The Next Frontier: The DM / ECM Industry Roundtable

The office technology industry doesn’t look like it did 10 years ago. It used to be the letters to know were MFP and CPC. Then along came SaaS and MPS, and the industry shifted into a new dynamic, where the goal was no longer to sell boxes or pages, but to become a true business partner. Now there are two new terms to learn: Document Management (DM) and Enterprise Content Management (ECM). DM/ECM could be the next level in providing added value and guidance to your customers. It may not be for everyone, but it’s definitely something to start thinking about. We’d like to thank the following participants in this month’s roundtable discussion for sharing their opinions and insights about their industry.

David Bailey, Vice President, Protected Trust
Bruce Malyon, President, MaxxVault
BJ Santiago, President/CEO, Intellinetics
Thomas Schneck, President, Docuware
Amanda Sundara, Chief Operating Officer, Office Gemini
Chris Wacker, Executive Vice President, Laserfiche

1. What trends are impacting your industry the most?

Schneck: We are seeing the following trends impacting our industry: (1) the consumerization of IT where users get more and more familiar with ECM functionality with applications such as Dropbox or Google Docs, (2) the need and desire to have any kind of document available through a mobile device, (3) government initiatives around the world to digitize documents such as eInvoicing or electronic patient files, and cloud-based computing as the delivery format of the future for IT applications.

Thomas Schneck Docuware

Thomas Schneck

Malyon: Mobile and Cloud technologies are having the biggest impacts on our industry today. It is no longer good enough to have a solid Windows application with some limited web browser capabilities. Clients want scalable platforms that are designed to be simple to use on their mobile devices. Clients are looking for both hosted Cloud and Private Cloud options. Mobile and the Cloud are forcing software companies to have agile and flexible development platforms.

Sundara: The cloud application and the secure, centralized data-center boom has had a huge impact on our industry. This new acceptance and push by smart phone devices and larger corporations to back-up everything to the cloud has taken the fear out of the “my stuff is on the internet” thought and turned into the direction we are all moving, not by choice, but by social and professional trend. Instead of us trying to creatively convince businesses that it is safe and ok to go paperless and store their electronic files in a centralized location, they are coming to us and saying “I want this. I need this. I have to have it! Help me get my files in the cloud.”

Santiago: We see the following top trends in the industry: 1) increased Cloud based adoption, 2) exponential increase in unstructured data, and 3) transition to both horizontal and vertical industry solutions that are more focused on Business Process Management (BPM) and Business Process Optimization (BPO). Ultimately the new trend is that the end-users are really focused on the economic and operational impact by using an ECM solution/platform and not around features and functions of the technology.

Wacker: The trend most impacting the industry is the desire to have relevant information instantly available from anywhere at any time.

Bailey: I believe that education is still key to the DM/ECM industry. There is no formal university MIS style training for managing unstructured documents, so even IT managers scratch their heads over what they should do to manage this type of document. Competition is driving prices down on document management solutions, leaving very little profit to pay for the time it takes to properly consult and educate the customer.

David Bailey Protected Trust

David Bailey
Protected Trust

Solutions are becoming more complicated with the demands to manage eForms, and eDiscovery and to fully automate document indexing and workflow. Today’s complex solutions are contrary to the customer’s belief that these products should be inexpensive and plug-and-play as if they were commodity products, such as word processing or spreadsheet software. Customers will need to warm up to the idea of paying separate fees for expert consultation, education and implementation.

2. Where do you see the greatest potential for growth?

Santiago: Definitely cloud-based ECM delivery, but more specifically for the small-to-medium (SMB) business segment, an integrated pre-packaged set of industry solutions focused on the SMB market and increased use through mobile devices and remote access to information real-time.
Bailey: DM/ECM solutions should be mobile ready. As tablets begin to replace the need for laptops and desktops, the demands for browser access to their decision-making information will drive a more widespread use.

Malyon: I think the largest area for growth is what I like to call Social Collaboration. With Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter part of everyone’s life, business information has to flow as easily through the organization as it does in the social media world. People no longer just want to access the information — they want to blog about it or instant message someone a question on the document they are looking at. Companies that are designing Mobile and Cloud interfaces that leverage some of the best features present in other Social Media Platforms will grow the fastest over the next 12-18 months.

