In a world where SaaS is the panacea to all IT problems it was interesting to meet up today at AIIM16 with Alan Pelz-Sharpe of Digital Clarity Group. Alan is a long time digital content watcher having spent time on the client side implementing ECM systems, followed by time as an analyst at Ovum and 451 Group among other roles.

Alan was extremely excited about his new role at Digital Clarity Group and especially because he feels it has a new and somewhat unique view on providing insight focused at system integrators and professional services vendors. He started our conversation by stating that 70% of IT projects fail and there is a lot of research to support his view!

The challenge is that, even though the actual deployment of software has become easier with SaaS, IT projects continue to run over budget, are delivered late and sometimes just flat out fail to deliver what they promised.

Even proven SaaS solutions like are gaining a reputation for being hard to configure and failing to deliver against expected benefits. I personally went through a very painful experience of replacing an underperforming and frustrating SFDC implementation with Microsoft Dynamics CRM not that long ago and frankly as a user I was never satisfied with either. So why is it that SaaS solutions appear to be no better in meeting customer expectations than their forerunners?

In the ECM space I think we all know the answer because we have all had our own experience of failed deployments of our own technologies. It is nearly always the services and solution delivery and not software that causes the problem. The quality of skills, knowledge and best practice has always been lacking, and that is in a segment of the market that has been trying to perfect its implementation methodology for 25+ years! So what would be the risk factor if you want to deliver a new digital content transformation solution to support an eCommerce initiative to your client – higher than an Accounts Payable Automation solution I assume?

There would seem to be an opportunity here for service providers who have learnt their lessons the hard way in the ECM solutions space which often combines a high degree of process improvement, metadata schema design and end user adoption best practices. Why not take all those skills and apply them to a new generation of digital transformation solutions, often content centric and nearly always demanding process redesign. Selecting the product , SaaS or otherwise, is the easy bit, delivering a complete solution on time that works is a rare commodity – for ECM ISV’s this could be a big opportunity as the arrival of Cloud and SaaS solutions hollows out the margins available in software licenses. Certainly worth a thought and for UNDRSTND Group’s clients in the services space I will certainly be asking the question……

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