Monday, March 26, 2012

The Future of Content Management

Last week, I had the privilege to participate in a panel at the new AIIM 2012 Conference in San Francisco. The conference was a smashing success for AIIM, selling out weeks in advance and attracting the who-is-who in the content management industry. My panel was titled the Future of Content Management and my fellow panelists were Roland Benedetti, VP of Products at Nuxeo and Robin Daniels, Head of Enterprise Product Marketing at Box who was standing in for Whitney Tidmarsh Bouck, the head of enterprise business at Box. The session was moderated by Laurence Hart, the CIO of AIIM and Cheryl McKinnon,  AIIM’s CMO - both of whom were an essential element to the success of the session.
The goal of the session was to debate the future of Content Management and sure enough, all of the panelists had an opinion about SoLoMo and also cloud, big data and other trends. Prior to the conference, we stated our views in writing which Laurence has published on his blog. But while everyone kept talking about the of cloud, mobility, and user experience, the selection of panelists alone suggested that a different question was hanging in the air.

The panelists represented a traditional vendor (OpenText), a cloud vendor (Box) and an open source vendor (Nuxeo). The elephant in the room was not the technologies of the future but rather the business models.

As for the technologies, everyone agrees on the key trends. What’s important to mention though is that the given 3-5 year time frame for the future was relatively short. At OpenText, we have roadmaps and business plans that go at least 3 years out - we have a pretty good idea what capabilities we plan to deliver in our software. At the same time, anyone who tries to predict the future 5-10 years out and whose name is not Steve Jobs or Bill Gates is probably just making things up. After all, the smartphone didn’t exist 5 years ago, not to mention the iPad.

But back to the business models. The big question hanging in the air was what will the future bring in terms of a business model. Is every piece of software going to be replaced by the cloud? Will all software go open source? Are the on-premise (aka traditional) software vendors going to even exist a few year from now?

Well, my answer was very simple. I have met many enterprise customers and the one thing that I have learned is that almost no customer has ever managed to adopt a single stack or single vendor environment. The reality is that most enterprises have EVERYTHING. I’m not talking about the small or medium sized companies. I’m talking about enterprises with over $1 bln in revenue. They almost always have a mix of different environments, systems, architectures, and applications. It may be not the most efficient solution or the cleanest architecture, but it is the reality. Most enterprises have a lot of software in different stages of maturity and these past investments have to be leveraged.

My answer to the question which business model would prevail in the next 3-5 years was: all of them. Our customers have to find their place of comfort on the scale between all-in-the-cloud and all-on-premise. Most of them are already somewhere in between. Today, many companies in the US use ADP for their payroll which is a cloud-based offering. Many companies use cloud-based talent management or document sharing offerings today. But most enterprises have many on-premise applications today and they will have many 3-5 years from now. There will be a few extreme cases on each end of that scale but most enterprises will  find their comfort zone somewhere in between.

As for open source vs. well, “closed source”, I think a similar scale exists. I have explained before that customers fall into different categories in their desire to customize and enhance on their own vs deploy out of the box solutions. There are other similar scales, by the way. For example, customers will find their comfort zone on the social media scale between conservative and controlling vs. open and engaging.

The bottom line is that the future is not going to be black or white. The last few decades dominated by the Wintel architecture were an anomaly. It is not likely that we will see such dominant monopoly ever again - and that was just the desktops. No doubts about it, more and more services will move into the cloud because it just makes sense. Some services will only become available through the cloud and rest assured that vendors like OpenText are busy innovating their offerings to take advantage of the cloud. But real customers will have plenty of on-premise software to deal with. In the future of content management, we will deal with customers who each have a very different mix of requirements and the successful vendors will be able to cater to them all.

Many thanks to Laurence and Cheryl for inviting me to participate on this panel. It has been a great fun and AIIM put on an awesome conference. I hope to be there again next year, on March 20-22 in New Orleans!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

On Running, Technology, and Good Causes

I have recently become a runner - what started as a way to get back into shape after some injuries has now developed into a full-on midlife crisis.  Since I am training to run the Ottawa Marathon and raising money for a charity along the way, I wanted to write something about the technology related to running.

Boxing Day 10Miler, Hamilton
First, there are the fancy shoes and clothes which have evolved dramatically in the last years. Yes, that stuff is pretty high-tech and expensive too.  Basically, nobody runs in a t-shirt anymore - you need the latest and greatest dry-fit moisture whisk-away clothes and a pair of running shoes with extra support. That’s not to mention the fuel belts with high-tech nutrition from Gatorade to energy gels and recovery drinks.

