Postal regulations matter. The US and most other countries are moving to 'shape-based pricing', which means that postal prices will now reflect the size of the mail being sent, not just its weight or delivery terms. Why is this happening? And do we care? It's happening because the postal regulators have boned up on economics and discovered an amazing thing: their costs are very much related to their machinery's ability to handle volume automatically (no humans). I'll refrain from the usual postal references here.
Often when I order takeout food, the restaurants know who I am right away — as if I was a member of the family. At some restaurants, my son placed the order regularly in the past and they will ask about him, "Is Justin okay? Why isn't he placing the order today?" They will leverage the information in my record to make the order simpler. "So you take the plain nan with that?"
If these small establishments with limited resources have this kind of personalized service, why is it that the biggest financial institutions in the world seem to not have any idea who I am? And if I want to extend my business with them, why do I need to start from scratch?
Information managers I speak with struggle to address these pain points in external communications with customers, clients, citizens, agents, and stores; account opening is near the top of the list of pain points. It exists at the lonely edge of the business process where the company interacts with the client — where information bounces between a company's firewall and the customer's domain — but why is this so difficult?
I spent a fine day at Hyland Software with A.J. Hyland and his team at the Hyland Software annual partnership conference last week. I'd have to say A.J.'s been a bit riled up of late. He admits to having a large chip on his shoulder — analysts and others have been telling him for years that the smallish pure play vendor will have trouble competing, and they make a good case. Consolidation continues and Microsoft Office 2007 is creating confusion for ECM buyers and more fodder for industry watch dogs.
Yet Hyland has grown revenues consistently and has been profitable for years. I speak to information and knowledge management professionals every day and one thing is constant: they are trying to buy solutions that solve problems. And most care little about who is buying who; they care even less about whether an ECM provider is part of a big company positioning for infrastructure of a medium size pure play emphasizing applications and vertical markets. Most companies are like the homeowner that wants a better shower but doesn't really care whether the underlying pipes are PVC or cooper.
I recently spoke with an IT manager who came up with a great analogy for a problem I continue to see in the WCM space. He was telling me about how much customization his team has needed to do while implementing a WCM solution, and how he expected some features to be more out-of-the box, like advanced content authoring tools. He commented, “At Christmas time, the vendor sent us one of those gift baskets that vendors sometimes send. You know what those baskets are usually like - wine, cheese, candy. But you know what they sent us in this year’s basket? Brownie mix. We had to bake our own holiday gift. I wanted to call them up and tell them, ‘This is exactly what is wrong with your product!’"
I owe the title of this blog entry to my San Francisco-based peer, Rob Koplowitz. Why? Well, he has a quicker wit than I do.... Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest professional basketball player of all time, felt he could translate his incredible hand/eye coordination and skills to the sport of baseball when he first retired. The result? He played a few games in the minor leagues, drew a ton of attention, but never came close to the success he had in basketball.