Inside the Tornado – Market Momentum is a Beautiful Thing

 

Over the years I have seen some great examples of what I call “Market Momentum” – this is when the needs of businesses are deliberately accelerated by vendors into a storm of interest, marketing excitement, showcase customer success and sometimes, just sometimes, not always…. a little bit of overblown hype!

I remember the early days of Microsoft NT and SQL Server – when the industry giants at the time, IBM, Sun, Oracle, were blown away as Microsoft’s marketing machine went to work to establish a new price/performance standard for database servers in the market. Or years later when Salesforce.com grabbed the CRM mantle from Siebel Systems and Oracle to generate an overwhelming interest and demand for Cloud-based customer engagement and management solutions.

Of course this never happened in the Enterprise Content Management (ECM), now “Content Services” market, much to chagrin of CEO’s at Documentum (who tried hard but ultimately were a mid-tier B2B solution vendor who managed Wall Street expectations extremely well), FileNet (who  never invested enough in marketing and sales to drive the market awareness and adoption needed) and others who endured the slowest burn growth market of all time.

Geoffrey Moore explained this massive market momentum acceleration in his book Inside the Tornado – it seemed a bit of a fantasist ride for most software industry veterans but talking to peers who worked for Microsoft, Siebel, Salesforce.com etc.  when it happens it really is a wild ride of unbridled enthusiasm with vendors feeding on the newly established projects and budgets from  the customer – and sometimes everything just comes together for a year or two to create great growth and a degree of hype that vendors love to wrap themselves in if they possibly can.

Now that ECM has moved to Content Services, and Business Process Management (BPM) has been unleashed into the world of digital business automation and doused with the jet fuel of Robotic Process Automation (RPA)… are we about to see another of these market momentum accelerations?

This week I spent an hour with an executive of one of the world’s leading RPA vendors – stories of doubling employee headcount, 100%+ revenue growth, building subsidiaries in 20 countries around the globe, customer events with double the number of expected attendees…. this all started to sound very exciting to me.

Next week in Las Vegas, IBM’s customer conference  THINK! will be held for the first time – I would expect attendee figures to possibly be as high as 35,000 – and at the center will be a huge push for digital business and business process automation with keynotes from such information management luminaries at Geoffrey Moore  himself, Aaron Levie, CEO of BOX and  CIO’s from companies like American Airlines and Bradesco Bank. One doesn’t normal associate IBM with surfing the market momentum wave, yes, they try hard and create innovative solutions like Watson but at their heart they are a business process automation company – always were, probably always will be – with thousands of business consultant, business process technologies from database to analytics and everything in between.

My point here is that the ECM and Information Management markets that we know so well and have been around forever were always driven by workflow, business process automation, and robotic process automation before anyone ever coined the RPA term. Managing information at rest is interesting but the cost savings and productivity benefits are slim pickings BUT when information moves, inside companies or outside to customers, to vendors, to supply chains – now the productivity improvements and cost savings of managing those workflows and processes better can be immense.

It was always my belief that when the market understood that business process automation was where the real value in information management is then there would be a big shift and acceleration in growth…maybe this is the time?

My RPA company executive made me smile with thoughts of a tornado like future for vendors I work with today who have worked diligently to build solutions that manage  content and its associated business processes for many years – it doesn’t matter what you want to call it but automating workflows that accelerate business and increase productivity is what is going to make people, companies and even whole economies successful in the years ahead – market momentum is indeed a beautiful thing!

 

Martyn Christian

Founder & Managing Partner, UNDRSTND Group LLC

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