Bouncing among cognitive sessions and weaving though the crowds, it’s not clear what hurts the most, my feet or my brain. How much of this are we to believe? What is actually deployable, affordable, and usable by mere humans, and when? The cognitive exuberance at World of Watson (WOW) was certainly exhausting and even by tech conference standards, overplayed. IBM, it’s partners, and tech analysts were much better at painting the future vision then how to break that vision into an actionable sequence of steps to be followed.
And that’s one reason, IBM’s announcement of a new collaboration product, IBM Watson Workspace, got my attention. In short, it seems a practical solution to a really bad problem, our Digital Disorder. Not to sound Trump-esk, but our daily digital lives are quickly becoming a disaster. Workspace is a group messaging tool that uses Watson to help and is now available as a “pre-view “version, basically for folks to play with. While release plans are not totally baked, rumblings are that IBM will release it on a Fremium basis- taking a page from fast moving startups.
Does Workspace have a chance? It does and here’s why. Expertise routing, recommendations, and personal assistance are the new battleground for collaboration. Let’s call it people analytics. It is the last and most important mile of a less then sterling collaboration journey. Or to put it another way, cognitive may be the last hope to relieve the Digital Disorder we have created. .
EMC purchased Documentum in 2003 for $1.7 billion, a very high price tag at the time, and did not grow the core business. Today, the Enterprise Content Division (ECD) business unit consists of Documentum, next-generation content platform Project Horizon, and the archiving solution EMC InfoArchive. Core Documentum products include the Documentum platform, xCP and D2, midmarket ECM solution ApplicationXtender, Captiva, and Document Sciences xPression; additional products include Kazeon, MyDocumentum, and eRoom. A mix of aging and newer and aging technology but lots of customers, which is what OpenText seems intent on accumulating.
A Fresh Focus On Documentum Is Overdue
Documentum products received good ratings in five Forrester Wave evaluations, yet never realized their market potential under EMC. Their future with Dell only looked bleaker. OpenText acquisition gives hope.
A Spinoff Was The Best Hope
EMC is set to become a private company as funding for the deal comes from Michael Dell, private equity firm MSD Partners, and investment firm Silver Lake. As we said in November of 2015, Documentum will only prosper if it's spun into a separate, agile, and more strategically aligned entity. And with OpenText it has.
Customers Should Stay The Course, At Least Through 2017
Enterprises, in their quest to reduce labor costs, are applying RPA technologies. Yet they do not have a well-defined set of principles and best practices, including how to position RPA with other process tools and initatives. Today it may have become a bit more clear. Pega is the first tech provider, and only BPM market particpant of substance, to purchase an RPA provider (OpenSpan). The combination brings robotics, analytics, and case management together - and that makes sense. Think of Pega's process/rules capibility firing off a set of RPA scripts.
RPA in many respects is an alternative, some would say the polar opposite of Pega's current business model that feasts on the transformitive "big IT spend" for BPM, case management, automation, and customer service projects. RPA does not require invasive integration. It is a quick hit for automation, a “low touch” approach for process improvement for brittle legacy systems. The bottom line. Enterprises that employ labor on a large scale for process work can gain efficiencies by just automating repetitive human tasks for the “as is” process.
OpenSpan is nice pick-up for Pega that will help with back-office BPM work, but more so with contact center environments where the agent requires human and machine multitasking that often spans multiple windows and web applications, few of which are integrated with each other. Cumbersome process flows, rekeying of data, and lack of integration add up to lengthy call times, reduced accuracy, and an overall increase in customer frustration. Pega/OpenSpan will give Jacada and NICE a run for their money, and the future integration with Pega's analytics tracks where the RPA space is heading.
The enterprise collaboration (EC) landscape is rife with innovative products that begin with a narrow feature set (e.g., Box for document collaboration or Slack for group messaging). Viral growth and company value often follow — along with competitors that target the newly identified market. A fragmented and overlapping landscape results as newer entrants pursue broader EC goals. Over the next two years, firms will purchase enterprise collaboration in seven fundamentally different ways. The report below aims to helps companies sift through confusing use cases to best apply EC.
What did we find? Firstly, the torrent of information, lack of critical-mass adoption, and context switching create barriers to effective EC adoption, and secondly, platforms that support lead applications, targeted group messaging, project management tools, external communities, or just finding expertise in an organization are the winning formulae for many firms.
We are kicking off a research series on the future of work for "production services," with a focus on administrative and customer service jobs where a high degree of automation is projected. Basically, cognitive computing may do to white-collar jobs what robotics did to blue-collar jobs. This may lead to radically different work patterns and unintended consequences. Enterprises risk blindly bringing in advanced analytics without a best practice approach that covers change management and identifies gaps in the formerly human-driven process that affect compliance, customer experience, and efficiency. To date, few are doing serious thinking about a force that will lead to a restructuring of work that is more profound and far-reaching than the transition from the agricultural to the industrial age.
Please take or send this survey to businesses contemplating or using smart machines to augment human-based processes. They will receive a free copy of the report.
