HP’s plans to acquire Exstream combined with EMC’s intent to buy Document Sciences demonstrates that output management for transactional content is becoming critical to many large organizations. But how do you rationalize these two acquisitions? First let’s look at EMC. They add to their consistently improving transactional content assets. Whether it involves invoice processing, account notices and policies for insurance, or new account opening, DOM gives EMC more complete support of the document lifecycle. More to the point, Forrester’s predicted growth in Interactive DOM is very important for the major ECM players. Interactive DOM makes more use of ECM then Structured applications that are essentially batch processes with little human involvement. Interactive applications need human-centric business process management to help author, store, version, and manage content dynamically. EMC can now link their broad ECM platform to Document Sciences for this emerging area.
In October of last year, I published "Give DOM its Due" and argued that for years, document output management (DOM) had been pegged as a back-office operation that produces customer statements and bills. And that now, customer experience demands will thrust DOM into a major software category supporting the growing and diverse content that enterprises must assemble and deliver to customers. A few weeks ago EMC purchased Document Sciences. And now on January 22, HP has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Exstream Software, a privately-held provider of document creation and publishing software for print, mail and online channels. HP expects to close on this transaction in the second quarter of HP's 2008 fiscal year.
Exstream continues to be a leading choice for the high-volume segment of the DOM structured market and will greatly strengthen HPs document automation capability. Initially targeting service providers — a tough crowd — Exstream followed an object-oriented development model to allow re-use of document components, which was quickly adopted by service providers to provide similar applications to many customers. Today's focus is heavily in the interactive and on-demand DOM segments with strong direct sales. While revenue numbers were not available, Exstream has 300plus employees.
While market drivers like compliance, eDiscovery, and risk management get a lot of press (and point to great opportunity for records management), the fact is that many organizations are not ready for full-blown RM programs. Why? Mostly due to organizational immaturity — not correctly aligning roles, responsibilities, and budget ownership (for more on this, click here). But there is also the problem of mutliple repositories containing records; organizations struggle with the question of moving records to a central repository or investigating federated RM.
Ever think about how much time, energy and money we expend on managing line of business data? Just drive past the Oracle headquarters in Redwood Shores and you'll see a glimmering green city of glass all built on revenue from managing business data. OK, they make some money in other areas these days, but the emerald city was build on database revenue. Managing structured information is key to the success of any organization. The number in the bottom line needs to be accurate or very bad things happen.
On the other side of the coin lives unstructured information. While some unstructured information has been afforded the respect given to structured business data (engineering drawings, legal documents, pharmaceutical documentation, insurance claims documents to name few) the vast majority has languished virtually unmanaged in file servers and on PC hard drives. Even companies with the right resources and motivation, like Oracle which has the ability to manage structured and unstructured data in its database as well applications to take advantage of both, have made only minimal progress at bridging these disparate worlds.
I recently co-presented at a workshop on eDiscovery. Before I spoke about what enterprises are doing about exploding discovery costs and the fragmented solutions landscape, a very experienced corporate general counsel spoke to the IT-heavy audience. The theme of his presentation was "help a lawyer today." That's right CIOs and IT project managers - your legal team is not going to tell you how to handle eDiscovery. You are going to be responsible for effeciently and defensibly collecting information in response to regulatory and legal requests. In fact, legal is relying on your expertise in technologies to better manage information.
The moral of the story is that IT must take the leadership role in creating a formal, cross-functional team and process for managing eDiscovery. Don't fret - here's a few cheat sheets to get you started:
At the AIIM show in mid April, Xerox Global Services gathered a number of information management industry pundits to talk about issues related to eDiscovery. The conversation shed light on myriad issues that organizations face to meet the requirements of the newly amended Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). You can listen to a podcast of the discussion here. The major points of note:
Adobe has put an end to much speculation, announcing that it will take Flex into the open source realm and make the source and documentation available under the Mozilla Public License. This move certainly ratchets up the battle between Flex and Microsoft’s Silverlight technology — both are used to create rich Internet apps. Microsoft has targeted Flash and Flex, so Adobe apparently has come to believe that open source is the best option for gaining ubiquity for Flex. Traditionally, Microsoft has had the edge with developers; Adobe with designers. Adobe is clearly hoping this move will shake that up.
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!’"
Last spring, Forrester introduced the concept of retention management, which extends records management to all content from creation through long-term retention and destruction (check out the Retention Management document).Seems simple enough, but with so many repositories of information (hard drives, network file shares, SharePoint sites, email servers and archives, and any number of managed repositories) extending retention policies to all of it is all but impossible.
To get a sense of how organizations address retention management, I reached out to approximately 300 companies for a research interview, figuring maybe 10 would be willing to speak about what they are doing.In an indication of how hot the topic is, over 30 companies wanted to speak further.Having conducted about half the interviews so far, it’s clear we are at the very beginning of the learning curve for retention management.
Something really big is happening. Many companies and even software vendors aren’t aware of it because they’re so busy trying to get their arms around content—put it in repositories, integrate the repositories, manage corporate records, get people to stop emailing documents around—that they’re way too busy to see the ground shifting underneath their feet. This groundswell is about putting content to work—and that means, quite simply, doing something with the content that’s being managed so it creates business advantage.
For years, enterprises, vendors, integrators, consultants and others (including me) have strived mightily to get content under control. It’s still a massive problem: there’s so much content — written documents, presentations, email, web pages, spreadsheets, graphics, videos, podcasts . . . the list goes on — and it’s in every filing cabinet, drawer, hard disk and memory stick. Even today, after years of investing in document imaging, document management, collaboration, and web content management systems, most content is not locked down, versioned and searchable using metadata or tags. But it’s time to move on — “simply” (that’s a laugh) managing content isn’t enough.