2015 – The Year in Review


Jeep Snow DriveA few things before I get started:

  1. This post is not strictly related to Information Management, but I’ve got nowhere else that I post, so, it is what it is;
  2. This will meander and be disjointed;
  3. This post was partially inspired by Michael Wekerle (from an exchange we had on twitter – image below) and Jennifer Langston.

 

Wek and Walker

It’s December, the last month of the year depending on what calendar you follow. This post is bit of a retrospective of a, for me, less than stellar 2015. That said, I’m justifiably optimistic that 2016 is going to be better.

The tweet exchange pictured above got me to thinking about how I got to where I am professionally. To make a long story short:

  • Around 1987 or so I finally decided I wanted to be a chartered accountant;
  • Couldn’t afford full time school, so went at night after work;
  • My Cal II mark was below the cut-off for year two university by two (2) friggin’ percent;
  • I bailed on university and focused on work (IT support at a public accountancy firm);
  • Found I liked IT and in 1991 went to one of those tech type schools for a year (one of the firm’s partners warned that there might not be much of a future in IT);
  • Went back to work and found I like the business side of IT better than the tech side;
  • Went back to university at night (while working and raising my first son);
  • Graduated in 1996 with a certificate (bachelor’s w/out the fluff)
  • Fast forward to 2007 and I got into all the joy that is ECM (finally found my calling at 43);
  • More education, but this time from a variety of sources including professional orgs, peers, industry experts, vendors, … you get the idea;
  • Attained some level of respect and credibility in the Information Management space, gotta keep learning to keep it up.

I offer up the above for two reasons: 1) it kinda supports some points made in the twitter exchange, and; 2) it relates to the professional (financial, really) debacle that 2015 was for me.

The economy in Alberta has been horrible since the price of oil has taken a nose dive. I won’t get into details, but it ended up costing me a few projects and a lot of money. Fortunately I was able to get some other pieces of work, but they didn’t come remotely close to making up for the revenue I lost due to cancelled projects. While this work related mess is happening, there’s some pretty significant upheaval starting in my personal life. As is often the case, family finances are a contributing factor.

It was pointed out to me that had I made some different career choices years ago, we may not be in this mess. Sure. However, had I made those choices (get into being a PM or into a technical role – neither of which I have much of an aptitude for or desire to do) I likely would have been fired multiple times, and I certainly would be a miserable bastard coming home from a job I hated.

Whatever … I’m not getting into too many details here – way too personal unless we’re sharing some pints. 2015 didn’t turn out like I’d expected, so I focused on learning and proposing projects that made sense under the current economic conditions. Is someone gonna bite soon? Dunno. I’ll hound them.

2015 pretty much sucked, professionally and personally. There was one exception, of a personal nature, that was unexpected, makes me extremely happy, and for which I am grateful that I recognized and acted upon. Things are looking up, though. Closing out 2015 and starting 2016 look like the corner’s been turned. No guarantees, but I’m optimistic.

Here’s some things that I’ve learned, or re-learned, over the past year. Some of them are things that others have said.

  • I have a really good, supportive network of friends, colleagues, and peers;
  • Don’t be so tied or dependent on an outcome that you can’t continue if it doesn’t happen;
  • If you can’t accept or deal with the consequences, don’t do it;
  • Barring a fatality, there’s nothing I can’t or won’t recover from;
  • Just get back up and keep pushing;
  • It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, despondent, discouraged, whatever for a few minutes but no more;
  • You are responsible for you;
  • If you’re not willing to be part of the solution, don’t whine to me about the problem;
  • Every day, week, month, and year is another chance for your optimism to be justified;
  • Whether it’s professionally, personally, or romantically, be smart enough and open enough to recognize the opportunities in front of you. Then act.

Anyways, that’s it. To you and yours, whatever you do or don’t celebrate at this time of year, be healthy, happy, and safe. Not just now, but, you know, the other 11 months of the year as well.

