Composite Content Applications, Dispelling the Case Management Confusion

I’ve been working on a cool post about some positive content technology coming from EMC, but that needs more time to gel as I play with the tech, so I’m following-up with a post about where some of the focus on Case Management within EMC’s Information Intelligence Group (IIG) originated.

During Rick’s keynote at EMC World last week, he stated that Composite Content Applications (CCAs) were equivalent to Case Management.  At that point, I had my second “You gotta be kidding me!” moment of the conference.  It helped solidify the feelings in my analysis of the “strategy” at IIG.image

In later conversations, I learned that line of thought came from Gartner.  At first it was a guess, but then it was confirmed.  I decided against covering this point in my previous post because I hadn’t read the source material, and I didn’t want to accuse EMC falsely.

Well since then, I’ve gotten to read three reports on the topic, and I can say that EMC got it wrong.  The reports I read are:

Let’s look at the reports briefly, starting with the list of ten.

Where the Problem Started

If you have to find the source of the Case Management infection, the “Ten Key Content Management Projects for 2010” is patient zero.  The list in the keynote was taken from this report.  That isn’t just a guess, I was told.  In it is the following items at the top of the list:

  • Composite content apps: case management
  • Cloud-based content management

There are no numbers on the lists, but I expect that they are ranked in their perceived order of importance.  Personally, the ranking is irrelevant to this discussion, though if Case Management was “last”, that would probably be a little deflating to EMC. (I included the second item for a multitude of reasons not related to today’s theme.)

So if you look at the list, I can see how you  might think that they were equivalent.  When you look at the description, it becomes not as obvious.

Base configurations of key suite components for composite content application (CCA) solutions like case management are a logical progression of the ECM (and sometimes business process management [BPM] solutions) value proposition.

“like case management” is such a telling set of words.  It seems to me that Gartner is saying that Case Management is a type of CCA and that Case Management is a key Content Management project.

I was pretty confident at this point, but I dug deeper to the other two reports.

The Answer is in the Dates

So I read the “Introducing Composite Content Applications” report and it talks repeatedly about multiple types of CCAs.  For example:

CCAs already exist in a variety of vertical and horizontal configurations focused on transactional, collaborative and Web channel processes and users.

In the report, it does call out Case Management as an important example that is going to have a lot of activity in 2010.  This is why, on the same day and by the same author (Toby Bell), Gartner released the other report on CCAs and Case Management.

The first sentence of the Introduction section of the “Critical Capabilities for Composite Content Applications: Case Management” report matches the one quoted above for the list of 10.  That tells me that they definition did not evolve dramatically between the two.  This report reinforces the statement that Case Management is one example, though an important example, of a CCA.

The thing is, these two reports were released on the same date, so it appears that there was no change in Gartner’s definition.  The consistency in wording between the January and April reports shows that the interpretation of Case Management being an example of a CCA that is high on the radar of companies looking at new Content Management projects, but still just an example.

What EMC Should Have Said

What they should have said about Composite Content Applications and xCP is quite simple:

Case Management is the first suite of solutions that we are going to help you deliver using the xCP platform.  We see a large need in the industry to address this important problem, but it will only be the first of the many solutions that we at IIG help you build.

I’m sure they would have word-smithed, or spent more than 5-10 minutes on, the message, so forgive the wording.  The point is, Case Management is not the end-all, be-all of Content Management or the Documentum platform.  Delivering a platform that allows for applications to be easily developed through configuration more than customization is a much more palatable and meaningful message.

I test drove that message last week and it went over a lot better than Mark and Rick’s messages.

With this change EMC could also have renamed the product family from Intelligent Case Management to Intelligent Content Management.  THAT would have gone over a LOT better.  I might have only complained about lack of vision which is, unfortunately, normal for the keynotes and EMC.

This, like everything else I’ve shared of late, I told EMC directly last week.  This isn’t a surprise to them at this point.  That said, share your thoughts here so they can benefit from your insights as well.

15 thoughts on “Composite Content Applications, Dispelling the Case Management Confusion

  1. I was also concerned about the high billing of case management in the X/CP positioning.

    McLaren is long term EMC – Documentum ISV with a mature (and still evolving) and arguably the most implemented CEVA / CCA on the Documentum platform. To a line of business user these ECM terms are all rather irrelevant as they are looking to solve a particular business process / document management problem.