But for us tech people, the gadgets are far more interesting. I run with a Garmin Forerunner 210 watch with a GPS receiver that also collects data from my foot chip and heart monitor. The foot pod measures my cadence, speed and distance when running indoors. Combined with the GPS based pace, speed, distance, elevation, and route and with the pulse data from my heart monitor, I am collecting more data on my watch than what Formula 1 cars were capable of just a few decades ago. Just check out the data from my recent race for the level of detail I get.

When training, I also run with my iPhone to listen to something that keeps my mind away from the miles. I usually listen to books from which I like better than some peppy music, although that’s a matter of personal preference. I use wireless earphones that connect to the iPhone via a Bluetooth connection. I tried regular ear-buds for a while but the cable was always getting tangled.

The next level of technology is available online. From plentiful training advice, race registration, pace calculators, and training plans, the Web is full of useful info. But what I find particularly motivating is the mutual sharing of training data on social media. Most of the running software such as Endomondo, MapMyRun, NikePlus, and Garmin Connect not only display and analyze the data but also enable sharing it via Facebook and Twitter.

Seeing my Facebook friends post info about their training runs is very motivating - knowing that they will see my own results makes me run harder. I know that the frequent posts might annoy and sometimes even demoralize the non-runners but please forgive us. It’s not like we are tweeting what we’ve had for dinner... Mutual encouragement for sport enthusiasts is a great use of social media!

Finally, the technology managed to transform another aspect of running - fund-raising. Running and other amateur sports have long been connected to fund-raising efforts for various charities. Today, services such as Razoo or Kintera make it very easy to set up a fundraiser for one’s favorite charity and take care of all the payment processing. They even send the donors a receipt for their tax deduction.

I am now in the middle of my training program for the Ottawa Marathon on May 27th. For this occasion, I have set up a fundraiser for the American Heart Association and the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation (trying to accommodate either tax jurisdiction for the bulk of my friends). Please check it out and donate to support my cause. Your contribution goes to a great charitable organization that helps fight heart disease. Your donations are the greatest motivation for me as I am getting ready for the big race. And, the technology enthusiast in you will appreciate how technology transformed even this part of our life...

Thank you!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Need for Privacy

The marketing guru Seth Godin wrote a blog post recently in which he claimed that the notion of privacy is an illusion and that we don’t really have any privacy today. He’s argues that people don’t really care about privacy - the only thing they care about is being surprised.

I’ve been thinking about this post and it has been bugging me. Yes, I do agree that we have less privacy than we often realize. I know that my bank knows how much I earn, my credit card company knows my spending habits, my doctor knows my health status, my mobile phone company knows where I travel, Facebook knows all my friends [who are on Facebook], and Google knows pretty much everything I’m up to.

But that information is compartmentalized. My bank doesn’t know my spending habits. My mobile plan provider doesn’t know what I am searching for online and my insurance company doesn’t know my exact health status. It is important that it remains that way. The triangulation of information is the real danger. If my mortgage company gets access to my health records, that’s bad. If my mobile plan provider got access to my friends, that’s not cool.

I accept that my physician knows my health and I accept that my credit card company knows where I shop for clothes. I trust that they will treat my data with confidentiality because their survival as a business depends on that. Whether regulated by law or by market forces, every business has to treat its customers’ data with confidentiality. A doctor who doesn’t keep patients’ privacy confidential, breaks the law and won't be a doctor for much longer. A cell phone company that discloses whom I am calling without a court order breaks the law and has to be punished.

It is the triangulation of data that makes me really worried. When a harmless-looking iPhone app starts collecting info from other apps, that’s not a surprise as Seth Godin calls it. That’s a criminal activity. Just as if my doctor started sharing my medical records with my life insurance provider would be.

We do care about privacy. There is a different degree of privacy awareness among different demographics, likely depending on their culture, education, and other factors. Forrester Research recently published a global heat map on Privacy and Data Protection by Country which clearly shows that the US is below-par compared to many other countries - although still ahead of China and Nigeria. Clearly, some countries take privacy much more seriously than the US. But even in the US, we care about privacy and we want it really bad.

Forrester Research: Privacy and Data Protection by Country
Having companies provide me with service and collecting detailed information about certain parts of my life along the way is OK. But swapping that info with other companies is unacceptable.