ECM as Strategic Platform – Not a Tech Issue


photography-371215_640In this CloudPro article, Aaron Levie (Box co-founder and CEO) asks about content management “Why is this one of the only categories of technology that hasn’t actually been approached as a strategic platform for the entire enterprise?” Levie also suggests that organizations view content management systems through a similar lens as they do with ERP and CRM systems. That is, have a single system and manage it as a strategic platform for the enterprise. I both agree and disagree with Levie.

We both believe that content management systems need to be managed as strategic enterprise platforms. And I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to infer of Levie that he would agree with me and others that information be managed as a strategic corporate asset. There might be a contretemps over where (type of system) content to be leveraged as an asset should reside (I don’t care where it is, I just want to leverage it), but I think it would be a minor niggle. I think where there would be more palpable disagreement is over whether or not organizations ought to consolidate content repositories or not. As far as I’m concerned, it depends. (I’m a consultant. What did you expect me to say?) There’s a whole mess of stuff to think about when considering repository consolidation, and this isn’t the post to go through it.

Aaron and I are going to disagree over his points about viewing ERP, CRM, and ECM through the same lens. He says we should, I say we can’t. The issue is one of understanding. If I go into any organization that uses ERP and CRM systems, they know the point and value of those systems. The high level business processes supported by ERP and CRM systems haven’t fundamentally changed in decades. ECM systems are completely different. They are built to support all processes and no processes. I.e.: they’re a blank canvass, a few tubes of paint, and some paint bushes. If you’ve got the right people, rules, and tools you’ll end up with a masterpiece. If not, well, you won’t.

The value proposition and strategy for ECM has to be crafted to the stakeholder. I cannot and will not give the same message to someone from HR as I will to someone in Field Services. I may use the same platform and even the same content, but stakeholder context is going to drive the conversation and implementation. And that’s a huge problem. ECM as a concept is too big and complicated. So stop talking about it. Talk about business opportunities and challenges; talk about transformation and innovation.

So, back to Levie’s comment/question about strategic platforms …

He’s obviously biased and I’m on his side but, been there, done that. In the majority of implementations that I’ve been engaged on, a strategic platform approach is precisely the approach we took. The technology involved didn’t really matter (If you really care, the techs involved included Documentum, Alfresco, Oracle, SharePoint, FileNet, and OpenText). It was all about the mindset and having the right policies, procedures, and people. It also helps if the technology has open API’s and makes integration as simple as possible.

#5Thoughts – Box Platform Now Available


Box-Platform-Graphic_2

First of all, thanks to Jeetu Patel (Box SVP for Platform and Chief Strategy Officer) for taking time on a Saturday to answer some questions.

Even though I laid out some thoughts about Box Platform in my post-BoxWorks post (that sounds awkward) I’m taking the occasion of its general availability to jump up on my soapbox (I slay me sometimes). Some of this will be repetition, but it’s worth repeating. I’m not gonna gush too much, I hope.

1.   It’s Managed Content-as-a-Service (CaaS)

It’s not that Box is the first content management vendor to provide content as a service, they’re the first to do it in a way that doesn’t, for all intents and purposes, lock you into a single stack or deployment model to build solutions.

For example, a few years ago I was involved with a couple of projects when I was at Oracle (my fave on-prem ECM platform, FWIW) that embodied the whole CaaS approach. However, they did rely on the fact that almost everything in the solution stack was Red.

Box are taking the notion that no one really cares about content management, which most ECM vendors actually understand, and building out from there. They’re allowing organizations to focus on building solutions while Box worries about managing content and infrastructure. Everything from version control and retention to authentication is invisible to the user, which is as it should be.

Equally as important as insulating the users from content management is that Box’s approach lets organizations build solutions that are heterogeneous. What’s this mean? Read point 2.

2.   A Solution, not ECM, Approach

Box’s approach to managing content, providing the platform, and providing the API’s means that organizations can build heterogeneous solutions. Effectively, an organization can build a solution using Box as the main content & collaboration repository and include other tools and platforms in the mix, regardless of the deployment model (cloud or on-premises).

