IAM Alert: ECM Blooms Amidst New England Ice Storm

Information Architected Market Alert (IAM Alert):

Last Thursday, amidst freezing temperatures and a New England ice storm, OpenText held its annual analyst briefing in Boston – and ECM was “In Bloom” – I’ll explain.

The session began with the expected, chest pounding regarding OpenText’s financial strength and impressive string of acquisitions.

Tom Jenkins, Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Chairman, gave an overview of the ECM industry, overlaying on it the history and accomplishments of OpenText. He wrapped up his presentation on the point that mobile access was here and now, and ECM needs to be available on the Smart Phone.  OK- preaching to the choir – and more importantly I felt, he missed the issue.  It is not that ECM is available on the Smart Phone, but that ECM tailors and leverages content specifically for the mobile device user.  There is a misnomer here – it isn’t the phone that is smart – it is the content.

And this is where the remainder of the day was spent, focusing on smart content – under the label of Bloom. OpenText uses Bloom to describe its 2.0 initiative.

Under Bloom, ECM is positioned as a resource that needs to be viewed enterprise wide, within a single (albeit perhaps virtual) platform, fully integrated with office and ERP environments, balanced between compliance and access and enabled through content centric processes.  WOW – that is a mouthful, but it fell on my most receptive ears.

Under Bloom OpenText positions ECM initiatives as “journeys” – on-ramps if you will, or initial projects undertaken that centrally involve ECM. These journeys are:

  1. Establishment of a centralized (potentially) virtual enterprise library (typically associated with explicit knowledge capture and or e-discovery)
  2. Enhancing the desktop user experience (e.g. portals, Office integration, enhanced findability)
  3. Expanding the ERP and CRM ecosystem (Using a taxonomy and metatags to bridge the world of transactional structured content and related unstructured content)
  4. To establish social collaboration (leveraging Web 2.0 in the Enterprise – See Market IQ for more detail)

Under Bloom, OpenText works with the client on a journey – to broaden their horizons and embark on related pathways with the ultimate goal of establishing a Social Workplace and a Social Marketplace.

What was a bit confusing is that Bloom is NOT a product or a methodology.  In fact Bloom does not stand for anything.  It is not an acronym. It is strictly a vision.  While I am not sure I like or get the idea of labeling a vision with no more structure around it – giving it a name that means little (and yes I get the obvious – “Bloom to your full potential”) – I nonetheless was drawn to the concept.

With Bloom, OpenText is introducing a line of service, but again that service is not called Bloom (?). OpenText provides Content Architects equipped with methodology and a maturity model that can help identify an organization’s  current ECM journey and develop it further with a strategy for evolving the ECM investment to a full fledged Social Workplace and a Social Marketplace.  Where I think there is a gap in this is the lack of focus on readiness assessment and cultural implications and forces.  Additionally, they are (rightfully so) focused on OpenText customers.  I am not sure if a FileNet or Documentum “journeyman”, would be told if their strategy required a migration to OpenText. That said, I applaud Opentext for developing this vision, putting advisory resources behind it and having a suite of functionality to substantially support it.

Overall I am enamored by the concept, but clearly I was an easy target in the aduience. This is the vision of ECM I have been touting for years, the advent of a Content Resources Department (CR) – my phrase not theirs – a centralized enterprise resource much like the Human Resources Department.

What HR does for the single greatest corporate asset, personnel, CR does for the second greatest corporate asset, content.  The CR department does not own the content or interact with it on a daily basis, but provides the means to

  • on-ramp or capture it,
  • manage it from an administrative perspective,
  • increase its value (place it on a growth strategy and put deliver it at the right place at the right time),
  • and off-ramp

Through a centralized model, it ensures consistency,  leverages best practices and provides cost and process efficiency all while maintaining compliance.

CR is not about technology. It is an enterprise centralized resource, a core competency and a strategy for maximizing the value derived from content individually and collectively (from tacit to explicit), while minimizing associated risk.  Of course in the end, that strategy needs to be supported with an infrastructure, and here OpenText did demonstrate technical competency as well.  I witnessed OpenText-powered applications that made the smart phone “smarter” through the intelligent integration of smart content.

I’ll end this post by sharing a somewhat comical yet poignant view of this perspective on ECM.  This video was shared with me by an OpenText employee in response to my explanation of a “Content Resources Department.”

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“Dan conducted a workshop on taxonomy development and maintenance and I found him to very knowledgeable about the subject. He was able to use real world examples to help his audience understand the concepts he was trying to convey.”
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