Open Source ECM is Dead

imageIt finally happened. An acquisition in the ECM space that was so newsworthy I had to write about it. One so big that it is going to fundamentally change the market.

Hyland just announced that they are acquiring Nuxeo.

I never thought that an acquisition involving these two firms would be so newsworthy. However, this is the second acquisition of a major open source ECM vendor in the past year by Hyland. And that is the problem.

There were only two major open source ECM vendors in the market.

That’s right. A single vendor, who was not in the open source market before they bought Alfresco, has acquired both major players. While this may not spell the end of open source in the ECM space, it does mean the end of true choice.

And only with one choice, you do not have a competitive ecosystem.

The Coexistence of Alfresco and Nuxeo

Let’s look at the practicalities of the acquisition, putting aside the open source nature of both Alfresco and Nuxeo. Alfresco was a good fit. They had a larger footprint with “enterprise” customers and their content services architecture was more cloud ready. There was a little bit of overlap but there were lot of reasons to not worry.

Nuxeo overlaps with Alfresco quite a bit. It has a stronger digital asset management (DAM) offering and a more advanced technical architecture. It is lacking in records management features, though that can be compensated by leveraging a tool with federated records management capabilities, like the one within Alfresco.

Alfresco was liked by enterprise buyers. Nuxeo was liked by the technical geeks. However, as Alan Pelz-Sharpe points out, there was no love lost between the vendors because they saw each other, rightly so in my opinion, as each others main competitor.

Future of Content Services

Right now, Hyland is a big unknown. Will they provide information governance capabilities for Nuxeo and use that as their cloud baseline? Will they take Nuxeo’s DAM and engineers but ditch the rest? Whatever the direction, it will take time to get everything structured at Hyland and moving in the right direction.

Meanwhile, Microsoft 365 and Open Text have to be a little concerned. If Hyland does things correctly, Hyland is going to be a strong competitor. Best case scenario, they can leverage the uncertainty for the next year to retain customers thinking of leaving and to win a few more deals before Hyland comes out swinging.

The biggest winner, and likely the only one in both the short-term and the long-term, is Box. They have benefited by the on-premises ECM industry failing to successfully attack the cloud. They just got one more chance to “win” the industry, just when they might need it.

What Is Next?

It is hard to say. There is clearly an opportunity for some vendor to step-up and become a significant player. Perhaps one of the headless CMS (content management systems) players that are making a splash in the web content management (WCM) space.

To be honest, I half expected Amazon to buy Nuxeo and turn them into an AWS offering. If Amazon created an ECM offering, perhaps with Textract tied-in, that could be formidable. Microsoft may also decide to move past checkbox content services and turn SharePoint into a real platform.

A lot could happen. For the next few months, everything should be status quo. If I was a cloud native vendor, I’d be closing my gaps and getting ready to pounce on the clients being left behind. Right now, Box is likely the best positioned. Their largest weak spot, from a content services perspective, is their lethargic content modeling.

And that can be compensated for if necessary.

Content Services Made Possible With AWS

[Originally written for the TeraThink blog. Additional edits have been to clarify context.]

We’ve shared a bit about how we’ve setup a working infrastructure for content services at USCIS. While it hasn’t always been easy, there have been a few key takeaways that have made TeraThink’s efforts successful.

  1. Define business-centric APIs. We currently use Mule as it makes the basics easy and allows for complexity.
  2. Understand, capture, and fully execute the non-functional requirements. User experience drives adoption. Non-functional requirements drives management support and avoids messy incidents.
  3. Architect for, and deploy in, the cloud.

Designing for the cloud seems obvious in today’s IT world. However, I cannot stress how much time and effort has been saved by keeping this in the forefront of our efforts. I’ve been doing enterprise content management (ECM) for decades and I can tell you that using the different cloud capabilities of Amazon Web Services (AWS) has made a huge, positive impact.

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Digitally Transform Your Processes and Information Governance Policies

[Originally published on the TeraThink blog]

Looking at these boxes of records in the window you have to wonder if the retention is driven by how much space they have or actual business need.One of the great things about using content services in your digital transformation efforts is the automation a lot of information governance processes. You can link business entities, automate the application of policies, and reduce duplicate content. All of which increases reliability of information and reduces redundancy. The newly digitized processes streamline the work that you do daily, increasing your ability to innovate across your business.

Sounds great, right?

But what about those policies you are applying? Have you thought about what they are doing? Do they reflect the realities of your day-to-day? Now that you are no longer dealing with paper and information silos, you can revisit your records policies that were written years ago.

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Digital Preservation Matters As Our Records, And History, Are Vanishing

[Originally published on the TeraThink blog]

Some 3.5 inch floppy disks from the 80s and 90s. Recognize any?I’ve been seeing an uptick in interest in digital preservation recently. We are a few decades into the digital age and even without the push to digitally transform everything, people are realizing that they have a lot of digital information. I am surrounded by people who are using a digital records system I put in place over a decade ago. This puts that system into the realm of digital preservation. As per AIIM in their 2017 Digital Preservation Market Research:

The capabilities to ensure the readability and usability of digital information that must be retained for longer than 10 years.

