Content Management, “Over the Next Hill”

Recently I had saw a strange slide put up on the wall.  It simply said “Over the Hill”.  It’s intent was not to look out a year or two into the future but to look ten years out.  I thought hey what a great idea.  Then I had a flash back to one of those “California Off-Sites” ten years ago, when someone asked me who would be our competitors in 2010.  (My response?  Oracle, Microsoft, and Google)  So I thought maybe I should look forward another ten years.

As I started to write this I realized the fact that a hill could be in front of you or behind you.  And unless you make sure you are headed in a consistent direction, you could end up going in circles.  So I thought I’d give my view ten years out, but first I’m going to look ten years back.  Feel free to ride along.  And for those not familiar to it, enjoy the “Wayback Machine” (*the broken image links are to be expected)

Enterprise Content Management, 2000
As 2000 rolled around ECM was all about two worlds, documents and web content.  Rarely were the two available from one vendor.  There was also those terms around “knowledge management”, but we’re not supposed to talk about that, and “application service providers”.

Document management was all about library services and workflow, something it had been since its evolution from imaging solutions in the 1980’s.  In most cases workflow was critical differentiator, where ease of use was just entering the vocabulary.  Advanced search through technologies like Autonomy and E.Piphany were the rage.  The evolving market of content management was lead by Documentum, FileNet, and Open Text.  And just for sake of continuity, SharePoint was just coming out of stealth mode as project Tahoe.

Web content was the star.  It was new and everyone thought, different.  The vendors, companies that only a year before couldn’t get attention inside the enterprise, were now talk of the board table and more importantly the golf course.  This space was dominated by small giants, Broadvision, Interwoven and Vignette.

But one can’t look at content management without looking at content.  Web content was king.  With that, content became dynamic, no longer a point of time view but constantly evolving.  There was also another quite evolution inside the organization; PowerPoint was taking hold.  Internal memo and documents were becoming bullet points.

Enterprise Content Management, 2020
So what do I see in 2020.  I’ll break it up into four concepts.

I will set a stake in the ground now.  I believed that when EMC acquired Documentum we would see a content management appliance.  It hasn’t happened but it will.  Clouds will fade but the concept will remain, as it has since the old shared mainframe days.  Clouds claim to be about ease of use but what’s easy about all their pieces.  Clouds use as a poster child.  But do you know what operating system it runs on, the backend database, the underlying architecture?  No and more importantly the buyer does not care.  The concept of clouds is to take the complexity out of things.  And that’s where the library services appliance will emerge from.  A box that acts like content addressable storage but includes file locking, audit trails, version control, relationship management, and records management.  Library services will finally become a commodity. 

Laptops are the minority, long live tablets.  No, I’m not hopping on the Apple bandwagon.  But simply communicating a revelation we all see.  When one looks at an application’s UI the biggest part of the UI missed is the device itself.  The form factor of a laptop was designed for a multiuse device because technology was to expensive not to do so.  The Apple Kindle, Apple iPad, and Sony Reader all focus on the reader.  Turn that into the corporate world and that’s the content consumer.  The costs of these devices will come down but I believe the uptick in consumption will be when either the academic or corporate world adopt them.

Knowledge management will return, though it may not be called that.  With the continued rise in litigations and the massive volumes of content being created.  Knowledge Warehouses will emerge.  These storage areas will grow from archives that will relate content with their sources.  Companies will realize that they need to understand not only by whom content was created but based on what sources.  Rumor has it that no one knows how the Pontiac Azetk was ever approved as a vehicle.  Wouldn’t it be nice to know who created it and which focus group thought it was an impressive vehicle?

Probably my craziest, wild, out-of-the-blue prediction is that enterprise communication will become “more” static.  Remember how in the early days of eCommerce, you’d see an article every few months of how some company had to sell some product for a low price because of a web misprint?  I imagine something like that will begin to bite organizations in the Web 2.0 arena.  Some corporate tweet will go out of control and fallout will occur.  Granted we may see some third-party products that attempt to manage publications to FaceBook or Twitter, but ultimately organizations will realize that they can and have to control the message before it goes out on which a channel.

Enterprise Content Management, 2010
Two months ago we had a lot of predictions for the coming year but in this year of 2010 I think a ten year view is relevant too.  The real eye-opener was when, asked by a friend coming back into ECM for a refresher, I realized that in this space things move slowly.  It takes a few years to get game plans in motion.  And in technology I take my lessons from Wayne Gretzky’s father, “skate to where the puck is going; not where it’s been.”

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