Review: The New Kingmakers


I will admit that I have been following what Stephen O’Grady and James Governor have been doing over at Redmonk for quite some time. They were doing for developers what I wish people had been doing when I was a developer. When Stephen published his book, I promptly went out and got it…and then had to wait to find time to read it.

I am so glad that I did. It took a little more time to get around to writing this review, but it is important to write because The New Kingmakers is full of truth. What Stephen has written about is the critical start of the trend we are seeing all over the world of technology.

Before I go into that, let me talk about the book.

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Information Management has Failed

New PictureIn March, I gave a keynote at the annual AIIM Conference. It was based upon my post, Silicon Valley’s War on the Enterprise. I’ve been hoping to share the video with everyone, but that doesn’t seem probable due to some bad luck.

Given that it is a very text-light presentation, I am going to try something new. I’m going to walked you through the whole thing…..

This is War

Seriously, it is.

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Silicon Valley’s War on the Enterprise

There is a war being waged in organizations across the world. What started off as simple attempts to make things easier for mobile users has escalated into a full-fledge attack on the Enterprise.

New Picture (1)Silicon Valley has declared war.

Oh, they haven’t made such a bold declaration. Well, not most of them. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a war taking place. It also doesn’t mean that the war is such a bad thing. After all, it was Thomas Jefferson who said,

Every generation needs a new Revolution.

If you ask anyone in the Valley, they’ll say that they only mean to help. They believe it when they say that they come in peace.

Which they don’t.

They mean to take almost everything we’ve done the last couple of decades, throw it out, and “install” their vision of the future.

Don’t get me wrong, they have the same desire to improve things as Steve Jobs, their idol, did last decade for consumer electronics. Unfortunately for the Enterprise, replacing your Content Management System (CMS) is slightly more complicated than changing phones.

Especially when the new CMS doesn’t deliver the 9x improvement we’ve come to expect from the consumer revolution.

Ripe for Conquest

Let’s face some hard truths. Enterprise software, especially Content Management, hasn’t exactly been a slam dunk success. Many IT projects fail and they still take too long to finish, even when executed properly.

The reason is that they are complex. The systems insert themselves into the workday and don’t always deliver enough new functionality to justify the added burden. Do not forget that it often appears that “User Experience” seems to be a foreign concept to many vendors.

To be fair, the complexity doesn’t start with the vendors. Have you seen some of the Record Plans out there? They aren’t quick reads. When buying CMSs with Records Management (RM) features, or a stand-alone RM system, that complexity is forced upon the vendors.

I cannot tell you how many organizations I have been to with STRICT Records Management requirements that barely have basic Content Management under control. I’m not talking years ago, I’m talking recently.

There are real issues out there, making Enterprise IT ripe for attack.

Complexity through Simplicity

This opportunity has been targeted by Silicon Valley. Their approach is simple. They allow users to do basic business activities, without complexity. Soon, a significant portion of your staff are using this software. Like a good espionage unit, agents from the Valley are in your organization laying the groundwork for a revolution.

There isn’t only one cloud vendor infiltrating your organization. This is leading to the first problem, which is “cloud sprawl”. Remember when every office had its own systems? Now imagine every user or project using their own system. Chaos.

Once your organization is ripe for takeover, the cloud vendors swoop in and promise everything will be better if you just commit and make the switch.  At this point, you just want only one of these cloud vendors creating chaos, not 3-4 of them. You sign the contract, embracing the chaos.

Then things start to get more complicated. Remember all those complex requirements to meet your legal requirements? Those needs have to met in other systems because the cloud providers can’t support those features and they cannot be customized to implement them.

Now there are redundant systems that are in place strictly to meet those requirements. Want them to talk to each other, good luck. The cloud vendors may love creating APIs for you to use but they don’t seem to care about support the industry interoperability standards. You can make the systems work together, but you have to do the work and maintain the code.

Have fun.

A Truce?

We need a truce in this war. Silicon Valley and the Enterprise need to work together. Things are broken but the systems can’t just be bulldozed to make way for a new world. There is a middle ground and both sides acknowledge it.

If you are going to the AIIM Conference in March, you can hear me talk more about the war during my keynote. This war is going to define IT in 2013 and I’m hoping we can negotiate a truce.

With the Power of the Cloud Comes Great Responsibility

imageThere are a lot of cloud applications that people are bringing into the enterprise. While many problems are being addressed, this works best when this occurs with IT’s knowledge. My general opinion is that if IT doesn’t have the resources to implement a new technology in a timely fashion, then they should at work with the end-users to make sure a system is picked that will best fit with the future enterprise architecture.

Of course, there will always be people that will choose to adopt other applications without working with or informing IT. The newest cloud applications driving the Consumerization of IT (CoIT) trend make this very easy.

Of course, as they say in the comics, With great power comes great responsibility.

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