Nintex is expanding into the emerging cloud-based workflow market — by acquiring Drawloop, an Irvine, California-based document generation provider: http://www.nintex.com/company/news-press/news-archive/2015/nintex-acquires-drawloop. Drawloop is one of the top 10 paid apps in the Salesforce AppExchange, with more than 1,000 customers, yet relative to the core customer communications management (CCM) market that has matured in a batch world driven by large-print service-bureau requirements, it is an effective but "light" solution. It gets high marks for usability, where less often means more. And you are fine if all data comes out of Salesforce, but what if you need to combine it with other data from core systems? What if you have 10,000 templates to manage, and what if you need to visualize complex data associations or have large batches of documents to deliver routinely? We will look harder at these questions during the next CCM Forrester Wave™, which will include Drawloop as well as Conga and perhaps other emerging cloud solutions. Overall, this is a strong acquisition that positions Nintex's BPM capability more securely in the Microsoft and Salesforce cloud ecosystems.
This latest Lexmark move is harder to assess than previous major acquisitions. Give the Perceptive acquisition an A, Brainware a B -, and Pallas maybe a C+. The Kofax merger, on the other hand, has two legitimate views and lets start with the positive. Kofax has indeed assembled a range of complimentary components that fit well with Lexmark's market ambition. The key asset of interest is the TotalAgility (KTA) platform and its related components. These enhance Lexmark's process platform that was based on the Pallas, too low a market share and Perceptive’s document-focused workflow. KTA, by contrast, has a true case platform and is well integrated with the industry-leading capture platform. Kofax has never had been in the ECM space. They are now with one of the strongest. And the list goes on. Brainware will boost forms processing for Kofax' invoice processing customers. The AltoSoft BI tool adds analytics strength that Lexmark did not have. Data integration is improved with Kapow. A top E-Signature product (Softpro) and a growing CCM platform from AiA are all good pickups. These last two fit well with Lexmark’s transitioning MPS business.
The drawback here is that Kofax’s go to market positioning and execution is nowhere near complete, and needs entrepreneurial energy and execution to get there. Perhaps Lexmark can help - but Kofax will now be part of a larger company that has transition issues of its own. Perhaps more importantly, Lexmark may find itself devoting significant investment dollars to purchase a legacy document capture business that has moderate long term value. We estimate around $200m of Kofax’ current business derives from this market with revenue in this area more likely to decline then accelerate. Lexmark would then find itself devoting a lot of management attention to minimizing the impact of that decline.
Somewhat lost in the discussion of HP splitting into two is whether breaking into smaller companies is an unstoppable trend in the tech sector. HP plans to break itself apart, creating two approximately $60 billion, publicly owned, global companies. No one would consider these small. Companies at a certain size just can't execute at the speed of digital customers today. Heres our take on why.
Marc Adreessen made the point well at Dreamforce last week. He basically said that tech companies are different from others in that their product is really innovation. The products driving revenue today will be different in three years or less. By contrast, the Campbell Soup Company made soup 50 years ago, and while they may acquire other retail food companies, they will still be selling soup 50 years from now.
During the internet bubble of 2000, many of us predicted E-delivery of business content would reach a 40% to 50% adoption within a few years. Here we are now almost 15 years later and it still hovers around 20%. How can this still be true in 2014? Enterprises want print to become a secondary channel because it's less expensive. They form committees to ensure output from core systems is consistent, compliant, and adds to the customer experience. Stymied by low adoption rates — except in specific demographics, such as online brokerage and banking — many enterprises have lost enthusiasm for aggressively prioritizing digital adoption. And it's hard to blame them.
Unfortunately, we are the problem. We do not link paper usage with carbon contribution, don't trust our institutions, or are just are afraid of missing a payment unless the bill lands in the mailbox. Despite the plethora of smart devices, pervasive video, and social media that allow us to interact easily with customer service agents, pass information digitally, and complete business transactions on-the-run, we still hold on to paper delivery. I discuss the reasons for this here and what firms can do about it.
There are a few well-engineered products out of Stuttgart, Germany — Mercedes-Benz, an oft-visited tourist stop, is one. Another good Stuttgart product: SoftPro’s E-signature solution. Its strengths lie in its use of biometrics for image verification, particularly the SignAlyze product, a signature verification tool used extensively by German banks. SoftPro has a strong global presence outside of the US and solid banking accounts, all delivered with the kind of engineering foundation you would expect. The acquisition will help Kofax a lot, as it is virtually unknown in the US, with marketing and strategy behind the market leaders, and it has been slow to enter the trending SaaS market. In addition, SoftPro’s shortfalls in selected areas compared to the broader field, such as workflow and analytics, can be quickly plugged with the Kofax Total Agility BPM platform.
All in all, the SoftPro acquisition enhances Kofax’s competitive position in the smart process application category. E-signature also adds to Kofax’s portfolio for capture, process automation, analytics, and mobility to address key requirements for the rapidly growing need to automate and digitize document-centric applications. Kofax talks a lot about the first mile, but now can have deeper conversations about that last mile — where something needs to be signed.