Wednesday, February 29, 2012

D2 built on ruins

The "new" D2 client from Documentum is similar to how the Native Americans of Chaco Culture built their pueblos on the ruins of previous structures. EMC seems to like to reinvent the UI wheel every few years. To make our day to day lives a little easier. D2 is their latest attempt to make the UI configurable, flexible, and relevant to today's expectations in client software.

Chaco Culture: Pueblo Bonito

I am not going to dive into the improvements of D2. Let's just say there are many and it's about time. What I will say is that, like Sharepoint, D2 represents a progressive layer of understanding of how users use software to store, describe, and use content. It's another step up the ladder of awareness and better technology to get the tools into the hands of the users who need them.

Will D2 leapfrog Sharepoint as the slick configurator of content management UIs? I doubt it, but it will eventually help with migrations and maintaining consistency with platform upgrades, assuming that it is well tested. This is a big assumption. Speaking of migrations: there's a lot of work to be done moving WDK to D2. All of those customizations out there, all of the tireless hours of converting TBOs...

So the question is do existing customers leap to D2 or do they hold onto their WDK foundations until the last supported release is a year old? If the customer is an old timer (more than 5 years with DCTM) chances are good they will analyze the cost of migrating to D2 vs. another CMS. The leap may be too much to make. It might be cheaper to migrate to open source or another CMS, or DCTM 7.0 might be a must have. I'm hoping for the latter.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Upgrade to More Simple and Other ECM Trends

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Churn = Change in ECM
In general, IT and business stakeholder churn influences the evolution of ECM systems. As business units become more savvy as to what can be done for free in the public domain (ie, Facebook), they demand the same for proprietary software. For example, Documentum burned through a number of costly search engine deals before settling on open source Lucene. On the flip side, the business is preferring Sharepoint for its ease of use.

CIO Revolving Door
In the middle is IT, contracting development of custom ECM tools and integrations, pushing for automation (without a clue as the intricacies of the business processes--usually), thus burning its bridges within their own companies. Then the CIO leaves or is fired. The new CIO "knows" how to deal with the issues (Laughing at the CIO) which changes the information architecture stack under the guise of innovation or an inflection point.

More Simple Configuration
Microsoft Sharepoint started the trend towards simplification by copying everything that was out there at the time and being smart about configuration. To counteract this trend, OpenText is hopelessly behind and Documentum bought D2 to leapfrog toward Sharepoint. This direction will lead to more emphasis on change management as companies realize how disorganized their content is. Like Sharepoint sites gone wild, enterprise content has been built business unit by business unit, even if it was centralized. Simple configuration will mean more consistent rules and policies around metadata and taxonomy.

Consistency = Lower Costs
Consistency will help all ECM systems simplify their compliance efforts. Records managers will have to streamline their complexity, lawyers will get better at mandating search and destroy rules in order to avoid potential lawsuits, and IT will take one more step back in terms of their influence in providing information technology direction.

Leaner IT
IT departments will basically become shells of what they were. Technical architects will be specialized based on industry. Outsourcing will turn into product development, not customization. Information Architecture will take on a new, more important role as the roles of the IT Director will diminish.

Secure Knowledge for $$$
This is a long shot, but we'll see: When a generic UI for information architecture and content is created--a Facebook for Content--more focus will be on security and monetizing a company's content and knowledge. Sharing information for bucks will happen, however the stealing of information, ideas, and software will have to be dealt with. As a publicly owned Facebook is required to grow its investor's money it will buy other content and knowledge from outside sources. As ECM system owners realize that the content they have and the analysis that they learn from it could be just as valuable as their core business, they will partner up with the likes of Google or Facebook for this new revenue generator. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

DCTM Demos Deep Dive

We all know that demos are a great way to show potential clients some of the more unique features/functionality of the product or service you are trying to sell. The issue is to what extent do you know the audience's concerns? If the audience is a pharma, do you focus on compliance and retention policy or do you focus on converting their paper process to electronic forms? If the audience is finance, do you show them an AP solution or an integration with ERP? The bottom line is the related experience you bring to the demo. To really be able to talk about the pain points and show how the product solves them.

The days of a dog and pony show are over. Today's audience are made up of business savvy folks who not only want automation, they want someone who know's what the hell their talking about. If you don't have an analyst who is part of the demo, the demo will look like this:

Realize that your audience will most like sit through a few demos from other EMC partners, open source alternatives, competitors, etc.

Here is a list of key areas and questions to focus on when designing and developing a demo (or prototype):

Who is the audience? 
It used to be IT only, not it is a mixture of IT and business, so make sure the has plenty of meat on it.

Detail the Requirements
If the demo is for an Accounts Payable scan solution, make sure to focus on the inconsistencies of invoices, the exceptions that happen, why payments are held up, etc. Do not promote that everything can be done with configuration unless you are absolutely sure: if you make this mistake and get the contract, good luck extending it after blowing deadlines and coming in over budget.

Audience Push back
Be prepared to defend automation and new ways of looking at old software solutions. Most clients want to design a solution which mimics what their sneaker process, which includes design electronic forms that look exactly like their paper forms. Be prepared to explain advantages of perhaps splitting up the forms for security or signoff reasons, or for reasons of sustainability as the process changes over time.

This is my JOB!
You might be showing a demo to someone who sees it as obsoleting their job. They will pick the demo apart for its shortcomings. They will feel compelled to prove their worth with the knowledge. Take the opportunity to more fully understand their issues and undermining techniques. Be sure to respond with assurances that this will not take their job. If the demo is a workflow, the "big brother" aspect may enter into their minds. The point should be that automation frees up knowledge workers to think and innovate more...

Business folks love reports. They have the knowledge to interpret them and need to Powerpoint them to the higher ups.

Technical Architecture
Make sure you know how the demo can scale with number of users, the expected performance, levels of security and encryption. Again, if you promise what you don't really understand this will come back to bite you later if for example the encryption level that is required is not fully supported with the OS and software implemented.

Be sure to have someone who can tell battle stories and how this demo's solution succeeds. It helps to drink your own Koolaid, but how many EMC partners use Sharepoint? A lot. Why? because it is easy to setup. Why aren't all EMC partners required to only use EMC products? Good question, try creating a demo of a break/fix system like Jira and you'll know what I mean, but seriously, if you took the time to use the products that you design solutions for you'd feel more of the pain that your audience goes through.