TSG recently posted an article with Document Strategy on the Vision for Content Services Platform /ECM 2.0 for 2020 and beyond. As part of our year-end wrap-up for 2019 and prepping for 2020, we conducted a deeper dive interview with Dave Giordano, our founder, on his thoughts on the market and his predictions for 2020. This post will provide the transcript of the interview.
Question – In the article for Document Strategy, you made some predictions about technologies that would disrupt the current marketplace as well as percentage thoughts about how likely the disruption would affect the industry. Why did you add the percentages?
Dave Giordano – In adding the percentages, I wanted readers to understand that, while I was making a prediction, it was an educated guess. I was trying for more of a sports analogy where “Will the Lakers win the NBA championship” is given a percent rather than statement that too often can be taken out of context as fact rather than speculation. With technology, too often statements are made that mislead readers or struggle with over hype.
For the technologies that are already disrupting components of the Content Services Platform (CSP) space (Object Stores and Digitally Born Content), I was very comfortable saying that there is a 100% chance of disruption. For things like Cloud, my experience from some clients that will never run in the cloud made my chance of disruption slip to 80%. For SaaS, while TSG has experience with Veeva and other SaaS solutions, we have learned that many of our clients rarely want to give all content control to outside vendors so I put that disruption chance at low with 20%.
Question – Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are getting lots of promotion as the biggest technology disruptor across all of information technology yet you only gave it a 50% chance of disrupting the CSP space. Why the low percentage and where do you differ from the industry on this technology opportunity?
Dave Giordano – I think the issue with the industry when it comes to Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence is too often it takes a high-level “I can replace people with machines”. To understand the potential disruption requires a detailed understand of what people do with CSP and where the disruption might take place. At TSG, we do see machine learning helping to augment people when it comes to indexing of certain content and have posted our thoughts on Capture 2.0. After the capture of content, it does get tough to justify the replacement of people for all of the analysis and processing of documents. We do think machine learning and artificial intelligence can augment the process for efficiencies but see it difficult at this time to predict replacement of the people component of CSP for some time to come.
We have also seen clients be much more tactical when it comes to CSP implementations. The difficult part of machine learning is that, after spending the money to investigate, learn and train the model, it can be determined that the model didn’t meet the business requirements causing the entire effort to be thrown out. Our clients want predicable spend with business benefits and struggle with strategic efforts that might not prove fruitful.
Question – TSG has been blogging, some would say too much, on NoSQL as a replacement for the SQL back-end behind content services platforms. Why are you so passionate about this being a disruptor (70%) when the industry has been successful with SQL?
Dave Giordano – Over four years ago, we began looking at what technologies would disrupt CSP and posed the question, “If you had to build from scratch, what technologies would you use?”. When ECM started in the 1990’s, the technologies of the day were relational databases for storage of meta-data and for search. As processing, memory and storage performance and costs have improved, NoSQL alternatives have emerged from big-data initiatives that can offer simpler, better and more cost efficient alternatives. TSG has been very successful this last year with multiple clients moving from legacy ECM platforms, including Documentum and FileNet, to NoSQL. We have multiple clients in the pipeline that will be moving in 2020. We are predicting all of our NoSQL solutions for HBase/Hadoop, Azure, Google and AWS/DynamoDB will gain additional traction in 2020.
Question – You mentioned legacy vendors, what are your thoughts about the legacy CSP vendor’s ability to disrupt in 2020 and beyond?
Dave Giordano – I am a big fan of the Innovators Dilemma and especially in regards to technology vendors. In regards to CSP, the innovators dilemma might highlight that it is difficult to see profitable, existing vendors disrupting their own install base with innovative solutions that don’t cost-justify the disruption of their clients without additional revenue. Some of the disruptions we forecasted (object store, digital content and cloud) should be somewhat simple to add into their existing architecture for their existing clients. Other more advanced disruptions (NoSQL, Machine Learning and Low Code) will be significantly harder to add without disrupting themselves.
I think in regards to technology disruption, I think there is also a large people component. In this low-unemployment market, where are legacy vendors going to find smart, energetic resources with new ideas that want to work for old brands that are tied to old technologies? It is possible that the people equation part of the equation is probably more important than the technology itself. Vendors that embrace the culture of change have the best chance to hire and retain new talent.
Question – One prediction was around Low code replacing Development Environments. Are you seeing a shift in client’s desires when it comes to their resources, skills or applications that is pushing for Low Code?
Dave Giordano – I think similar to the Legacy Vendors, some of our clients have a difficult time attracting and providing a career path to retain new IT talent. Often times we are replacing legacy CSP/ECM implementations that have custom components that have proven difficult to support or update due to the resources that developed the code having moved on to new companies or opportunities within the client. Business users have always wanted low or even no code solutions versus development environments to allow for configuration changes versus having to code/test/deploy.
All of our software development at TSG has focused on translating client needs into product direction to make changes to trunk to share with our community of clients. We are seeing that accelerate in 2019 and would predict more in 2020. See an example of no code in this demo of how to configure a case management interface in under 20 minutes.
Question – One of the big investments that TSG made in 2019 that got lots of attention in the industry was your 11 billion document benchmark with AWS and DynamoDB. What message did you want to send in regards to the benchmark and why 11,000 concurrent users and 11 Billion documents?
Dave Giordano – As a software and consulting firm, we have always had the philosophy that our clients get to “vote with their dollars” when it comes to spending on innovation and technology. Given the dynamic change associated with NoSQL and DynamoDB, we thought it best to take our own advice and create our own incredibly large client to prove out the power and scale of AWS, NoSQL and DynamoDB. We are still benefiting from our experience and best practices and are leveraging those for our clients.
In regards to why 11 Billion Documents. The answer is really two-fold. We are routinely seeing large customers with 1 billion to 6 billion documents and wanted to make sure we were exceeding their requirements. We also had seen multiple legacy vendors that had conducted 1 billion document benchmark that our coaches at Doculabs and Deep Analysis had pushed us to do a more realistic benchmark with real data and real client scenarios.
Lastly, while we initially started with a 10 billion benchmark, we decided to add a wink/nod to “Spinal Tap” and settled on 11 Billion “because it’s one more”. While I had to explain it to the Gen Zer’s here at TSG complete with YouTube Clip below, many of our “children of the 80s” clients got it right away and appreciated the reference.
Read Dave’s full article on Document Strategy: