Friday, January 26, 2007

Playing fair with software vendors

An RFI is issued then a competitive RFP process - 3 or more vendors invest time and money to work their way though long processes and presentations.

But in fact the buyer was only getting the vendors to jump through these expensive hoops, to keep the procurement or legal team happy. The buyer had already decided at the get go who they were buying from. It's so common that it's now expected - so increasingly many vendors refuse to go along for the charade and won't bid as they know full well they have no hope of winning, regardless of how good their solution. It's a rotten situation - unethical and damaging to the industry as a whole.

Smarter buyers recognize the value of standardization, but keep the incumbent on their feet by regularly awarding contracts to competing vendors. They also don't issue long check lists of pointless RFP questions, instead they ask vendors how they would solve their particular problems, and make full use of bake off sessions, where finalists come into demo on a pre-identified area. Result? More innovation, more chance of choosing the best fit, and healthier more ethical business relationships all round.

Friday, January 19, 2007

ECM vendor lock in challenged....

It wasn't long ago that Documentum was the only choice for pharmaceutical, Interwoven for legal, FileNet for insurance etc. Each vendor had a stanglehold on one or two industry sectors, and over the years locked in key clients. But with the commoditization of some elements of ECM, more use of open standards, the emergence of service oriented architectures and challengers coming from the open source community, those locked in positions will increasingly come under question.

Buyers who have long used a particular vendor as the corporate standard, should look again at the changes in the market, and what they will find might suprise them. Because until recently many vendors refused to bid or only did so half heartedly in many large accounts, knowing that it was 'owned' by a rival vendor. But now that new players are coming in and rocking the boat, there is more openess to potential new suppliers, and concern with over dependence on particular vendors. What this means is that this is a good time to be a buyer - you can make your complacent installed vendor dance for their supper again, you can negotiate from a position of strength and you can spread your bets a little wider. Vive la change!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

5 Things Game

I have been Tagged by Russ Stalters - to share five things that you probably don't know about me.... It's a game that has been going around the blogsphere (and I too will tag some others at the end). Anyway I am game, so here goes:-

1: Before getting into the sexy and glamorous world of document management, I was a writer and artist. I had some success as an artist (photography - new topographic influenced) in the UK and Europe (most notably in Russia and The Netherlands) - and interviewed many of the most famous jazz musicians of the day (Chucho Valdez was my favorite)

2: I coined the phrase Acid Jazz. This happened in a recording studio in London's Soho when we were working on a proposed TV program that focused on the emerging Jazz dance and Latin Jazz scene in London clubs. (note that Gilles Peterson the famous DJ and Producer also has some claim to this as he was working with me that day in the studio)

3: I did not drive a car till I was in my thirties and failed my driving test twice before passing (its much harder to pass the test in the UK - honest)

4: I am in my early to mid forties but have been married for 25 years this March

5: I designed the car parking system for Glastonbury Festival (Europe and I think the World's largest rock/music festival). I did this after spending 2 hours in cold rain trying to find my car in various farmers fields. The organizer Michael Evis loved my plan (color and zone coded), thanked me personally and have used it ever since - and I never even got a free ticket for the next years festival.......

Thought I might take this tag to new waters (India and AR) so:

Apoorv Durgha , Duncan Chappel , Barbara French , Duncan Brown and Pranshu Jain - you are it!

Link to Technorati Tag Page

Friday, January 12, 2007

Storage vendors and ECM

I was told recently that it is not uncommon in enterprises to see 7-10% growth in structured data, and 200% growth in unstructured data. Though I don't actually believe this, I think the sentiment is probably correct and that for sure in most instances unstructured data is growing at an order of magnitude plus, that of structured.

Assuming this to be the case then, why is it that storage vendors have little to say about this?
Even EMC who bought Documentum a few years back still have a very fuzzy and muddled story around ILM (information lifecycle management) and as for NetApp, Hitachi, HP etc they don't really have much of a story at all.

Surely that has to change, for at the moment if you look at a typical ECM stack the layer that has the least lock in is the storage layer. Indeed it is not uncommon for buyers to demand that the new ECM platform architecture be storage agnostic. A move I applaud, but potentially bad news for storage vendors.

Surely at least one of the storage vendors could start to think about this intelligently, and come up with a half decent story as to the added value they might bring to the archive, retention management aspects of unstructured data, with full acknowledgement to the ECM management layers above?

It will be no big surprise if someone like HP buys and ECM vendor - the bigger surprise will be if a more sophisticated and useful discussion around the full lifecycle of a document starts to emerge.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Ethics, Charity and IT Analysis

Just a quick (yet rambling) blog to start 2007 - Ethics, Charity and IT Analysis is something of an oxymoron, and that frankly is a very sad state of affairs. Over the next few weeks I hope to post a bit more on Analyst Ethics, as its an area that we don't like to talk about too much, but really should.

This is prompted by a triage of signals, from James' blog (mentioned in previous post), an article in my much loved Economist on Ethics, and the storm in a teacup regarding Microsoft offer of laptops to certain bloggers. Plus some other stuff it's best not to discuss in writing for fear of a lawsuit..

Ethics - we should have a code of Ethics for Analysts. Journalist have them (at least reputable ones), Financial Analyst have them too - and so should we. First question of 2007 then is how!

Charity is a somewhat different topic and I don't intend to discuss this too much on this blog, James again (turning out to be my nemisis) wants us to give space to that. Well I shall brief space to this link that has inspired me, I warn you in advance that this is not pretty reading so please click with caution (seriously): Link

If you think you can help me to help support the Crawfords in their work drop me a note. Other than that I will keep charitable things to the side bar.

But in moving forward in 2007, I would like to expand my horizons a little, work ethically and in line with my beliefs - I do hope that all we give value to buyers and vendors alike - for at some ends of the 'analyst' world value is little more than protection money, and I hope that in 2007 we can all as an industry start to address these issues a little.