I used to think ten years was a long time. It isn’t. People are also realizing that while storing large volumes of electronic documents is easier than paper, you have to take greater care. I have books that are older than 100 years in my house. The only accessible, viable, digital content I have over 25 years old are some music compact discs.

As we create more and more digital information, we need to start thinking more about long-term preservation.

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Data, Content, Information, and Records Management

Information Coalition's initial view on the relationship between data, content, information, records, knowledge, and documentsThere are so many terms for the things that we manage everyday. Most people’s understanding of them are remnants of what was learned as we each entered the industry. This understanding has been expanded by how we use it in our daily life. The Information Coalition is working on their InfoBok that seeks to finally define these disciplines.

Recently, I was part of a twitter discussion with several people, primarily hailing from the web side of the content management world. It has been many years since I made the argument that the world of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) should include the Web Content Management (WCM) space. The worlds turned out to be connected but distinct. The uses of the word “content” and how it relates to information is evidence of that difference.

I thought I would take time to better share my thoughts where there were more than 280 characters to frame my thoughts. Hopefully, this will stir some more discussions.

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Information Governance Can Limit Data Breaches But That Isn’t The Answer

 

Spocks Brain is Gone, the ultimate in data theftYou may have noticed that there has been a large amount of data and information leaking out into the universe lately. Between people not protecting information, breaking rules around information, or your classic data breach, our personal information is out there, without us, more than ever.

The one thing I hear after every breach is the call for better Information Governance or Records Management. As Don Lueders, whom I respect, put it,

So called ‘data breaches’ are thefts of information and, as such, they are first and foremost a traditional records management problem.  Until organizations understand this and include records management as a critical component of their long term cybersecurity strategy, data breaches – and the disastrous consequences they bring – will continue unabated.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, this is a false sense of security. Disposing of records will not keep you out of the headlines. It will only give you a false sense of security.

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InfoGovCon 2017 Continues to Set the Bar High

Governor Raimondo speaks at InfoGov17This post has been a long time in coming because I’ve been trying to process everything that happened this year. Once again, InfoGovCon was a great event and the Information Coalition should be proud at the quality of speakers that they assembled. After all, how many conferences score a governor and get them to talk about something relevant?

Conferences like InfoGovCon are critical for the industry. We are still building a template for consistent success. As Shannon Harmon, whom I had the pleasure to meet this year, put it,

The best practices are still being developed. The body of knowledge is under construction.  This makes information governance an exciting space within which to work.  It can also be immensely frustrating for those who want a well-defined structure in place.  Working in this space requires a certain comfort level with the unknown.

After decades of working in this space, I agree that there are still some unknowns. We have learned a lot about what NOT to do. It is the way we can get things done consistently that we are still putting together.

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Alfresco Pushes Content Services for Digital Transformation

[Originally published on the TeraThink blog]

Welcome to the 2017 Alfresco Government Summit at Nats ParkThis week I attended the 2017 Alfresco Government Summit here in DC. It is part of Alfresco’s rotating 1-day summits that they hold around the world during the year. Alfresco held this year’s DC event at Nats Park, a great location for the great weather. When attendance is good, it is a solid event full of productive discussions about information governance.

This year was a good year.

As a former Alfresco employee, it was enjoyable to chat with old friends to learn what has changed, and not changed, since my departure. More importantly for TeraThink, it was great to hear directly from Alfresco executives what their priorities are and their vision for tackling them. Enterprise content management (ECM) is constantly evolving so as a leading vendor in the space, their opinion matters.

Based upon what I saw at the event, Alfresco’s priority is enabling digital transformation for organizations.

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Transforming Information Governance at ARMA Boston

Laurence Hart speaking at ARMA Boston, presenting the importance of mapping the information flow[Originally published on the TeraThink blog]

Last week I had the pleasure of jumping up to Boston to present at ARMA’s Boston Chapter. The topic was a familiar one, Information Governance in the Age of Digital Transformation. I updated and expanded my keynote from the 2016 Information Governance Conference to allow the attendees to receive the latest insights.

As expected, it was a great event with a lot of good conversations about how we can take a fresh approach to Information Governance. This is a real need as many organizations are still struggling to make strides more than two decades after beginning this journey.

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Making Information Management Work in Our Digital World

[Originally published on the TeraThink blog]

These filing cabinets have a lot of information to digitizeOne of our core solutions at TeraThink is Information Management. It is a term that we, and the industry, use to encompass a large collection of skills and expertise centered around content and information. Information Management is also a critical part of everything organizations do every day.

How do we define that collection of skills? Stated from a high level:

Information Management (IM) is a strategy for the coordinated management of all information throughout an organization, allowing for people and systems to find and use information from within any business context.

The goal is to provide people the right information at the right time and be confident that nothing is being overlooked. We make sure that information flows as needed between every system and process. Whether we are talking about governance, content, or digital transformation, IM is at the heart of every project and sets up long-term success for our clients.

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