Submitted by Bob Larrivee Director/Industry Advisor – AIIM
I had an opportunity recently to
discuss our industry with Cheryl McKinnon, Chief Marketing Officer for Nuxeo.
Cheryl has more
than 16 years experience in Enterprise Content Management and a keen interest
in the challenges facing information workers in the increasingly electronic and
online work environment with a focus on current and emerging trends in
information management, social media for business and the rise of open source.
Here are excerpts of our conversation.
Bob: Please describe your company and role.
Cheryl: I joined Nuxeo as their first Chief Marketing Officer in September 2009. Nuxeo is a Paris headquartered ECM company, in its second full year of North American operations after a decade of success in Europe. My team and I look after all aspects of global marketing – corporate marketing, field marketing, product marketing and partner marketing.
Nuxeo uses an open source software development model. We derive our value not from license sales, but from helping clients successfully deploy their content management applications. Our business model is built around revenue derived from the sales of maintenance and support subscriptions, supplemented by training and professional services.
We are often asked: where can Nuxeo fit in this consolidating and commoditized ECM market? Our response is that we are on the forefront of the next wave of ECM vendors. Products built in the 1990s are now reaching the natural end of their useful product lifecycle. Our focus is investing in the technical strength of our underlying platform – our Nuxeo Enterprise Platform is built specifically to be extended and embedded in any number of 21st century content applications. Content is now created in the world of mobile, social, open and interoperable; it's the world we have been architected to meet.
Bob: What do you think are some of the important issues facing business organizations today? (Technology and/or non-technology)
Cheryl: Businesses are constantly challenged to find balance between opposing forces. The rapid disconnect between inexpensive or free consumer applications and clunky, complex enterprise applications has forced companies to adapt and welcome some disruption or retrench and become defensive. ECM vendors, unfortunately, have contributed to some of this confusion with the pervasive compliance as a cudgel message over the last few years. Now is the time for a new focus on content management as an enabler of safe collaboration and a platform by which business can become agile in the fast-paced information economy. Where do I see the key debates?
Closed vs. Open
This debate manifests itself in several places. For IT managers it is figuring out how and where open source products can be used to fast-track development projects and reassert more ownership over the technology platforms being used to solve their business problems, and becoming less dependent on closed source vendors who aren't investing in roadmap innovation. This will be interesting to watch over the next couple of years, as the IT acceptance of open source for infrastructure (operating systems, databases, utilities) moves into the realm of the information worker – enterprise content management, web content management, business intelligence, etc.
It's also the debate that influences much of the Enterprise 2.0 debate. Closed work processes, barriers between work teams, fear of disclosure to outside parties, lack of trust of information workers – the struggle to encourage information sharing not only across the organization, but into the extended marketplace of partners and customers is still causing angst in many corporations. Finding the right balance between lock down and sharing, distribution of information inside vs. outside the firewall is essential for each organization to figure out – and there is no one correct answer that fits every type of company.
Destroy vs. Preserve
The seek and destroy message inspired by the e-discovery market needs to be balanced with a respect for corporate memory. Of course companies ought to clean house of irrelevant paper and electronic content – get rid of the noise, reduce storage costs, eliminate burden of searching, sort and disclosure when legal issue arises. But at what point does sensible destruction of obsolete transactional content begin to erase the more substantive content that might have value we don't immediately see today?
This is perhaps more of an issue for public sector, but also for institutions and enterprises who shape our world – what value do we place on the needs of future institutional or corporate historians? At what point to we risk companies not being able to learn from past mistakes because the record has been wiped clean? The Records Management profession needs help their enterprises find the right balance between RM as a foundation for corporate memory preservation and RM as merely legal discovery smoking gun eraser.
Cut Costs vs. Invest for the Future
It's easy to slash costs by halting projects that don't contribute to today's bottom line. Over the last two years so many industries have had to make difficult decisions to cut staff and redirect resources to stay in business. Cuts that make sense are those that help flatten decision-making processes and help evolve into a leaner, more efficient business model. Businesses that successfully navigate the uncertainties of the last two years will be prepared to leave behind outdated assumptions about managing talent in the knowledge economy, will invest in technology to better connect and engage internally and externally, and will seek to be more responsive to their customer or citizen stakeholders.