Let’s, for the sake of discussion, pretend that I’m working on an RFI (Request for Information) response for a municipality that’s looking for a development permit application solution. We should also assume that all necessary API’s are available. What I might propose to the municipality may look something like this:

  1. Box as the main enterprise managed content repository;
  2. Tempest on-premises as billing component;
  3. ESRI on-premises as the GIS component;
  4. JDE on-premises as the ERP piece;
  5. Salesforce as the CRM piece.

The main point is that, as long as the API’s are available, Box can be the content management part of a solution design that incorporates all necessary functionality, regardless of whether it’s deployed on-premises or in the cloud. Another point is that it’s about building business solutions, not implementing ECM.

What Box is doing isn’t all that novel, it’s how they’re doing it that’s they key.

3.   IT Will Change its Focus

As more and more functionality and related content moves to the cloud, in-house IT shops are going to have less and less to do. This will bring about a great opportunity to reduce headcount and save some money. Or …

Or this could be an opportunity for IT to forget about fixing printers and patching applications and change their focus to developing and delivering apps that their users need and will actually use enthusiastically. It’s an opportunity for IT, on a broad basis, to change the nature of the relationship with their business stakeholders and become an equal partner in driving innovation and business transformation.

As much as this change will require a shift in how technology is procured and deployed, it will also require a cultural shift in how IT and business work together. Frankly, I think it will require major changes to many aspects of corporate culture. In order for orgs to take advantage and succeed, they are going to have to adopt different ways of communicating and experimenting.

4.   Data Residency

So this is the 363.64kg gorilla in the room. Sure, data residency is and will continue to be an issue for some time to come and the recent European Court of Justice Safe Harbour ruling isn’t going to help matters. However, as pointed out in #2 above, there’s no reason why part of the solution design cannot include on-premises or in-country data centre components.  Also, upcoming offerings, enabled by the Box/IBM partnership, mean that customers will have options for where to store Box data.

5.   The Experiences

Jeetu’s tweet from Boxworks says it perfectly …

Jeetu Tweet

#ECM isn’t Dead


Bring out your deadIn this article (it’s quite good, you should read it) Stephen Ludlow (Director, Enterprise Product Marketing at OpenText and a former colleague) makes the point that Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is not doomed, despite its inglorious past. He also points out some of the reasons for ECM’s less than stellar track record, as well as what we (the industry and our customers) need to do to position ECM for success. Coincidently, or not, Lubor Ptacek (VP Product Marketing at OpenText) made many of the same points during his session at the AIIM conference earlier this year. I just wanted to take what Stephen and Lubor said and expand on it a little bit.

Forget about the whole ECM thing for the next paragraph and just focus on the content. Think about what needs to happen with content to fully leverage its value and minimize its associate risk in organizations. It’s fairly simple, actually; provide content as a service to end users and systems and let the back-end repository take care of all the information governance and management stuff. There are two basic ways to provide a content-as-a-service platforms:

  1. A “silent” managed repository that serves content to LOB and enterprise applications;
  2. Workspaces (simplifying, don’t bust my chops) that knowledge workers access via their preferred devices (PC, laptop, tablet, phone) and methods (Web UI, Windows Explorer, MS Office, iOS apps, Android apps, etc.).

In both cases the back-end repository manages the governance of the information contained within it, leaving users to focus on their core tasks. Classifying, tagging, categorizing, and applying retention/disposition policies needs to be automated. Version control, check-in/out, and locking need to be managed by the repository.

And stop selling / promoting ECM products and projects. NO. ONE. CARES.

Talk to your clients and stakeholders about what business issues objectives your SOLUTION is going to address. It may even turn out that the appropriate technology may not be an ECM platform or suite (horrors!). The reality is that to actually address business issues and provide long term ROI it’s going to take a combination of technology types to get the job done (a paperless claims processing solution I worked on used ECM, BPM, and CRM deployed on-premises and in the cloud).

I’m not saying for a minute that ECM platforms have no value. They absolutely do if they are used the right way and hidden out of sight. ECM platforms ought to be like referees in hockey: critical to the game but no one really wants them to be the star.

