KDiddy responded to my EMC World write-up with a list of questions that arose from attending my session, (it is never good when people leave your sessions with more questions that when they arrived…if I was thought provoking then it would be great but I think I’m just confusing!)
Rather than burying the response deep in the comments section I’ve posted the answers as a new entry.
WHO ARE THESE CUSTOMERS THAT YOU TALK TO?
Well, there’s Fred, Eleanor, Bob and Arthur – you’d love them, especially when we get them drunk. Seriously, we also try very hard to talk to a real cross section of sober customers – and not just existing EMC customers, (that is especially important for a project like this.) I assume you are not asking me to name names but in general we talk to:
- Non-EMC customers, especially ones who are very Microsoft-centric,
- EMC ECM customers who are typically approaching us with very specific requirements,
- We run customer focus groups where we validate ideas and dig deeper in to the needs,
- We also have a lot of indirect and anecdotal contact with customers through talking to the field and even reading Blogs etc.
My only admission of impropriety would be that the customers we talk to are typically from medium, large and vast companies. I don’t spend too much time with smaller companies.
WHAT IS THEIR MOTIVATION? IS IT SELF-PRESERVATION?
- Not sure exactly what you mean – are they trying to protect their ECM empires or trying to stay out of jail for non-compliance. Either way I’d say that there is an element of both of these but the positive spin is probably to say that many of our customers understand the value of ECM so they are protecting ECM in their organization for all of the right reasons. In fact, one of our biggest challenges is helping people to understand “why ECM”…not just to protect our business but to help them manage operations, risk and compliance.
MORE INTERESTINGLY IS HOW/WHY DID SHAREPOINT BECOME SO PERVASIVE IN THESE ORGANIZATIONS TO THE POINT THAT IT IS NOW AN ISSUE FOR THESE CUSTOMERS TO SOLVE?
- Great question… IMHO Microsoft did a great job of creating a solution in a space what had almost no friction. The layer in which SharePoint resides is so multifaceted – it can be viewed as an über-file system, an extremely rich development platform or a layer under Office that provides basic productivity tools. Previously there was no easy way of extending Microsoft Office in to an organization’s processes. Oh, and people believe that it comes for free…it doesn’t but even the illusion of a bargain is a great sales tool.
DOES THE SPREAD OF SHAREPOINT, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU BELIEVE THE 100M USER STORY OR NOT, CONFIRM THAT THE INCUMBENT ECM SOLUTIONS WAS NOT WHAT MAJORITY OF FOLKS IN THE ORGANIZATION WANTED?
- Let me play devil’s advocate…you make the assumption that SharePoint is being used for ECM, and that it is able to supply real *Enterprise* level content management capabilities. I’d argue that is does not really do that; it provides basic library services which is a long way from ECM. I have three thoughts, (really since birth…only three of them):
- SharePoint’ successful is not based on its ability to provide an ECM capabilities; that’s just a small part of why people use SharePoint. Its success is based on a much bigger picture.
- In many companies SharePoint is not viewed as being a competitive technology to ECM….really, it is not. It is seen as being a cooperative technology; people want to build solutions on the SharePoint platform, use it for collaboration, as a portal, etc.
- Yes, SharePoint provides some critical things that the legacy ECM solutions have failed to provide…ease of use from the Microsoft Office tools being the most obvious.
IF YOU DISCOUNT MSFT MARKETING MACHINE AND THE FACT THAT A VERSION OF SHAREPOINT IS AVAILABLE FOR FREE; DID SHAREPOINT DELIVER TO THE MASSES THE ECM SOLUTION THEY DESIRED?
- For some customers is absolutely does – no doubt about it. It is not “real ECM” by my definition but it certainly provides the basic library services that some companies need. If you don’t need a sledgehammer to crack a nut then don’t use one. Your nuts will get crushed and nobody wants that.
- The real question is…”if Millicent’s Software Co. had written SharePoint and it was $200 per seat would it be a success?” I think that answer is probably yes but it would have been crushed by the marketing machines from the major ECM vendors. The general concept that SharePoint delivers is very attractive, I just think that it is oversold in many cases.
BY THE WAY, I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH YOU THAT CREATING SHORTCUTS, WEBPARTS AND FRAMEWORKS ARE SIMPLY TECHNOLOGIES THAT HOPEFULLY WILL BE USED TO SOLVE THE UNDERLYING PROBLEM THAT CUSTOMERS FACE.