non-recession adjusted 120-71 gives 41%!!!)

Now, anyone with better numbers (*cough* EMC *cough*), please contribute. I am not counting double-sessions or Birds-of-a-Feather sessions.

Where Did The Sessions Go?

If anything, there should be more sessions.  EMC has acquired more technology under the CMA umbrella.  The X-Hive acquisition by itself adds a few sessions.  So with the same number of sessions being offered, there would still be a hit to the core sessions.  Even with the advent of SourceOne, which is home grown, we still see a decrease.

I’ll tell you right now that there are more options and technical details for a developer to learn than there were just two years ago.  DFC and WDK are still here and not going away, but we now have TaskSpace.  There is xCP and DFS.  Composer isn’t easy yet as it is still maturing.  Developer sessions, just in themselves, should be growing, yet they aren’t either.  Shoot, there were 15 breakout session slots filled, plus 2 un-filled, by the CMA.  If it wasn’t for a few long sessions, 2 of them I think, you could single track and hit all of the CMA Developer sessions!!!

Anyone miss the “Meet the Speaker” socials or the “Meet the Experts” gatherings?  How about those pre-conference tutorials?

What gives!?!?

For one thing, there is no longer a Call For Topics.  For the past two years, EMC has not allowed users to submit topics to present.  We, the attendees, got a lot of case studies and real-life examples.  There were more business users telling their stories, and TRADING their stories with each other.  I learned a lot from those people over meals and between sessions. I might only see them at Momentum, so I valued that time.

I see other consultants all the time and only the ones that you know well share their mistakes with you. We are in competition, so it pays to play it close sometimes. Users share because they can.

Each year, there seems to be less business users attending, and they are the ones with the problems we are trying to solve.  Content Management is not an IT problem.  Documentum is not used by IT.  It is used by the everyday, to steal a term, Knowledge Worker.

Go to 10 companies with Documentum. In 8-9 of them you will find end-users that know the name “Documentum”.  Go to 10 non-IT companies owning primarily EMC storage, and no Documentum.  I bet that in 8-10 of them, the everyday end-user, ones whose only interaction with IT is the helpdesk, won’t know the name EMC.

Different products, different users, different stories.

Storage can be measured in tests.  There is a lot to it and I don’t want to take away from anyone on that side of the house. Content Management is about people. It is about managing change, defining processes, and getting people to buy into the technology. It is not just how to deploy the technology.

We don’t only need to know what the next features are in Documentum.  We need to know how people are successfully gaining user adoption.  How are they selling the ROI to the managers?  How they are getting the system working with legacy systems, and the political hurdles they overcome.  I know DFS can do things, but how did Uber Pharma make it work with their legacy testing system?  How did they upgrade from 4i to 5.3 to 6.5?  What were the lessons learned? How did they manage the risk?

Fill the gap. Bring back the Call for Topics.  Bring back the business users.

Make the conference about users again.

16 thoughts on “EMC World 2009, The Case of the Incredibly Shrinking Momentum

  1. Sander Hendriks says:

    I totally agree. This year was my first EMC World, but compared to the Momentum Europe conferences I’ve been attending over the years, it has brought me a lot less value (for more money).

    Since the audience is so different, I think it would be a good idea to bring back Momentum as a separate conference. If not, you’ll all just have to come over to Europe for Momentum 🙂

    regards,

    Sander Hendriks

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  2. Ingo_Z says:

    That is also what a friend of mine had the impression in regards to the value of EMC World vs. Documentum DevCon. I also noticed that there were less hands-on sessions. I like them as within half a day you could get a mini-training when you trying to update yourself about certain things.
    It looks like despite acquiring and expanding the product portfolio they are rigorously trying to stick to the same 3 1/2 day schedule.

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  3. V says:

    It’s a catch-22 – EMC cuts sessions (and drops speakers) because there are fewer attendees, but there are fewer attendees because EMC drops sessions. Bottom line is, EMC does not understand the Content Management space very well, and it has been mismanaged since the acquisition – internally and externally.

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    • I wouldn’t say mismanaged. That is a strong word and I don’t agree. They are keeping up with the market and providing their sales people with good product to sell. On the other hand EMC could be doing more to connect, identify, and recognize the business users.

      CMIS does one thing that I haven’t focused on much, it helps break-down silos between legacy repositories. As such, it makes it easier for a company to change providers to one that they identify with more.

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  4. chuck says:

    momentum is an oxymoron with emc. they’re losing it. they have powerful and good products but emc products are too expensive and too complex.

    and the biggest issue is they are too closed a company. they need to open up powerlink.

    msft is open — I can goto technet, codeplex, and learn about anything and they have an army of partners/developers. msfts knows how to market, educate, they have great user groups….