The industry is having a bit of a re-think about where ECM fits in organizations, and what its role ought to be. Legacy ECM vendors like OpenText, IBM, Oracle, and EMC have been (collectively) rejigging for a few years now through product development, partnerships, and acquisitions. Relative newcomers like Syncplicity and Box are transforming how one achieves ECM-ness. Even some Enterprise File Sync & Share (EFSS) pure players have to be taken seriously when you think about the totality of what ECM really is. Companies like Egnyte and Accellion absolutely play a role in managing and governing content across an organization.

Think about this parting point: ECM is more a state of mind & being than it is a single product category. ECM-ness is not achieved by ECM products alone.

BoxWorks 2015 – My Thoughts


2015-10-03_001BoxWorks 2015 ran from September 28th to September 30th in San Francisco. Day 1 was for us analyst types and for CIO’s; the general conference ran on the 29th and 30th. Attendance numbers that I heard ranged from 6,000 to 9,000 – I have no clue how accurate these numbers are. Anyways, here’s my thoughts on some of the key announcements / moments, from my perspective … Oh, this Box post has all the goods from the event …

Aaron Levie’s fireside chats with Tim Cook, John Chambers, Ed Catmull – The Tim Cook chat was, I think, one of the most anticipated events of the conference for many people. It was good, nothing special for me. The chat with John Chambers, however, was the one that I found resonated most with me. I missed all but the last 5 minutes of the chat with Ed Catmull.

Best comment at the afterparty – “Is that One Direction?” For what it’s worth, One Republic is way better live than I thought they’d be. Too bad I only got to see them for about 30 of their 90 minute show.

Realization on the way home – Over the last 18 months or so I’ve met a lot of people from Box, either in person or on the phone. There’s not one where I’ve come away from meeting them thinking “what a dick.” That’s pretty impressive.

Jeetu Patel actually categorized Box as ECM during the analyst summit. He’s the first Box exec (I think) that actually made that statement.

I reminded Whitney Bouck that earlier this year I referred to Box as being part of the information governance landscape and that she wasn’t thrilled when I said that. She just smiled at me.

Proof that some people still don’t get it

alanlepo not getting it

That some people (analysts, even) are still including Box in the same category as Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, Egnyte, etc. is, I dunno, stupid, I guess.

Announcements

Box Capture – see my quick review here.

Better image / video support in previewer – Box announced enhancements for interacting with 3D, video, and DICOM images directly within the Box previewer. The DICOM bit doesn’t interest me much, but it is impressive. The 3D and video (up to 4K, adapts to bandwidth issues) enhancements are going to be a big deal for the clients I deal with. Training, safety, and technical content will benefit hugely. Marketing, sales, media & entertainment, … any use case that relies on rich content and the ability to collaborate on it is going to benefit. Oh, and all this is delivered in HTML5.

Box Platform – In my opinion, the announcements about Box Platform and its separation from Box’s product group are huge. I know I got excited when Box made their original platform announcement (last year?), but now I think we’re really going to see the fruits of that decision.

Platform’s going to allow app developers, including Box, to focus on providing functionality to their users without having to worry about all the content services and security stuff (i.e.: pesky infrastructure stuff) in the back end. Jeetu Patel (SVP Platform & Chief Strategy Officer) estimates that folks building content apps spend about 80% of their time buggering about with infrastructure related stuff and only about 20% building the core functionality that users want/need. Now, I don’t think app developers will ever get to spend 100% of their time on only the core functionality, but even a 20% increase (very conservative, IMO) would yield significant benefits. Time to delivery, innovation, creativity, and quality would all improve.

The impact to corporate IT is going to be significant as well. To all you CIO’s and IT execs hesitant about cloud because in reality you’re worried about being marginalized or losing power / relevance: get over yourselves. The opportunity is there for you to shift from fixing printers and patching outdated systems that are barely able to stand up anyways to actually becoming MORE relevant by adding value to your organization and delivering functionality (apps) that add business value. And I strongly urge you to check out what John Chambers had to say. Read it however many times you need to to get it (this goes for the couple analysts that claimed Box is not a platform, as well).

