The Unspoken CMS SaaS Dilemma

This is the last of my “drafty” posts that I’m shoving out. This one was a lot more evolved. I do want to say that this post was inspired by a chat I had with Andrew Chapman at a conference a few months ago. This is the first of at least two posts. No promises if/when the next one will surface.

Once more into the abyss…

There is a lot of attention being paid to the up-and-coming cloud-based Content Management providers. The reason why is obvious, Content Management offered as a SaaS offering has the potential to solve many of the problems faced by the system integrators of today. There is the problem is that they don’t have the features required today and their ability to add all of those features is limited by their SaaS nature.

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Take a Break from ECM

I have been trying to shift the topic away from “Enterprise” Content Management for a while now. I’ve said that it isn’t something you can buy because it is a strategy. I’ve said that you don’t need a single Content Management System (CMS) platform to implement your strategy. I even gave a presentation at AIIM where I said that the tech gets in the way.

I just read a great post by Lane Severson on the term ECM and the ongoing debates. In some ways he wants to get rid of the term and completely remove it from the dialog. He essentially calls ECM a vestigial term that no longer serves a purpose but is still around.

Well, I’m done. I’m not debating the term any more. It is what it is. What people are missing isn’t that the term is invalid. The problem is that there is a gap between our ability to execute and the “ideal” of ECM.

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Launching the New Box, Progress Made One Step at a Time

imageSo a funny thing happened on my way to the West Coast this week, I was invited to a product launch at  I’ve always been a fan of the concept of Content Management in the Cloud and the direction Box has taken in the Content Management space.

The established vendors are having to determine how to change both their business models and architecture before they more to the the cloud. Box is already there, they just need more features.

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License Fees Blocking the Future of ECM

So in case  you’ve missed it, I’ve been talking about how fixation on license fees can have a negative impact on on both the customer relationships and on product development.   There has been a reason for this conversation, the need to transform Content Management into a commodity.

This was discussed at the EMC Writer’s Summit event earlier this month.  Led by Andrew Chapman, we tried to identify what we could accomplish if Content Management was commoditized and was just there to be used.  Johnny Gee followed up this discussion with a post about ECM as a Commodity, sharing some of his thoughts in more detail.

Before talking about the license fee impediment Content Management Commodization, I’m going to touch on the Commodity issue a bit.

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The Challenge for the “ECM” Vendors

image I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but I’ve been a tad busy.  Then today, I saw a post over at the Real Story Group by the ever-so-wise Alan Pelz-Sharpe.  In that post, he talks about the High Cost of Support, and how it seems to be rising.  It is a great post that cuts a little into the financial actions of some of the vendors.

This is important to understand because financial incentives is what drives behavior at product companies, and all companies for that matter.  Even startups that do anything and everything to please customers, but aside from a few founders with visions of a new world order, they are driving towards the payoff of the IPO.

With that in mind, let’s look at how some of the financial systems at Enterprise Software Vendors, not just Content Management, impact behavior of their employees and thereby impact the customers.  Keep in mind that they’re are exceptions to the rule.

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Content Management as a Commodity

SharePoint has the traditional ECM Generation CMS vendors trying to figure out what they can do to maintain their “leadership” in Content Management.  imageA lot are looking to Case Management, a long-time need, to provide a differentiating factor for growth.

Meanwhile, other, newer CMS vendors are working to build solutions in the cloud.  What they lack in functionality/scalability, they make up for in drive, vision, and price.  They also have a plan to match, and surpass in some cases, the capabilities of SharePoint and the big boys.

These two new challengers to the CMS throne are making basic Content Management available to the masses.  The traditional vendors don’t see profit in the commodity game.  We’ll explain why this is a problem for them in a bit…

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Looking Beyond Box’s Market-Speak

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about  In case you missed it, I basically called their term for their solution, which I refuse to use again, “market speak” and hype while implying much worse.

A week later, Aaron Levie, the CEO and cofounder of, was interviewed on Fierce Content Management.  Here he espoused a solid vision for Box’s hosted version of Content Management, though that term was heavily featured, again.

During all this, a very surprising thing thing happened, Aaron contacted me and asked if we could setup a time to chat so that I might better understand their vision.  I accepted his offer.  Our scheduled meshed today and I thought I would share.

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"Cloud Content Management" Hype

headdesk Every now and then, I read a post/article/tweet that makes me slam my head against the nearest hard surface.  The culprit this time was an article titled Cloud Content Management to Challenge ECM?

I saw the title and was intrigued.  I then read it and realized that the author had started falling for some market speak.  I quickly determined that the fault was not completely with the author.  Yes, they had fallen under the spell of some marketing and should have been strong enough to resist.  The real villian here? Box.

Remove the Cloud

Okay, lets think this through, logically.  First, let’s look at Box’s definition of Cloud Content Management.  When you look at it, you see them describing a SaaS offering.  More importantly, you are seeing them talk about the advantages of hosting it on the internet as opposed to your server room.

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