Posts

 

In Brave New World by Aldous Huxley set in AD 2540 a new world order has emerged while older, lower castes struggle to find their identity. I cite this book and author because for the past 18 months or so I have been blogging and speaking at conferences about the need for the digital content industry, to embrace major strategic change of direction at a vendor level – essentially to find their own “brave new world”.

At Docville in 2016 and again earlier this year, I spoke about “What Is Your Next Best Action?” and “Building a Growth Strategy” in my keynotes speeches and in our  UNDRSTND Group blog I have called attention to the echo chamber in which we seem to live and our indecisiveness as an industry but finally I really do believe that things are getting better and that we are now quickly moving beyond the “green shoots” of a new industry narrative and strategy for Enterprise Content Management. The brave new world is upon us and its exciting.

Some recent events have caught my eye and really give me hope:

  • Upland Software’s acquisition strategy is well documented but their recent $24.4mn acquisition of Waterfall, a cloud-based mobile messaging platform, to fuel their customer engagement solutions strategy shows a more creative use of digital content technologies than some of their other acquisitions. This also makes Upland a $100mn revenue per annum player in what they call the “Enterprise Work Management” market.
  • Ephesoft became a VC darling recently with a $15mn raise from Mercato Partners that will allow them to attack the cloud-based document capture market with new vigor. Founded in 2010 by ex-Kofax executives you might expect Ephesoft to be suffering from the same challenges as the former independent document capture industry leader, but instead they are charging ahead and posting significant growth while others decline.
  • Nuxeo, founded in the early 2000’s in France raised $20mn from Goldman Sachs in September 2016 to help them expand into North America. This alone would have you ranking them as a vendor to watch but then recently they hired both Chris McLaughlin and Danny Pidutti – former FileNet and Documentum talents that have a strong reputation for leading transformative change in product and marketing strategy. No doubt some creative solutions and go-to-market strategies will follow!
  • M-Files, a Finnish company, raised €33mn in 2016 to juice up international growth and are now making big in-roads into the SME solutions space for digital content solutions and not just in accounts payable! They have a broad range of solutions templates on offer to speed the deployment of content management for customers and partners alike.
  • Hyland’s acquisition of Perceptive and the Brainware suite looks to be a smart move to re-energize their business and certainly makes them a force to be reckoned with globally. It’s great to see a private equity investor, in this case Thoma Bravo the long-time backers of Hyland, stepping in to help fuel growth not just look for synergies, efficiencies and cost savings.

These vendors each have a vision and are putting financial resources behind that vision and seeing positive results – this is not status quo, consolidation stuff! These examples help me to believe there is a strong case for growth in the ECM and related solutions space. The larger vendors who consolidated the market in the mid-2000’s (IBM, EMC, Oracle) have other priorities these days but customers still have a serious need to move information to where it is needed and allow their customers, employees and business partners to make better decisions faster. They see value in these types of solutions and modifying standard products to specific business processes is the way to gain market advantage in an increasingly competitive world.

I am looking forward to my upcoming client workshops and speaking engagements and I feel that I can confidently share that growth is back in the digital content and process solutions space – assuming you are living in the Brave New World and not on the Islands that is! 😊

Martyn Christian
Founder and Managing Partner
UNDRSTND Group

Docville 2016 – June 6th 2016 – Brussels, Belgium

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending Michael Ziegler’s Docville 2016 event here in Brussels. I attended this same event 2 years ago and was pleasantly surprised at the size and quality of the attendance. Not your “normal” trade/vendor event, Michael focuses heavily on networking, collaboration in roundtable sessions on tough topics and issues and attracts over 100 of Europe’s best and brightest ECM ISV’s and channel partners.

The event was themed around the challenges and opportunities of digital transformation and how the ECM community should respond and engage to the changes in market dynamics brought about by Cloud, SaaS and Mobile innovations.

I was fortunate the share the keynote session with Michael (request a copy of presentation here) and then attended a number of the roundtable sessions – as the day drew to a close the session leaders reported back to all the attendees their findings and conclusions…..and that is where I got to thinking about how you can create an early morning caffeine-like kick start to an industry that has been around since the mid 80’s and despite surviving and thriving during prior technology transitions just looks a bit tired and hung over… so here is my Double Espresso for the European ECM Community…

Digital Transformation has been underway for years already, companies like Box and Dropbox have already ridden the wave of Cloud based File Sync & Share for digital content, Kodak disappeared under the waves to be replaced by the new Goddess of photographic images – Instagram! The journey has been underway for some time but frankly some of the attendees at this event seemed like they hadn’t even been given a map yet and some looked pretty lost in my opinion.

The narrative used by the ECM community to explain why it is relevant in this digital transformation landscape is still pretty weak and needs a major upgrade – even the term “Enterprise Content Management” which was dropped by most customers a few years ago remains central to the discussion when frankly it should be consigned to a discussion of heritage and history not vision and innovation. Slack, one of the new leaders in the world of digital transformation and content collaboration has spent more in two years on marketing their solutions that are content and task centric than probably IBM/FileNet and EMC/Documentum put together!

The pace of change in our digitally content challenged sector is simply too slow – in Silicon Valley the pace is relentless, fueled by VC investments and private equity funding, the lights burn bright into the night and Stanford grads create new ideas, build a product, deploy it on the AppStore and then trash it and move onto the next opportunity in a matter of weeks. I am not saying this is the best way to innovate but certainly seems like Europe is lagging in terms of vision and the investment needed to move the ECM solutions market to the next level.

Take a simple challenge like defining the use cases for capturing images on a mobile device and moving them into the document recognition and classification steps of a workflow process – aka Mobile Capture. I sat through 2 round tables where frankly the thinking hadn’t moved on much from 3 years ago where an auto accident claims demo using mobile capture was show cased at Kofax’s user event in Las Vegas – surely with all the challenges in digital transformation and capturing information effectively at or near the point of its origination there must be 100’s of potential uses case to be solved – what about just looking at healthcare, at home health diagnosis, medication prescriptions etc?

For me the missing element here falls into two related camps. Firstly, ECM vendors interested in driving digital transformation need to engage more proactively with new potential customers and not just keep rolling back into existing clients who have invested millions $ in massive ECM infrastructures – let the support guys look after the big implementation but sales and marketing guys need to be looking for new use cases, new solutions opportunities, talking to prospective customer who don’t care about “ECM” but do care about managing digital content inside and outside their businesses using mobile devices and slick, smart processes. Speaking to the same people will get you the same answer – go speak to some new people and you’ll get a different and potentially better answer that will help fuel your growth.

Secondly, I would focus every single ounce/gram of effort on exploring the Customer Experience Management space for solutions and opportunities that need a strong digital content capability. Organizations will always find it hard to control the flow of information coming into their business from their customers, even with mobile apps pre-packaged to accept certain types of data and information customers are still going to take a photo of a document, a car accident, their prescription, their dog(!) and send it in as proof of something or other. Forrester have done some great research in this space over the years and continue to do so – I would start but gaining as much knowledge and expertise about CxM type problems and opportunities and then go sell solutions that solve those problems.

Basically it’s time to wake up, get a big, strong pot of coffee and start to think hard about where the growth and opportunity is for this great ECM community and market…. It’s either that or go back to bed and pull the covers over your head and make out nothing changed!

MC