This tweet from Jeetu Patel sums up nicely what the impact will be to users and developers:

Jeetu Tweet

Something else that makes Platform such a compelling story is that users won’t even know that they’re interacting with Box. They’ll simply use an app to get their work done, and all the content services will be in the back end. In many (most?) cases there won’t even be a need for users to have a Box account. IMO, this path leads to delivering on the original promise of Enterprise Content Management.

Content Management & Collaboration – There’s a lot in this bunch of stuff announced by Whitney Bouck (GM, Enterprise & SVP, Global Marketing), so I’m just going to focus on the stuff that really stands out to me.

The whole Box/IBM thing is “f**king brilliant”, as I said to a couple of Box and IBM execs at some high falutin’ gathering. Remember when I said that a hybrid approach was needed? Well, the Box/IBM partnership provides EXACTLY that. Box+Content Navigator and Box+StoredIQ (is it pronounced stored ick?) provide a unified view into Box and on-premises content, along with the ability to do some analysis, tagging, discovery, and classification. It’s boring stuff from an apps point of view, but for being able to put together an information governance strategy it’s absolutely critical and kinda sexy.

Box and IBM are working together on further integrations, including Datacap and Case Manager. There’s going to be a whole bunch more use cases that open up to them with these integrations. It’s not that Box couldn’t participate in these use cases previously, it just couldn’t be done end-to-end. Now, to the users’ benefit, there’s really no reason to jump into another tool to execute any portion. Human resources, mortgage & lending, claims management, incident investigations, etc. will all be able to be executed from within a single UI, regardless of whether the content is on-prem or in the cloud. That’s friggin’ cool. Oh, and the IBM MobileFirst for iOS is gonna have a pretty big impact on the whole Box partnership thing, too.

Hmm, I wonder if there’s any plan to hook Datacap to Box Capture. If not, THERE SHOULD BE. At the very least there should be some plans on the roadmap to provide similar capabilities.

Storage & Security – Perhaps some of the most significant announcements at the conference relate to changes in security and storage options.

Box’s Enterprise Key Management (EKM) announcement earlier this year was key (no pun intended) in eliminating some security concerns about moving content to the cloud. However, it turns out that EKM is expensive and a bit of a chore to configure and manage. In order to alleviate those concerns Box announced that, next year, customers will be able to use Amazon’s AWS Key Management System. This changes things from a hardware appliance based approach to a software based approach, without sacrificing security. It ought to make things less expensive and cumbersome for customers.

The one thing I don’t like about the whole key management thing is that customers lose the benefit of full text search. The partial solution to that is to rely on metadata for searching.

In the coming quarters customers are going to be able to choose from among three storage partners for storing their Box content (I think we can all guess who they are). In addition to storage provider flexibility, this will eventually afford customers the option of where (think data residency) to store their Box content. There are some details still to be worked out, but this could be massive for organizations that have operations across multiple jurisdictions and have to deal with a myriad of data residency issues. I fully expect that as time marches on there will be more choices for customers.

Between the EKM changes and the storage flexibility, I foresee the day when customers will be able to choose what gets stored where, and what portion of their content gets secured via the key management solution (it’s currently an all or nothing proposition).

The Crystal Ball – This was one of my favourite sessions. A bunch of folks from Box’s product team presented a bunch of stuff that: 1) will be delivered this year; 2) will be delivered next year; 3) may not even get on the roadmap (exploratory stuff, you know). All I’ll say is that there’s nothing I saw that shouldn’t make it into the product at some point, with one exception. But, it’s all about priorities, babies.

Some Concerns

Metadata – Much of the good stuff that was announced is going to rely on having really solid metadata. Regardless of the release of Metadata Template Editor earlier this year (my thoughts about that), applying metadata to content in Box is still a huge pain and needs to be automated. I know Box is thinking about this and I hope that they deal with it sooner rather than later.

