Lessons in Product Marketing, ECM Style

Last week I went to the Drug Information Association’s conference on Electronic Document Management (DIA EDM). I was there to get my feet wet again in the pharmaceutical industry.  I wanted to see what had changed and how things had evolved.

I learned a few things.  The first was that the drivers are basically the same in the industry as they were a few years back.  I’m still digesting the material on the conference, and there should be more on what I learned later.  The most important thing that I learned wasn’t about Clinical Research Organizations or any other of the latest trends in managing electronic submissions.

It was in marketing.

Feeling Abandoned

At the conference, Open Text had a booth and Microsoft was well represented.  EMC was nowhere to be seen, at least as a vendor.  Lots of companies had solutions that work with Documentum, but their solutions also worked with SharePoint, Alfresco, Nuxeo, or some other solution.

I talked to lots of users from a fair collection of pharmas, large and small.  Many were starting to live with a collection of content solutions and others were looking to move away from Documentum completely.  One large firm had already made the complete move to SharePoint.

It was stated that they felt “abandoned”.  They feel that since EMC acquired Documentum, that they have felt out-of-touch with the community.  EMC Worlds haven’t been the same as the Momentums from a community perspective.  I told them that they were getting better, which was news to them.

EMC appears to have abandoned the market.  I tweeted this observation and got a reply saying that they were working on some things for EMC World.  That’s nice.  Do you know who knows this?

I do and now you do.

The pharmas don’t.  There was nobody there to tell them.  I was talking to an EMC Account Rep a while back, and they told me that it is all about new revenue for them.  There is some truth there.  Marketing is aimed to help drive new revenue.  Do you know what else it is good at?

Defending your turf.

Maybe a presence at DIA wouldn’t have gained any new sales.  It would have improved customer satisfaction.  It may not have gained any new references of note or value.  It would help stop their competitors from gaining new references, references they can use to further penetrate the market.

A booth would inform them that EMC still cared about the pharmas.  It would allow them to share with them what is planned for EMC World.  It would allow them to build that sense of community that they feel is missing.

Heck, maybe they would have been able to learn what the community needs from the products moving forward.  It is easy to do market research when the market is all in the same building.

Example Two

Did you know that EMC was accepting submissions for EMC World presentations?  Of course you did.  I blogged about it here and directed you to the EMC Community Network to learn more.

Did you get any emails?

I didn’t.  If you did, I need to get on your mailing list.  How were people to know if you don’t tell them?  Posting a link on your community page only works if people go there.  You need to tell them about the changes.  You need to take the message to them.


Having sessions submitted, and accepted, is about getting the community involved.  It is telling that community that their voice matters.

Example Three

Funny thing happened the next day.  I visited a long-time Documentum client in the energy industry.  They are fairly well connected among the industry.  They showed me the COOLEST vision I’ve ever seen for an Information Management framework.  They were going best of breed and had tackled many of the architectural challenges already.

I couldn’t be much more impressed.

They were even going to be using an ECM system as a platform.  It was all very cutting-edge.  You know what was missing?  You guessed it…Documentum.

They have been telling EMC what they wanted to do for years, but they and others in their industry felt ignored.

Sound familiar?

So Goes the Dream

The market where Documentum started, and once owned without any challengers, is now up for grabs.  It didn’t have to be like that.  One person pointed at a list of ECM vendors and said that one wasn’t going to be around in three years.

They weren’t pointing at Microsoft.

While I think the prediction is a little aggressive, I would be willing to extrapolate it into another prediction.  If EMC doesn’t get its act together, it will lose the pharmaceutical vertical to SharePoint, Alfresco, or Nuxeo.

When Documentum was started, it was to help beat cancer.  As Razmik said in his departing interview:

The reason Documentum was attractive to me was because one of the founders said he hoped this would cure cancer. If we digitized all this info perhaps we could provide the right linkage to enable a drug discovery problem to link the right two compounds together. If you can put together the right mergers of technologies and put the right mining and analytics on top you could actually help new drug discovery.

Well, I met with a company that focused on cancer drugs.  They were looking for potential solutions.

EMC’s Documentum wasn’t on their list.

This isn’t just about EMC.  It applies to every product company.  When you “own” a market, marketing still needs to continue.  You have to defend the market, and that lucrative maintenance revenue.  By denying your competitors references, you can grow as that market grows and expand to others.

Lessons in marketing at the Word of Pie.  Who would have thought?

2 thoughts on “Lessons in Product Marketing, ECM Style

  1. Chris Campbell says:

    If there’s a disconnect at EMC, then I think you need to look at the EMC corporate structure and strategy. I have the impression that the CMA division is only used as a tool to drive hardware sales. Whenver I see Tucci give a presentation at EMC World, I get a distinct impression that he could care less about CMA. That isn’t true, but that’s the vibe he gives off. If you observe how other CEOs present at their conferences; Jobs, Ballmer, Elison… they all speak passionately about the entire company. Tucci shouldn’t treat CMA as a sidenote as they have for the past few years.

    The FatWire announcement could a signal in a change in attitude. As many observers have said, it’s not everyday that a move is done like this that pretty much says to the world “Yeah, we weren’t doing what we should have been doing with WCM.” To me that says something and even more that they moved in a fairly big way to correct the problem.

    On another note, specifically Example Three – the energy company. Can you say what ECM platform they would be using? It surely can’t be SharePoint. Which brings me to another quick rant…

    Why would any Pharma seriously give SharePoint more than two seconds of time? I have yet to see them make any *serious* attempts at being compliant with a myriad of state and government regulations. Oh, that’s right. I forgot about the large contingent of third-party vendors that you pay huge sums of money to get the components and add-ons that Microsoft doesn’t feel like adding to the product in the first place. It’s easy marketing things like that, that EMC can jump on and take advantage of, but only if they happen to be physically there.

    Hopefully EMC has realized that if you want to grow your hardware business, you can’t just neglect the software side of the house and just *hope* that people will come.


    • First, to answer your question, no, it isn’t SharePoint. The company in question has picked a strong viable option there.

      While I agree with your comments regarding Tucci, I am not sure that it is entirely to blame. EMC World, yes, blame corporate. Attending core industry events and communicating with the core base, that falls upon CMA.

      I have hopes regarding the potential change signaled by FatWire, but it may be too late. I know it is too late for several companies who are tired of waiting. CMA needs to step-up, strengthen their base, and be there to catch the SharePoint adopters when they fall, if they fall.


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