Preaching to the Content Management Choir


image Been doing some thinking and I’ve decided that my blog is worthless. I have been talking about things that I’ve covered before and things that practitioners in the industry pretty much take as a given. I occasionally manage to string things together in a new way, but very little is truly new at this point.

The reason why is fairly simple. As an industry, we are facing the same technical challenges that we faced when I started this blog. There are still no vendors that can readily solve those challenges today. There is a lot of promise out there, but promise isn’t something that I can take and implement for clients.

So what is the point of talking about all of this?

Making Things Change

The real problem is that most of my readers are experienced in the ways of Content Management. The number of people from client organizations reading my blog is small in proportion. Many of those are people that I’ve met in real life or are Documentum folk. When I look at the attendees at my conference presentations, I see that same breakdown.

The thing is that the people with the actual power to change things in the industry are vendors. Until some of them develop the needed technology, we are stuck in a rut. What will make the vendors change? Customers.

Customers have the real power. They can force vendors to change by giving feedback to vendors and voting with their money. Who do customers listen to these days? Other customers and analysts, when they have time to listen.

Usually, customers are busy solving their problems. They typically research the direction the industry is taking when they are looking to make an investment. They rarely become active long-term advocates for future change, though there are exceptions.

If I want to effect change in this industry, what options does that leave me? I think that Lane Severson actually captured my mood in a video, though it should be noted that my kids do not eat Fruit Loops.

So Now What?

I’m in consulting. My job is to solve problems for my clients. While I specialize in Content Management, I am really solving any number of business problems that happen to have content involved. I do occasionally help some clients with an ECM strategy, but usually that effort it put aside to focus on specific business problems. The goal is always there, but usually it is secondary.

I started this blog first to rant about Documentum, specifically against the first Momentum that was absorbed into EMC World. Then I started ranting about the industry as a whole. Now…I’m ditching all the theory/industry stuff. Still going to occasionally talk about the future, but I’m going to put it in the perspective of what is happening in the real world. Omnipresent Content Management is still the goal, but at this point, you either get it or you don’t. If you don’t, then if one of my previously written posts doesn’t explain it to you, then you are unlikely to get it at this time.

So what will I blog about? Oh, I’m sure I’ll think of something. Most of it will be a little less theoretical and more about dealing with things today. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still rant when someone goes WAY off course, but it needs to be massive, public, and not some random set of tweets.

Meanwhile, until I am in a position to solve the problems holding the industry back, I’m going to just work to solve people’s problems.

13 thoughts on “Preaching to the Content Management Choir

  1. Based on Omnipresent Content Management, your AIIM presentation and our discussions about “the cloud” I think you need to write about federated identity management !

    I don’t see it being the ECM / CM industry holding back your vision of OCM, but the security / infrastructure / networking industries – lot’s of people to “pick a fight with” there 🙂

    Perhaps you should write about Metadata, there’s a sexy subject that is guaranteed to generate traffic…. no seriously……. 🙂

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  2. I’ve said it for years and will say it again: the ECM industry’s greatest obstacle — never mind that it isn’t an “industry” at all — is psychology, not technology. Change management, organizational (mis)behavior, corporate culture etc. are all more in the way than the systems themselves, which all do work, more or less, pretty well. But only if you plan for and use them right — and therein lies the rub!

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  3. I’ve been pressing the federated ECM approach for the last few years and making quite a bit of headway changing the mindset and direction of the vendors we work with. An approach I’m developing as an ECM architect is to leverage the strengths of a couple platforms on the back end with SharePoint as that universal user interface.

    We don’t need a vendor to bring it all together we just need to force the vendors to work together if they want our business.

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  4. I feel your pain. This is what I felt like the last two years I edited the magazine; the same topics by the same people for mostly the same audience. However, I sometimes think we’re too impatient. The IT industry is still so new in the grand scheme of things; why should we expect these very major issues to be sorted when the challenge of managing this huge amount of content, and the software tools to do it, are still only two decades in?

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  5. Barb Mosher says:

    Laurence, I get that companies are for the most part too busy dealing with their own business to drive the direction of the CM “industry”, but don’t you think that means there is a greater role the consultant to do that for them?

    You are in the trenches, doing the real work, struggling to make it all work the way it needs to. But you aren’t necessarily deeply involved so you can stand back and see the bigger picture and become an advocate for that. I expect a lot of vendors would listen to someone like you, not because you talk strategy, but because you can talk real world and strategy.

    I know a lot of consultants who don’t have that ability. I think the ones who do, have a lot to offer the industry. And I for one, would love a closer look at how it all really works in the real world. I miss that part of my old world.

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    • All valid points, but I don’t build product, and a lot of product needs to improve. At this point the vendors listen to me, but I don’t have any more weight than most of their clients. I can effect change at EMC, but only because so many Documentum clients follow my writing. That said, EMC doesn’t jump when I say jump and EMC doesn’t drive the industry.

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  6. Chris Campbell says:

    I’d consider opening your blog up to “guest articles” if you’re looking to broaden the field a bit. I’m sure there are others like myself who have a thought (or a rant) about Content Management but starting their own blog would dilute the waters so to speak. Why not have the choir do some of the heavy lifting instead always the soloist?

    BTW, Steve’s comment about psychology is right on the money. I’ll cover some of this during my presentation Friday at the Gartner BPM Summit. (9:45am in Grand Ballroom 5).

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