Services – Box is going to need to beef up their services organization. Even a year ago I think they could get away with having a roster of consultants that are almost exclusively technical in nature; that’s all changed. Between the IBM partnership and stepping out of EFSS into ECM, they’re going to need a services group that includes ECM and information governance SME’s, business solutions folks, and some other non-technical skill sets. Will they do this via partnerships or by bringing the skills in-house? I don’t know and I don’t think it makes a huge difference. All I know is that they need to do it fast.

As I said during the conference:

BoxSolnTweet

Box is going to need a services organization to support that.

Anti-Big Blue – The Box/IBM partnership has accelerated Box’s ability to provide ECM and information governance capabilities. However, for whatever reasons some organizations simply will not have anything to do with IBM (I know, weird, huh?). However, these organizations are still going to need the same capabilities. Will Box take steps to provide these capabilities or forego the opportunities?

Box Capture – Quick Review


Box CaptureOne of the things announced this week at BoxWorks was Box Capture. Box Capture is a little iOS app that lets users upload pictures and videos from their phones and iPads directly to a specified folder in Box.

So what? I can already do that.

Yes, you can. However, there is a subtle difference between just loading photos and videos from your device’s storage into a Box folder via the Box iOS app and using Box Capture. That difference is that with Box Capture the photos and videos are never stored on the device itself. It’s a minor thing, but for certain use cases could prove to be very beneficial.

Any use case in which content security and privacy are important would benefit. If the device is lost or otherwise compromised, there’s no longer the risk of someone getting access to content they shouldn’t (assuming you don’t leave yourself logged in to Box via the main app). It’s also handy for those that have limited capacity on their devices.

From an ease-of-use perspective it’s as easy to use as you’d expect of anything from Box. If your use case requires removing the photo or video from your device, Box Capture saves you a step or two. It’s not a big deal for one off’s or occasional use, but if it’s something that you do a lot, it could turn out to be significant.

UPDATE: As I was on the first of my two flights home today, I thought about how cool it would be if the new app had some sort of offline capability wherein I could take a picture and it would plunk it into the selected folder once I was online again. So I took a couple of pics to see what would happen. Initially, nothing. Once I was back on the ground and had a reliable signal, well, to my delight those pics I took on the plane suddenly appeared where I had wanted them to. Pretty slick. Keep in mind that my phone was in airplane mode the entire time; I don’t know what the result would be if I’d turned my phone off (does anyone actually do that?).

UPDATE TOO: If you set review to “on” (see the image), Box Capture allows you to change the file name and add a comment before the picture or video is saved to the selected folder. It also presents a list of recently selected folders. And in keeping with keeping things slick and fast, the picture files are saved in .png format.

Box Capture UI

#5Thoughts – Mixed Bag for the week of Sept 21


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No single theme was worthy of 5 Thoughts this week, so here’s a mixed bag of stuff.

1.   Cloud Security still a concern

On September 16th I spoke at an event in Calgary, hosted by Box and Skyhigh Networks (the video and slides, if you’re interested). My presentation was about using cloud to enable innovation, but the discussion that followed focused primarily on security. Specifically, that an org’s data centre is more secure than a cloud provider’s. Uhm, no.

2.   AIIM Road Trip – Calgary

On September 22nd I attended the Calgary session of AIIM’s 2015 Road Trip. The theme was the whole going paperless thing. It got me thinking …

Almost every project that I’ve been involved in or heard about that involved getting paper out of processes didn’t go far enough. Sure, they scanned the incoming docs (invoice, application form, cheque, whatever), but then the process reverted to what they used to do with paper. Stop that. When org’s go to the effort to eliminate paper, they also have to get rid of the whole circulation, review, approve steps where possible.

For example:

I worked on a project for an auto insurance company a few years ago. They were attempting to remove paper from their claims processing. One of their largest sources of paper was from car rental companies. Their initial approach was to have invoices submitted as email (attachments and body, depending on rental company). It was a good move, but still involved too much human intervention. My advice to them, which they followed, was to talk to the rental companies and get them to send over data batches, to be ingested by my client’s solution. They called, the three rental companies with the largest volumes agreed (hell, it saved them time and money, too), and my client ended up saving USD$250K annually. Development and testing was a total of 2 ½ days.