    We have already fielded a number of questions from customers and prospects somewhat puzzled by the x/CP markerting as a case management solution with little reference to the underlying Documentum repository or platform. Our application like many other ISV applications does not fit in the Case Management mold and is in fact a heavy duty document and business process management application.

    The problem created is now one of perception as the misleading question of x/CP compatibility is starting to be asked.

    McLaren were the winner of the last “EMC Designed for Documentum best platform utilization” award and a year later at first glance to a customer or prospect it would appear we use old Documentum technology. The fact that Enterprise Engineer uses the very robust and reliable Documentum repository is over shadowed by the x/CP case management marketing.

    McLaren were chanting the “configure not code” mantra now applied to x/CP back in 2004. Configure to our customers means to tailor Enterprise Engineer to meet specifc engineering plant and facilities management business needs not create an application from scratch.

    With SharePoint gaining much attention once lavished on the established ECM vendors it is essential for EMC and their competitors not to lose the visbility of the scalability, functionality and robustness of their core offerings.


  2. Victor says:

    I agree with you post. I don’t know of any executive who gets to keep his job with so many communication/messaging problems. Mark should be fired. He does not have any background in ECM. Someone with a vision and passion should be in that position.


    • Vision and passion should be on the face of IIG. Mark Lewis has value, but whether or not he is in the proper role is an entirely different discussion.


      • Victor says:

        I can buy value. I cannot buy vision and passion. A leader with a good vision can drive the passion of a community.

        I think Mark is unfit to be a leader. I haven’t seen even a hint of him being able to lead. A frank and honest conversation with any middle management within EMC would tell you that. They say he is surviving just because of his connections to joe tucci. His keynotes are dull and boring.

        We are getting frustrated, both as employees and as shareholders. We need to start a better leader campaign within EMC


  3. Hey Pie. Great analysis of the source material here! (as an aside: I can only hope that SemWeb tech will evolve to the point where your findings of correlations and similarities can be done with the click of a button).

    I agree that “case management” as such is a great example of CCA’s. It is tangible, related to a set of business processes and fairly well bounded/scoped. And it works well as an archetype.

    If case management is abstracted to “content that goes together for some purpose or process” then yeah, it is a great vector along which ECM as a practice can continue to evolve.

    But EMC’s message was loud and clear (and wrong?) Time will tell if they boxed themselves in too narrowly, unintentionally, or not at all.



    • Billy, thanks for stopping by. I owe you a post. 😉

      From what I’ve been able to gather, the messaging coming out of EMC is a combination not accurately portraying what they are doing during the keynotes and not being willing to share their long-term vision.

      I’ve told them, the industry is thirsty for a new vision in Content Management. They first vendor that comes out with a solid one, who is perceived as being able to deliver, will win.


      • the industry is thirsty for a new vision in Content Management. They first vendor that comes out with a solid one, who is perceived as being able to deliver, will win. yep!


  4. Pie, I must admit when xCP came out in Momentum Athens one of my impressions was that xCP was more than Case Management, Case Management was simply the first defined application type to get the xCP treatment. When I saw what the vision was for Case Management I was excited.

    However I did at that point get a sense of message confusion – some presenters seemed to equate xCP with Case Management, some seemed to see xCP as arching over Case Management.

    Certainly the message from EMC world, as I received it from afar, seems to be ploughing the Case Management furrow too narrowly. I can add one more voice to the call for EMC to really give us a vision that we can get excited about.


  5. Perhaps they should make you head of Marketing ? Or at least work for Whitney as “Head of ECM Vision Messaging” 🙂


  6. It’s nice to see that someone like you who is a bit more high profile feels this way as well.

    I’ve been writing some articles for EMC and was tasked with one describing why their xCP product (specifically the BPM toolsets) is superior to “traditional content management workflow” for case management. While I was trying to emphasize the configuration vs. coding aspect, they were fixated on the idea that their product accomplishes things that another ECM vendor’s “traditional” workflow cannot do, period (are vendors even selling their workflow engines as “traditional” workflow anymore? I thought everything was BPM now). I actually bowed out of writing that particular article. It worries me, the current marketing angles EMC is taking.


  7. Lee Smith says:

    I hadn’t read this post before I wrote my own but the two are in line. I hope the message gets received and understood!


  8. Hey, thanks for the plug! I’ve got another one coming out on the EDN soon. Now if only I could find the time to actually blog…


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