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    • James, there are things to present, they just aren’t reaching out to potential presenters. A large majority of presenters this year were EMC employees. You and I both know that there are better ECM stories and hurdles to present from people in the wild.

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      • Lisa McIntyre says:

        As a non-EMC employed speaker from this year, I agree with the need for EMC to reach out to the current users for info. We try to keep a pretty loud/strong voice with the product groups, which helps with the communication. I would say that our speaking was a result of us keeping on top of the timing for the conference and us asking (some may say pestering : ) ) EMC about the possibilities. Oh, and we try to maintain a dialogue with Studio E, which helps a lot. It seems that it is not EMC reaching out, but users reaching in. We’d love it if there were more user sessions.
        I can’t agree more about the importance of connecting with other users during these sessions. We may not have had a huge turn out for the session, but those who attended were quality attendees; great questions, great feedback.

        Lisa

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  5. Wow! Imagine the passion for Documentum it takes to do the math and compare all the sessions over three years! We love that kind of passion…and in fact, did everything we could think of this year to bring together Documentum enthusiasts everywhere and give them a rich experience at EMC World. Gone was getting lost amid sessions scattered over the huge convention center. Instead we had a dedicated area for all sessions on content management and archiving. Back was the Momentum handbook, and the Momentum ribbon at the bottom of every customer, partner and employee badge. Our booth for Documentum (and the new SourceOne, Captiva, Document Sciences, etc.) was separate, with all our partner booths conveniently close. It was great to see everyone having fun at the CMA Party. And the CMA lounge was the most popular spot on campus. We’ll agree one low note is that the call for topics was too quiet this year…and seems to have been missed. We’ll be louder about that next year for sure.

    Were there fewer sessions over the last couple of years? Yes… Why, you might ask? Because we got feedback that people couldn’t be in 10 places at once, nor could they send enough attendees to cover all the tracks/sessions.. We’ve heard our customers and partners ask for better content and more inside information; plus survey ratings for customer sessions has been surprisingly low. So what did we do? We gave you what you asked for! Attendance numbers show that most folks are flying home Thursday afternoon – which gave us the perfect place to cut back. Surveys thus far show a really positive response to all these changes. But we’re always willing to listen. So keep telling us what you want to see at the show, and we’ll do our best to make it happen.

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    • Whitney, thank you so much for the feedback. It is very much appreciated. We, the attendees, recognize the effort you and the rest of EMC made to increase the feeling of community at this past conference for CMA. I will continue to stress that as a positive step for EMC as I did in my CMS Wire article and posts here.

      It is nice to know that the changes in the session structure were feedback driven. I would like to throw one observation out there around the number of attendees per company. You are correct that people cannot empty their office to attend. One complaint I heard in 2007 was around the joining of the Developer Conference and Momentum, independent of the EMC World merge. Before, when they were separate and ~6 months apart, it was easy for an organization to send a couple of Developers to one conference and a couple of end-users or business-focused techies to Momentum. When they merged the conferences, they couldn’t have them all out of the office at once. I do see the synergy of combining those conferences from EMC’s resource perspective.

      All that aside, there may be a middle ground. Would not a customer roundtable/case study per solution be useful (not knowledge worker/transaction…but a little more granular.)? There could be 2 sessions like this per track, maybe the same time across tracks. A public call out for participants would allow you to find and select a few participants. By putting out a call for topics, you would also see what the community is excited about. You could pair the selected speakers with an EMC employee to make the presentation and delivery better and more topical.

      These are just some ideas. The fact that you are listening, and engaging in dialog, is wonderful. Thank you.

      -Pie

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  6. Jyanti says:

    I do not doubt that their is some commitment to Content Mangement within the Documentum group.

    However, within EMC, they have made 2 large acquisitions of consulting companies that are dedicated to Microsoft and do a considerable amount of SharePoint work and little or no Documentum work.

    These groups even offer to assist you to migrate you off of Documentum and/or eRoom and into SharePoint. Could you imagine a group within Microsoft that was dedicated to Oracle tools that would migrate you off of SQL Server to Oracle or Oracle that had a Microsoft group dedicated to Microsoft tools and migrating you off of Oracle to Microsoft.

    It is obvious to all customers that EMC is not totally committed to Documentum for Content Management.

    -Jyanti

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  7. I am currently attending Momentum 2009. From my point of view there is no question that EMC is commited to Content Management. There are some very exciting developments and continual improvements both now and in the pipeline. Also one of the messages from Momentum is that they are listening to customers and trying to respond. One of the most obvious and helpful ways is the change of approach to product releases. They now have a controlled release schedule where major new products or architectures are released to a small number of customers so that functional problems and deployment issues are found before a general access release. It’s too early to tell how successfully this will be but I think it is good news they are trying to improve things.

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