3.   I Wasn’t Expecting That

Back in April I posted this case study about a client of mine. At the time that I submitted the report I had no expectation that my client would do anything with it. After all, during the final presentation the message about “managing information is not a priority for this year” was quite bluntly delivered. As it turns out, a government audit that impacts public finding soon changed some of my client’s priorities.

I’m happy that the client is taking action based on the report I delivered (with Laurence Hart’s help). It’s a shame, but not unexpected, that it took negative findings to get the ball rolling. Oh when will they learn that it’s so much better and cost effective to be proactive about these things?

No, KS, I don’t think I called you “sad and tragic”.

4.   Data Residency

During the aforementioned AIIM Road Trip, one of the presenters mentioned something about data residency and how they could point to providers with Canadian presence (mostly small players, is my understanding). The issue I have is that it continues to cave to the FUD. There are very few circumstances under which Canadian organizations must, by law, have data reside in Canadian data centres. Before going and selecting a provider based on FUD and misinterpretation of requirements / regulations, find out what the real facts are and go from there.

5.   BoxWorks & Scanners

BoxWorks 2015 is next week and someone needs to build a scanner the automatically shreds the originals, then burns them as they come out.

#5Thoughts – Mixed Bag for the week of Sept 7


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No single theme was worthy of 5 Thoughts this week, so here’s a mixed bag of stuff.

1.   Oil is the new oil

Theo Priestly’s “____ is the new oil” tweet last week (?) got me thinking about the amount of hyperbole and bovine excrement that spews forth from the minds of many technology content marketers. The way some of these people market their products reminds me of ads for products like perfume, luxury holidays, and erectile dysfunction pills (if your irritation lasts more than 4 hours go berate a tech marketer and have a drink). Get real. You’re flogging technology to run businesses. There’s no new oil. It’s the same old stuff just with better ways to collect and use it. Say that.

2.   Uber

Uber is interesting to me because I have ties to the taxi industry – I used to drive one. In urban centres the taxi industry needs a huge shakeup, and Uber may be the catalyst. I’m not going to get into all that’s wrong or right with the industry except to say that most cab drivers are hard-working individuals and will be hugely, negatively impacted by Uber if there is no regulation imposed. And don’t blame the drivers for the state of the industry; they have far less control over the state of affairs than you might think.

The City of Edmonton is proposing a bylaw that would let Uber operate legally. I’ve read the proposed bylaw and think it’s pretty reasonable. The linked news article contains links to City of Edmonton resources, including the proposed bylaw.

Another news article (from CTV) reports that a Canadian insurance company is working on products that would allow Uber to satisfy insurance requirements in Canada.

Personally, I think that the taxi industry is long overdue for change. That said, I’m not in favour of Uber or anyone else coming in and disrupting it without any form of regulation and protection (for passengers and drivers).

If I could figure out the revenue model and clean my Shaggin’ Wagon (Dodge Grand Caravan) I’d probably give being an Uber driver a try just to compare to my previous experience.

3.   Apple

On September 9, 2015 Apple made some announcements.

4.   Where’s the “Enterprise”?

I had a chat this morning with a friend of mine who happens to be the Canadian Public Sector rep for a large ECM vendor. Long story short – almost everyone involved in ECM purchasing and deployment has no clue about what “enterprise’ really means. Most of them figure it’s a technology buy and implementation. And people wonder why ECM’s not living up to its often overblown hype.

5.   un-FUD

I read a (vendor) whitepaper yesterday about the need for enterprise grade file synchronization and sharing solutions. It. Was. Bad.

I’ll give the paper credit for trying to get rid of some of the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) related to storing business critical content in cloud repositories, but that’s about the only positive thing I can say. The paper’s about two years late and presents a lot of incorrect information about data sovereignty, especially in connection to the U.S.’s PATRIOT Act and whose information can and cannot be subjected to government snoopery.

Nope, not gonna link or give you any info about the paper. Your heads’d explode. Truly.

