So I’m taking a break at the AIIM conference, when someone asks to joins me. Within a few moments I’m getting their pitch, “We’re an enterprise content management (ECM) company focused on the Global 500.” I look at his badge to see a vendor name I don’t recognize. In twenty years I learned so many vendor names that I’ve turned those lists into a malaprop, (mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one, often with unintentionally amusing effect) twice. Then he slips, and the word “mainframe” comes out. This market is so convoluted. Ten years ago I got a similar pitch and the 50 year old enterprise document management (EDM) company sold physical file folders and filing cabinets.
Why is everyone trying to sell “Enterprise Content Management” to the “Global 500”? It’s like when you put out several bowls of dog food for your dogs and then they all fight over the same bowl. It’s not like there aren’t more bowls. There’s a word that defines everyone’s focus on the same largest 500 companies around the world, incestuous. This “rip and replace” mentality does nothing but hurt the EDM/ECM market.
Document Management in the Midmarket
Midmarket companies have the same desire to go paperless in their process. They are ready to improve their process in order to cut costs, speed time to market, andr provide better services to their customers. I honestly think it is a stronger need because they can see paperless as a way to compete with their larger competitors. A company with digital processes can grow faster. Yet this midmarket is relatively unsupported by EDM/ECM vendors. Some of them are being served by some small EDM vendors.
It is not a lot of work to find prospects in the midmarket. You probably drive past a dozen of them each time you take a ride in your car. There’s not a shortage of lists either. To start take a look at Forbe’s America’s Largest Private Companies, or Inc. 5000 2016: Fastest Growing Private Companies. There are others too but I’m not going to give away all of my secrets.
While these companies may not understand words like “ECM” they do understand that they want to move off of paper to some electronic means. To them specific document types are the challenges they are trying to solve. They are trying to solve specific solutions in the back office.
Document Management in the SMB Space
Sometimes we go too far. Any vendor that talks about ECM better be fully prepared when considering the SMB (Small to Medium Business) space. A few are making the jump and I think that it’s a complete waste of resources. The way you work with SMB customers is very different from how you work with the Global 500. Those differences are not addressed by decreasing the available features. For these clients the sales cycle is completely different. They buy solutions in a specific way and need a different level of support.
We need to stop focusing on the same 2,000 customers. EDM/ECM market will never grow if we don’t take a look around for another bowl. It was very telling what the AIIM World Paper Free Day award winner said after attending the AIIM Conference, “Until yesterday I had never heard the term ECM.”