Friday, June 23, 2006

Web Self Service Environments


A long week with an inordinate amount of time on planes and at airport departure lounges (thank heaven for iPods) - but a productive one I hope. On Wednesday I co-presented with my colleague Shelley Leftwich a webinar for AIIM (link will be here) that focused on the next generation of Insurance WebSites - and though there was a lot that was specific to Insurance, there was also much that is worth thinking about in any large enterprise:

  • Moving from static sites that are little more than huge brochures to self service environments is a major new undertaking not an upgrade to a WCM system

  • It's no longer about WCM its about integrating back office applications via the we to our customers - you probably already have enough WCM, its the intergrations to the back office and usability issues you need to address now (along with keeping information dynamic and meeting regulatory requirements)

  • We need to be sure who our customers are and what their priorities are - as opposed to assuming we know, or pushing our own priorities. Almost everyone got this wrong last time round - usage and churn monitoring of customer facing sites is a very good idea

  • It's better to do one thing really well - rather than everything mediocre (see www.progressive.com as an example of doing one thing well) - too numerous are the examples of those that who do nothing terribly well, but spend a fortune doing all these things to a mediocre standard


Value of Traditional ECM vendors

Whilst in Las Vegas (fortunate to watch the sun set over the Nevada desert as we flew in - quite an experience! as was staying at the new and very nice TheHotel at the Mandalay) I was reminded of the important role that the traditional ECM vendors still have. As I/we focus more and more on the infrastructure vendors such as Microsoft & Oracle, its easy to forget that companies such as OpenText deliver deep integration to ERP systems with associated reporting capabilities - they also have deep dive expertise in Pharmaceuticals, likewise FileNet in Governement etc. Some of the major ECM players are without doubt losing their way - but others such as OpenText and Documentum are doing an excellent job of repositioning to offer substantial value in the new environment.

The major ECM vendors are not going away - their role is changing though to adding value in terms of domain expertise or specific horizontal functionality on top of the infrastucture.

Records Management & ECM

Wherever there is an ECM project, somewhere there is a Records Management project on going - oddly or interestingly enough they are almost always disconnected and not considered part and parcel of the same thing - this came up in a number of meetings and conversations this week. I think that:

  • Compliancy drives RM initiatives and crosses many boundaries not just unstructured data management - the best case scenario
  • The industry has done too little to explain the synegy between ECM and RM
  • DM & ECM vendors don't get RM and never have, but have made a lot of money in RM failed projects in the past - more established buyers are very leary of mixing the two together again (most probably scenario)

Its something that deserves a lot more thought - as though there are major differences between RM & ECM - I firmly believe that any projects should embrace to a fair degree both issues - if they are done separately there is seldom a positive outcome.

July Plans

I will be on vacation next week so the blog will be quiet - and when I return I will be preparing for a trip to Bangalore via London in mid July. I am partly dreading the trip due to the long haul and time differences that just knock the stuffing out of me. But hoping to get a lot done, and really looking forward to meeting with all the ECM guru's in India and getting their perspectives - its where I can come down to earth, and my 'expert' status is challenged thoroughly! Our ECM and Search Leads are just incredible and I know I will return with a much better perspective on things than I arrive with.

4 comments:

russ stalters said...

Alan,

Have a great vacation.

I agree with you comment regarding "The industry has done too little to explain the synegy between ECM and RMDM & ECM vendors don't get RM and never have"/

I might attempt an article to help them find their way out of the wilderness.

Would you be interested in co-authoring an article about this topic?

BetterECM

Phil Ayres said...

Alan,

I also agree with your combined DM/RM/ECM comment, despite working for a vendor with independent strengths in all three, and having a product built from the ground up to provide seamless DM/RM/Workflow (Vignette).

We have struggled in the wake of some of our competitors failures to bolt the RM component onto their successful DM systems. Customers, as you say, are wary to go down the RM path again, even if there is a proven package that does everything straight out of the box. And to be perfectly honest our marketing was atrocious after the company acquired Tower Technology.

Anyway, great post. I'll be following your blog more closely as you spark some great ideas for me to blog about (especially as I normally try to step out of my vendor profile when I'm writing).

Cheers
Phil

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alan pelz-sharpe said...

Many thanks for the kind words Phil - I really am driven to understand why things fail, understanding success is just too easy :-)
RM fails so often - as does ECM, that it's hardly any wonder that clients are wary of mixing both together...
What goes wrong exactly though is the really interesting area to explore. Vendors are not blame free - but users and buyers often fail to identify their real needs, and almost always fail to monitor progress properly etc etc
Vignette is a good company, and I did know the old Tower quite well - wonderful offices in Boston's Prudential building :-)
Best
Alan