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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?