In my last post, I talked about my trip to Russia. I was there to speak during the opening session of the ECM Ecosystem conference being put on by the Russian edition of PC Week. I thought I would share the English version of my presentation , The Shift to Business Solutions, and some of the related discussion that occurred during the panels.
Picking a Trend
For my talk, I was asked to highlight trends in the industry. While I mentioned the obvious candidates (Social, Mobile, Analytics/Big Data, and Cloud) in my talk, I chose to focus on the continuing shift towards Business Solutions. While not as obviously sexy as the others, it is one that is making Content Management easier to manage and handle.
I also picked this one because this is a trend that every organization can benefit from immediately. It is a focus on how to implement and execute Content Management, not how the concept needs to evolve.
After spending the week there, I was sure that I had chosen wisely.
Actions, not Words
After I gave the talk, we immediately jumped into a panel. Many vendors were quick to talk about how this was not a trend. One vendor even went as far as saying that they had been focused on Business Solutions for 10 years.
I wanted to laugh a little. Every organization I talked to while I was in Russia had a large, pervasive, traditional Enterprise Content Management (ECM) platform approach. They were big systems that were inflexible and the concept of starting that over was daunting but necessary. This was not the remnants of a Business Solution first approach.
I decided to by honest. I told the audience that if I had been asked five years ago, I would have said that I have always targeted Business Solutions. I would have been wrong. I was always looking for the first business problem, but only in the context of creating a large, inflexible platform.
What people need is a Content Services solution that can serve Content in the same way that databases serve data. The Content Server isn’t THE solution, just a key PART of the solution.
I do not think all of my fellow panelists grasped the concept as it is tough to look at things in a new light. I did see people in the audience nodding as they tried to picture the difference and apply it to their world.
And The Difference?
The difference is the perspective. Just address the Business Problem. Do not worry about all the other things to be done. Pick a technology that is flexible and can grow to solve those problems and expand as each solution is deployed to a wider group of people.
When you use databases, you don’t start by building a massive set of servers with clustering in order to meet all the data needs. You start with a simple server, or clustered pair, to meet the needs of an application. If it is large enough, maybe you will use it for another application. As more servers are stood up, they talk to each other.
It isn’t a perfect analogy, but it is a mindset. Solve the problem. Use services that can be leveraged for both this problem and other problems. Don’t start by building a massive platform to meet all the needs or you will run out of budget before you solve anything.
It is all about focus. Focus on solving that one problem and go from there.