ECM, Content Services, or Just Doing It?


"It's deja-vu all, all over again." - Yogi BerraRecently, Gartner issued a note announcing The Death of ECM and Birth of Content Services. This has been met with several, mixed responses. Many pointed out to Gartner that many of us have been talking about this for years. I wrote a post on Content Services, Not ECM back in 2013. Going even further back, the concept of Content Services is core to Content Management Interoperability Services. In 2009 I outlined the three fundamental use cases for CMIS, or any content service.

I could spend all day linking to old posts but I want to take some time to bring something new to the discussion. A lot has changed over the years and perspectives have been refined. The last few days have seen my mind wandering and debating this whole topic in my spare, and not so spare, time.

Let me sum it up for you, it is a false dichotomy. Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is not a thing you buy. It should not be taken into isolation. Content Services is useless as a replacement as it is completely different.

Let me break this down.

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The Cloud’s True Advantage is Bringing Focus to Solving Problems


Looking at the Loudoun Heights from the Maryland Heights near Harper's FerryI’ve been talking cloud for years. Most of it was focused on simply removing unnecessary complexity from the world of IT and content management. Why setup servers, create networks, manage databases, or any other tedious, redundant, and valueless tasks?

When I say valueless, I am referring to the fact that managing a database does not bring any differentiating value to your organization. The value comes from the analysis of that data or through the leveraging the data to deliver better, more efficient, products and services to your client-base.

That still isn’t the greatest benefit or the cloud. Too many project spend a lot of time focused on sizing, performance, system compatibilities, and other technical details. That time would be better spent on designing and delivering the ideal solution to the client.

By moving to the cloud, those discussions are taken off of the table. Those conversations don’t exist. The higher up the cloud stack you move (IaaS => PaaS => SaaS), the more conversations focus upon how to better meet the needs of the organization.

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The Cost of Risk


Sunken ShipI’ve written before on the zero-sum game that we play when we are evaluating most Content Management projects. We can choose the solution that will readily meet 80% of your requirements but has only a 20% of achieving all its goals. Our other choice is the solution that will only meet 30% of our goals but has a 90% chance of meeting the expected goals.

There is already reason to lean to the latter solution. The odds are good that at the end of the day you will have a working, though less capable, solution. When the alternative is nothing, that is pretty good.

Let’s see why it is even better than that.

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Why Choosing Content Management is Becoming More Critical


Waiting for GodotI have recently been talking in my presentations about organizations opting to do nothing about their Content problem. When looking at the prospect of rolling out a new Content Management System (CMS), it is a valid option. There is only one issue with that choice.

Each year, choosing to do nothing becomes a worse option.

Let’s take a moment to discuss why doing nothing is riskier now than it was in the past.

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Predicting 2014


I know I am a tad late on my prediction post for 2014, but I have had a hard time coming to terms with what will happen this year. At this point, it is easy to predict where things are going overall, but specific events over the next 12 months? Much more challenging.

I learned this by evaluating my 2013 predictions. The ones that didn’t come to fruition are still trending in the right direction. Those predictions just failed to hit that magic event before the end of 2013.

Well, I am going to try again this year. I am going to lean more towards trends and less on specific events. I could predict Open Text is going to make a large acquisition and that SharePoint will be declared dead by {insert large number here} prognosticators this year, but those things happen EVERY year which makes it feel like cheating.

What can we expect in 2013?

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Have you Hired Snowden?


I have had a LOT of discussions with people over the past year about Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the impact on cloud adoption. My general response is that it would likely slow US adoption of the cloud by a few months and outside the US by a couple of years.

Well, it has be six months since this all started and I was starting to wonder about how this was panning out. Then Computerworld kindly published a piece stating that Chief Information Officers (CIOs) were sticking with the cloud despite the NSA.

While 20 CIOs are in no way a fair sample size, even if they are geographically dispersed, they did raise several excellent points.

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What Constitutes a Cloud Product?


Yesterday, there was a pretty heated twitter debate between Ron Miller, Irina Guseva, Tony Byrne, and myself over what constitutes a Cloud Product. This was triggered by an article that Irina had published on the Real Story Group blog about what people should take away from the Adobe security breach (besides passwords).

I am not a big fan of how Irina portrayed cloud security as cloud systems are often more secure than many internal systems. Ron had more fundamental issues with the article.

Adobe calls this product Creative Cloud when it’s not a cloud product.

and

This had nothing to do with them being cloud. Adobe ID goes back years.

I tend to ignore most contradictions in a Twitter debate given the limits of the medium. I do want to counter both of Ron’s statements.

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Box Is Doing More Than Checking Boxes


I want to start off by apologizing to Ron Miller. Ron is a smart guy and I count him among my friends. Ron also wrote something the other day where he was wrong.

Not a little wrong, a LOT wrong.

Ron wrote an article titled Box has always been about looking forward, not back. It is a good article and it covers Box’s three biggest announcements from BoxWorks quite well, but he misses the point. He missed what Box is really doing.

They aren’t just checking Boxes or throwing people a bone. They are preparing to take over everything.

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When is 30% Better Than 80%?


There is a basic misconception that is plaguing the Content Management industry. This misconception is that 80% is better than 30%. Without context, it doesn’t seem like much of a misconception, but trust me, it is a problem.

The missing context? What percentage of features that organizations are looking for does a solution have out-of-the-box?

The answer is never 100% unless you are the ONE organization that matches the generic solution template. Still, you can usually find a solution that gets pretty close if you tweak a few internal business rules that are more of a business tradition than an actual need.

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Box Defends Against Office 365


In case you missed it, Box introduced some new pricing last week. While the details are not relevant right now, the key detail was that if you have only 10 people, your price per user is now $5. This is great if you are a small shop because you don’t need as many features and you do need secure sharing.

So why bring Office 365 into this? Because this new price range is same as the Office 365 Small Business tier. Sure you can get more with Office 365, but Box still has that “easy to use” feature going for it.

Still, why Office 365? Because Office 365 is great for small shops. It bundles email with SharePoint and Lync. For a organizations with minimal to no infrastructure, it is a very quick setup and before you know it, you have your basic productivity tools.

I suspect that Box is looking at Microsoft as the big Gorilla in the corner. If they aren’t then they should be doing that. Microsoft has a decent cloud solution and a ton of money. It should be possible to fix SkyDrive, make an interface that works on Apple, and market to the same people that Box targets.

Box used to market against SharePoint to get attention. Now they need to work against them to make sure they stay safe.