Chris Wacker Laserfiche

Chris Wacker

Schneck: We see the greatest potential for growth by making ECM solutions much easier to use and to deploy. We need to capture the imagination of potential users as to what ECM can do for them with language which is understood by the mainstream market.

Wacker: The challenge to make business-generated information widely available has been overcome. We see the culture or institutional knowledge of an organization as representing its greatest asset –especially in the high-tech world where things change so rapidly. The more widely it can be disseminated among employees, partners and customers, the greater the return. This we see as the greatest area for growth, a sort-of FAQ system on steroids.

Sundara: For vertical markets, I see the Government and Education sectors taking off, not only in the United States but globally, even in smaller, less talked-about countries and countries that would normally be considered to be behind the times.

3. What do you think the industry will look like in 3 to 5 years?

Sundara: We already have some dominant market leaders within the Document Management industry, but I expect to see a small handful rise up and become more of a monopoly type within the next 5 years, like what you see with Microsoft vs. Apple. Very soon, document management will no longer be a want or a desire or something that would help out, it will become a strong necessity that companies cannot do without.

Bruce Malyon MaxxVault

Bruce Malyon

Schneck: In 3-5 years the market will consolidate globally around 2-3 dominant vendors in the SMB space as well as in the Enterprise space
Bailey: I predict we’ll see further movement away from paper based capture to the acquisition and management of eforms, email and other digital based documents.

Malyon: I can tell you honestly, if you asked me that question 5 years ago I would not have predicted the growth in the mobile space and how much it has impacted our industry. I think if you don’t have a strong mobile and cloud platform strategy now, in the next 3-5 years you will probably not be a software vendor in the ECM space. Today, we are starting to see more and more companies transition off their first Document Management platform they purchased 5-10 years ago. One of the key factors for doing this is the Mobile and Tablet revolution. I think 90% of information collaboration will all be done via your smart phone or tablet.

Santiago: Mobility-enabled ECM will be an integrated part of all leading ERP applications and embedded as an integrated component of all managed services providers.

Wacker: Both leaders and laggards will have advanced. Leaders will have all information objects compressed and instantly available from any device, while the laggards will finally have all of their paper records scanned to images, retrievable from their smartphones.

4. What’s your most compelling value proposition to the channel partners, and what are some challenges you face working with channel partners?

Malyon: I think MaxxVault as a Platform offers our partners one of the most scalable, flexible and easy to use ECM packages in the market today. We are always planning ahead on the next set of features and that will help our partners win more business. I think one of the biggest challenges is with some of the small to medium size dealers who don’t have enough technical resources in-house to become completely self-sufficient on installing and supporting a true Enterprise Content Management solution. This issue has been in our marketplace for the last 15 years and at MaxxVault LLC we have recognized that and have built our partner programs around that issue. We understand that not every partner is going to be able to become a DM or ECM expert when it comes to installs. For our Silver and Gold partners MaxxVault undertakes all of the installation and ongoing support services. We make it easy for new partners to be successful selling MaxxVault because they are focusing on selling and not having to worry about the services. Channel partners that do have the technical expertise and want to do their own installs will join our Platinum partner program.

Sundara: Office Gemini is an International company with a large reach, but a more personal small business mentality on the customer service end. When partners call for pre-sales or post-sales assistance and technical support, they are not routed through a phone system maze or routed to an offshore operator. They get a live person to speak to who is in the United States and speaks their local language. Our sales and technical staff understand that their purpose is to assist our channel partners in marketing and selling our products and building a strong brand for Office Gemini within their local markets. We offer large margins on our products and offer free marketing assistance as well as funds for advertising and events. Well trained and well supported partners are productive partners.

Amanda Sundara Office Gemini

Amanda Sundara
Office Gemini

Unfortunately a lot of channel partners have had negative experiences or shortcomings in the past that affect their desire and drive to work with software manufacturers. We have found ourselves having to earn the trust of partners back, even though we are not the ones who lost their trust to begin with. Office Gemini is committed to the channel and we are supportive of the channel. As our channel grows, we grow, and we fully understand that. The key is to treat our channel partners as if they are an internal sales representative or support technician working for Office Gemini. The channel is our sales force and our support team; therefore, we need to train them and support them and treat them the same way we would treat our Employee of the Month.