Companies that really understand that they're in the knowledge economy will recognize that ECM can be a competitive advantage for them. Efficient collection, reuse, protection and distribution of their corporate work product will help them stay relevant and responsive. And we've entered an era where cost is no longer an inhibitor. The beauty of open source ECM is that organizations can get their project moving TODAY. There's no barrier to starting, regardless of where the budget approval sits. Zero cost to download and begin testing and prototyping means building a platform for corporate content applications can happen without the sales cycle theater charade imposed by the legacy vendors.
Bob: Based on your experience and findings, how do you feel business organizations can prepare?
Cheryl: Organizations can best prepare for any of the challenges described in the previous question by really analyzing where and how content drives their business. Tracing the flow of content through some of the most essential processes – thinking horizontally – can be an illuminating exercise. Mapping out the hand-off points between teams, figuring where defaulting to more open access removes workflow steps, helping demonstrate dependencies across business units – this can form the basis for innovative redesign of internal processes.
Companies that are still stuck in the proverbial content silos are those that tend to be structured vertically – whether because of org chart or technology choices limit content re-use. If organizations can map out those most essential business processes: procurement, lead generation, product design, customer service, or others inside their specific industry value chain, and understand where content gets created or consumed along the way, it becomes easier to envision applications to support the business. Content needs to be viewed across its natural business lifecycle – not just its disposition lifecycle once it loses its relevance.
Bob: What future role do you see for education for vendors, systems integrators and users?
Cheryl: ECM education can be most valuable when it helps connect the technical, business and governance interests that often are cohesive inside an organization. We've been talking about the importance of cross-functional planning teams for years, but I think the time is right to keep accelerating this message. More and more business users are tech-savvy: the rise of the web for personal and consumer use, of social networks and low cost laptops and smart phones means people are far more open to engaging with technology when the purpose is clear. Designing and deploying clear, meaningful applications with well-articulated purpose – ie, 'why' content needs to be managed to meet the needs of the business – will lead to success.
This approach also directly supports the need to look at content horizontally – from its creation/capture, through revision and collaboration cycles, to publication through multiple channels, to sensible retention, preservation or disposal phases. Thinking of the technical, business and legal/governance issues as three layers across a horizontal process rather than three separate spheres is where education can help shape better ECM success.
I've always believed that education is the primary purpose of marketing. Helping organizations think about their content management challenges and making them aware of possibilities to improve their business.
One of the areas of ECM education I intend to develop over 2010 is to be vocal about the fact that some of the assumptions we adopted in the 1990s that are no longer relevant. ECM needs to be for everyone. The 2006 Federal Rules of Civil procedure affirmed this: it no longer matters whether a company is big, small, private or publicly traded. Everyone has the challenge of electronically stored information that might be subject to legal disclosure one day.
Thus, ECM has necessarily become a commoditized technology space – Microsoft Sharepoint has done wonderful things by getting basic content management features and concepts into the hands of mainstream business users. And the new generation of open, interoperable, flexible ECM platforms, such as Nuxeo, will expand to fill the gaps for more complex or unique content management applications far more rapidly than the rigid, closed, heavy footprint architectures of last-century products.
Bob: Do you have any other insights for our readers?
Cheryl: I can't remember the last time the ECM world has been so full of excitement and potential. This is a fascinating place to be, and career opportunities for IT or business professionals who want to invest in this space I believe will abound. This is a great time for AIIM's education program to help drive ECM into its next phase.
I'd like to see open source ECM drive entirely new sources of demand for content management professionals. Working with organizations that previously didn't deploy because of the very high up-front costs, or with organizations that want to have more control over their application building and customizations, with domain experts who want to design entirely new vertical applications for specific industry use cases, and with companies that are already technically savvy and don't want to sit idly, waiting for vendors to get around to their enhancement requests... this is the new world of opportunity that now opened up.
Thank you for sharing your views with me and our audience. I wish you and Nuxeo all the best and will be watching and listening as you progress.
Current Contact Information for Cheryl McKinnon – Chief Marketing Officer, Nuxeo
Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/in/cherylmckinnon
Bob Larrivee - AIIM
Email: Bob Larrivee – AIIM firstname.lastname@example.org
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