Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Future of Enterprise Content Management

John Newton (co-founder of Documentum and Alfresco) has an interesting post on 'The future of Enterprise Content Management'. This guy knows a lot about ECM and I find him a thought-leader in this area. Here's some of what he had to say in his long, but very interesting post:
My guess as to what will happen to the ECM market is:
  • SAP will buy an ECM vendor further filling out one of the prime stacks in Geoff’s Stack Wars
  • OpenText continues to look for a buyer. Could they hook up with SAP after being jilted by Oracle? OpenText’s iXOS acquisition makes this an attractive pairing.
  • Vignette, partnering with companies like Microsoft, are testing the waters for a possible acquisition
  • Interwoven is testing a niche play by retreating into Marketing applications, but may still opt for being acquired. EMC could do worse than to acquire Interwoven. They could also help Microsoft.
  • The remaining players (other than Alfresco) will retreat into niche areas either around verticals or technical specialization. After the current boom in web redesign, this is a sure path to the living dead.
  • Alfresco may end up being last independent ECM vendor
  • The introduction of Microsoft Sharepoint 2007 will be the single most disruptive factor in the ECM market
  • Sharepoint 2007 has not really launched yet, but in competitive situations, Microsoft has told customers that a new version will be out (Service Pack 1?) with additional Web 2.0 features. Will this be the time that Sharepoint launches along with all the customers that Microsoft has been giving free consulting to?
  • Continued expansion of Alfresco will be the second most disruptive factor
So, further consolidation in this market ending up with four major ECM vendors, and Alfresco, as the open source alternative. Newton also points at Sharepoint 2007 (SP) as an important vendor. Further on in his post he says this about SP:
The subject then turned to Sharepoint. Many companies represented also have Sharepoint implementations. No one seemed especially pleased with it, but felt that it implementation was inevitable largely due to Sharepoint’s connection to Office. This is consistent with my observation that Sharepoint is an extension of the Office monopoly. I reiterated my point that I made in What the Heck is Sharepoint 2007 that Microsoft is still not clear on what Sharepoint is. (...) However, I conceded that Sharepoint is addressing a need in the enterprise that was not being met by the other ECM vendors. It is a knowledge worker stack for building knowledge worker applications as long as all the tools, platform and databases are Microsoft.
I agree with Newton's vision on Sharepoint that it is a very important factor in the ECM market. SP is indeed addressing the day-to-day collaboration and document management issues of teams and employees. But I find that this is just the start for SP. Newton seems to easily hop over SP. Why is SP "the single most disruptive" factor? The fact that to companies it's not clear what SP is, really doesn't matters to those companies. The integration with Office (the 2007 version is ever more tightly integrated) and the fact that it comes with Windows server is the reason why many companies don't look further and adopt Sharepoint. (Or implement a combination of a big ECM vendor and Sharepoint.) Furthermore, MS has the money and the power to be what they want to be in the ECM market. And they clearly want to be seen as a serious document and records management vendor. They even set up a blog to tell this to the world.


Monday, March 19, 2007


Just recently HBR IdeaCast had a cool interview with Don Tapscott. He's one of the authors of Wikinomics. How mass collaboration changes everything. I just ordered the book.

Tapscott has some interesting remarks. I'll give you a few snippets:
"You have four big factors coming together at this unique time in economics and in human history: 1. the new web, ... the old web was a publishing platform ... The new web is based on XML and it's creating a giant global computer that everyone programs whenever they use it. So this is creating a platform for self-organisation. 2. Second factor, there's a demographic revolution. The children of the baby boom are the first generation grown up bathed in bits. These kids are different, they process information differently, they think and behave differently. And they are now the biggest generation in the workforce and in the marketplace, they're coming into the workforce and the marketplace. Put those two together and you get a social revolution. ... Then these three factors come together to create an economic revolution. Where the web is radically dropping collaboration costs. And you got a new generation that wants to innovate and behave differently. And this is resulting in this deep change in the way we innovate and orchestrate capabilities. So buckle up!"

Wikinomics is "becoming a new mode of production. If you can create an encyclopedia, with thousands of people you've never met. It's 10 times as big a Britannica, in dozens of languages, it's real-time, but the quality is just as good. Than what else can you create? It turns out you can create software. The Linux operating system. Or application software. There's a 150.000 open source application projects under way today. You can create a mutual fund. ... Could you create a savings bank? The embryo is called: Zopa. It turns out you can create physical things, goods and services. Even the most complicated thing I could think of, the most complicated product: a new-generation jumbo jet, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, was created using the principles of wikinomics. So that's what wikinomics is. It's the art and science of harnessing mass collaboration for innovation, for growth, for competitive advantage and for profit."
Tapscott says: Rather than thinking in terms of hierarchies, think in terms of peers and peering. Rather that hoarding and fiercely protecting intellectual property, open it up. Rather that thinking: the best talent is inside the boundaries of our company, which is conventional wisdom, say "the world will be my software/geology/... department". Rather than thinking global and acting local, act global.
Go ahead and listen to the whole podcast!

Meanwhile most organisations are trying to sort out how to adopt this new way of working. And all technology-driven companies are looking hard for employees. It's giving everybody a hard time and predictions are that it will get worse in the future.
But can't we solve this problem by thinking differently? For instance by adopting the things Tapscott is seeing? This would imply not hiring employees, but opening up our organisations to the world (of course not all of it, even Tapscott says so). But smartly opening up the company and in this way tap into all the smart people that are out there, but don't work for you. If they're not coming over to your company, why not come over to them?