5 Thoughts – Box Included in Forrester Wave for ECM


sand-716660_1280On August 28th The Forrester Wave™ for Enterprise Content Management (Business Content Services, Q3) was released[1]. I’ve been saying for a while that some of the EFSS vendors, Box among them, are going to be part of the next generation of ECM platforms. It pleases me greatly that at least one analyst firm agrees with me.

I’ve included a chart showing the vendor rankings, based on Forrester’s scores. I’ve included the summarized MARKET PRESENCE score, as well as the detailed scores for Revenue and Customers & Markets; I’ve got a reason for doing that.

Without further ado, here’s some thoughts I have about Box’s inclusion in Forrester’s ECM Wave.

  1. CURRENT OFFERING: Box ranked 9th out of 11. The low ranking is no surprise given Box’s relative immaturity in the ECM space. What does surprise me is that it beat SharePoint 2013, and that it’s pretty close to Alfresco and EMC. As much as I dislike SP as an ECM platform, I do think it should have been ranked higher than Box.
  2. STRATEGY: Box was ranked 1st. Given who else is included in the Wave that’s a fairly significant accomplishment. Now, before any of us get too excited, having a solid strategy and executing it are not the same things. Given the ECM stalwarts that are on the list I have to assume that Box outscored them because of focus (I mean, look at the bags of tricks that ECM, OpenText, IBM have to throw at something). Will this hurt Box’s current offering scores in Waves to come? Dunno. The surprise to me in this bit is how low Alfresco scored.
  3. MARKET PRESENCE – Revenue: Box is 5th with a score of 3.9/5, which kinda has me scratching my head a bit. They were beaten by EMC (4.1/5), IBM (5/5), Microsoft (5/5), and OpenText (4.9/5). If the scores are reflective of current fiscal year revenues, why isn’t Wall Street showing Box more love? If not, maybe Forrester needs a bigger scale for this bit.
  4. MARKET PRESENCE – Customers & Markets: Box tied for 5th with Lexmark. Depending on how Forrester calculated the revenue scores, and Box’s business model, I’d expect this year’s customers & markets score to impact (positively) next year’s revenue score. A big question I have on this score is whether or not Box’s non-paying customers made up some of the market score.
  5. The main thing to take away from the Forrester report is that Box was included. I’ve been calling for them to be seen as ECM rather than EFSS for a while now, so I’m obviously happy with the outcome. Frankly, even if Box hadn’t been included in the final 11 but had been mentioned in the “Explore Other ECM Vendors …”, that would have been a huge step in the right direction. So, yeah, I told you so.

Forrester ECM Vendor Ranking

[1] You can download the full report from the vendors that are caught in the wave or head to Forrester and buy it.

5 Thoughts – Mixed Bag for Aug 23 to Aug 29


duck-416972_1280Based on the response to my two previous “5 Thoughts” type posts, I’m taking a shot at doing this on a weekly basis. Depending on what strikes me during the week I’ll either post five thoughts on a single theme or, like this week, chuck up a mixed bag. I’d love to get your thoughts / feedback.

  1. Reading this Financial Times interview with Aaron Levie it struck me that the speed of change to what he and others see as the obvious future is not being helped by procurement processes and buying cycles that haven’t markedly changed in decades.
  2. I’m working with a partner, responding to an RFP for a new project at an existing client. Their rules state that any capital projects must be in production by the end of the calendar year in order for them to recoup costs the following year. The original RFP deadline was August 14th, the new deadline is September 8th. The scope and in-production cut-off haven’t changed. I’m considering asking them to delay December 31st by two months.
  3. Based on some of the comments I’ve received on that Innovation-Transformation-Metadata post I wrote last week, too many people are stuck in a 1990’s mental model of managing content. Whatever, we’ll progress whether you like it or not.
  4. Thinking about wearables, the Internet of Things, and last season’s NHL All Star Game it struck me that putting sensors into players’ helmets to measure impact from falls and checks would be a good thing to help with managing/preventing brain injuries. Probably a good idea for the NFL, too.
  5. Stop looking for a big bang. Start with small “i” innovation, prove it out, get the big “I” innovation later. Just start.
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