The world of collaboration is changing and EMC is making dramatic moves to address the portfolio’s relevance in the market. All of the legacy ECM vendors are struggling to maintain or redefine themselves in this space. There is no debating the fact that SharePoint was a tremendously disruptive product in the collaboration market and redefinition is essential to survival.
SharePoint however should no longer be thought of as the contender or disruptor. It has become the standard. The victory though may be short-lived. SharePoint is now the technology that must be disrupted to move the market forward and EMC with partners Cisco and Box is challenging the status quo.
Last week we saw two key announcements around collaboration and the EMC IIG suite. The first is proposed integration of EMC Documentum to Cisco-Quad that will eventually expand the capabilities of that platform with enterprise content management features. Content management has a clear and compelling role to play in Cisco’s vision of enterprise social interactions. The second announcement is for the development of an integration delivering Documentum content though the Box cloud solution.
While the Cisco deal is fairly straight forward I admit I am struggling to get a handle on the possibilities of Box and Documentum coexistence. It is difficult to reconcile my training and background in controlled document management to the “free range” content world served by Box today. I suspect I am not alone.
In thinking through scenarios I keep landing on a key difference in the approach of the two product lines that needs to be well understood before embarking on any meaningful integration.
When I log into Box the focus of the interface is “All Files.” The content layout and organizational root is the user’s personal view. Documentum has the concept of a home cabinet and a construct representing My Files but this is completely optional. Documentum’s core organizational paradigm is completely independent of any given user.
This difference in perspective leads me to characterize Box as something I am starting to call Employee Managed Content as opposed to Enterprise Content Management as delivered by Documentum. This is more than a semantic preference. It permeates the user experience within Box.
Managing content from a central corporate structure, organizationally and technically is the mainstay of ECM. As products like Documentum have attempted to expand the core of managed content beyond regulated material they have faced resistance in the form of poor adoption and cost justification challenges.
The qualities of the larger body of essentially rule-less employee controlled content similarly press the desire for unfettered access and are thwarted by complexity and excessive implementation costs. The barriers have led many to conclude that there is no reason to manage much of it at all.
SharePoint was able to expand the sphere of managed content beyond more functional repositories because of the perception that users were more in control of the experience and rules than they actually are. The reality of complexity in implementation however quickly stall and sharing outside the enterprise with SharePoint in as free a manner as most desire remains out of reach.
The combination of a tightly controlled, process and records content managed by Documentum and loosely managed sharing expands the scope of coverage of the unstructured data ecosystem in the enterprise in a manner that is difficult if not impossible to achieve with a monolithic or even an integrated SharePoint approach.
The content replication bridge provided by the Box/Entropysoft Connect offering is a good beginning to let content traverse the feature gap of the two worlds some processes demand. It is clear however that a tighter coupling will have to be developed for the full potential to be realized.
In later posts I will share some of my recent experience with the Box API and simpler ways that Documentum xCP and Box can be leveraged today in a process oriented environment. With or without the benefit of a more productized integration.
Times are changing and we have to move faster. The market, customer business priorities and technical advancements require that we move faster to solve for the explosion of unmanaged content in the enterprise. This combination is just one of the ways that EMC is making the journey to the cloud possible and realize it sooner than we might have done on our own.
Disclaimer : As always, this post is my opinion and does not necessarily represent the opinions of my employer (EMC) or the partners mentioned.