First broken by Word of Pie at AIIM that she was leaving EMC, multiple sites are reporting that Whitney is now with Box.net including Silicon Valley Business Journal and PR-USA.Net. This post will discuss the changes at Documentum/IIG and discuss Box.Net as well as cloud content management offerings in general.
Changes at IIG
Whitney’s departure leaves a gap of continuity at Documentum/IIG. Whitney had been with Documentum for 15 years. We will all miss Whitney’s vision and energy and wish her the best in everything she, and other Documentum alumni, do. Our understanding is that Jeetu Patel will be taking on Whitney’s role at Documentum/IIG. It is hard to say how the continuity at Documentum/IIG will be affected by another long-term executive leaving. While, as a former Documentum parter, we can’t speak to the day to day functions of Whitney’s old job and Jeetu’s new job, We did enjoy Whitney’s involvement with EMC World/Momentum. Some fun/unique EMC World/Momentum challenges for Jeetu would include:
- Can Jeetu manage a live auto insurance claim demo that Whitney has given during a past Momentum keynote or two? We have to give Whitney her props for doing it live despite a technical glitch or two in the past. While I am not sure a customer ever embraced all of the different components, demo was innovative and thought provoking and was always better received than death by powerpoint or buzzwords.
- Can Jeetu take on the fun factor Whitney added to events? I have some good memories of Whitney at two in the morning drinking Hurricanes at Pat O’Briens in New Orleans during one Momentum.
This post wouldn’t be complete without a little discussion in regards to Box.Net and the other cloud based “freemium” services. One of the best articles was from Forbes back in February (article link). A relevant quote: “Box.net is a file storage and collaboration company…”. Box.net’s business model is based on giving away initial storage but adding subscription costs if you want to do more (hence the free+premium = freemium). A couple of quick thoughts:
- Collaboration and File Storage is only a small portion of Content Management. As we have mentioned in previous posts about SharePoint, collaboration is easy, structured content management is hard.
- While we would agree the cloud is great, are we sure about a “shared cloud?”. The Box.net model allows anyone to share/comment on a document with anyone. Most of the content management we do for clients has some pretty strict rules about who can see what. (Pharma, Insurance, Manufacturing….). We are sure one of Whitney’s first goals will be to provide the “Private Cloud” that we all heard over and over again at EMC World 2010.
- What about Google type collaboration? It isn’t just sharing a file, we like the Google Docs features of working on the document together.
- Out of the Box is great but what about when customers say the system “has to do this?” The Forbes article mentions that the 26 year old Box.Net founder mocks the service opportunity for consultants and programmers on SharePoint as “good for Microsoft, bad for customers”. TSG has mentioned in previous posts that there is good customization and bad customization but smart customers know that some customization, particularly for structured content management, is always necessary. Often the business process requires changes and customers need the ability to make those changes. Good software allows them to make those changes easily with a minimum of code but does allow for code. While we (TSG) have a vested interest in helping with consulting, experienced ECM folks might remember OpenText and their “consultantless solution” from 10 years ago. Documentum dominated OpenText by being able to establish a network of partners and vertical solutions while retaining customers based on a flexible and CUSTOMIZABLE infrastructure.
TSG did try our own version of cloud hosted content management back in 2000 as part of the Application Service Provider (ASP) play with Documentum and our ConnectSite.com offering. While we think we were ahead of our time, our lessons learned included:
- Cost of Customer – we really didn’t have a viral or freemium procurement path. Trying to get customers was expensive and difficult.
- Cost of Infrastructure – our solution was based on Documentum. We would have loved more OpenSource and cheap hardware for the cost components.
- Corporate Customers – we really didn’t get that corporate IT didn’t trust their documents on the Web. While that has evolved, in 2000 it was a non-starter to say that clients would get rid of their infrastructure and give their documents over to us.
Please post your thoughts and comments below on any and all of this post.