Schneck: Besides a very function-rich product, DocuWare has developed a proven go-to-market strategy for the office automation channel. This strategy includes training, sales and marketing tools, and an unparalleled sales team which provides hands-on support for our reseller partners from lead generation to implementation. The greatest challenge is that a channel partner does not see the potential of the ECM market and therefore does not assign enough personnel or marketing resources.

Wacker: Laserfiche VARs build valuable businesses selling Laserfiche. It is a leading-edge product that organizations like to buy, use and expand. It provides revenue opportunities from product margin, installation, configuration, LSAP, additional hardware sales, integration with other applications, training, customization, etc. One challenge is in assisting channel partners in accomplishing their initial sales. After they “get it” and taste success, they are off to the races.

Bailey: We pride ourselves in our direct support, flexibility and expert knowledge of most any industry. However, the document management industry, from a product billing standpoint, is becoming annuity based. Customers are requiring their solution to be hosted in a safe harbor cloud environment and they are conditioned, by other business solutions, to paying a subscription rate. This is a difficult pill for the channel to swallow since they are historically accustomed to receiving full payment for the product up-front in which total income comes sooner and commissions are greater over a short period.

Santiago: We provide 1) Increased strategic value to their customer base, 2) Increased competitive advantage in managed services models, and 3) Increased revenue/profit for longer cycle times / customer. The challenge for channel partners is changing from device- and transaction-centric cultures to strategic solutions / services providers.

5. What are the top 3 ways your software provides value to your customers?

Bailey: Archive Studio provides value to an organization with its ability to organize unstructured documents. Unstructured documents have legal retention requirements that are automatically managed. Unstructured documents have enormous amounts of valuable information to assist an organization to achieve its best decision for current events. For example, unstructured documents such as email are the primary type of document most accessed in an eDiscovery event for a litigation case.

Wacker: 1) Easy to use: Based on Microsoft technology, Laserfiche is familiar, robust, and full-featured. 2) Easy to buy: Laserfiche is a PC application and priced accordingly. All functional modules come with each user license. 3) Easy to install: Laserfiche can be deployed in a half-day and it is open-architectured and uses non-proprietary formats, so it can be easily integrated with SharePoint and the majority of available applications.

Malyon: The top three ways MaxxVault provides value are in the following areas: Increased efficiencies in document processing, flexible enterprise information capture and secure line of business integration. All document management products can simply store your documents. It takes a long time to get your return on investment just based on storing and retrieval. At MaxxVault we understand that so we focus on improving a company’s day to day processes and try to make it easier to store information and access it from the business applications users use every day.

Sundara: 1) Efficient and secure access to files anytime from anywhere, 2) Money savings on file storage, paper costs, ink/toner costs, and value in savings on time lost from looking for and retrieving files, and 3) Never lose your files. With a paper copy, there is only one; with electronic files you can have back-ups and redundancies scattered worldwide if you want.

Schneck: The main benefit of our software is that it allows users to focus on their core tasks and they are not burdened by paperwork. When applied across a whole company, this leads ultimately to higher revenues and higher profitability.

Santiago: For all document-centric business processes, we can reduce costs, increase services, and strengthen competitive position and business performance.

6. Lastly, how would you sell DM/ECM to someone who’s never heard of this before?

Wacker: Good question. Someone who has not heard of Document Management or Enterprise Content Management is probably still using file cabinets to manage his documents. To him I would explain that he can get rid of all of his paper-filled file cabinets and have instant, simultaneous access to all of his documents from anywhere at any time. Beside these benefits, he would never again experience a lost or misplaced document. His document images can be integrated with his electronic documents such as MS Word, Excel, or third-party business applications into one system to truly streamline his operation.

Sundara: A DM/ECM solution is like having the best of both worlds. You take your paper files and convert them by scanning them into electronic image form (TIFF/PDF/JPG) and then you can manage them in an electronic file cabinet that utilizes the ever growing technological advancements in today’s world. You get what you were able to do with a piece of paper: writing on documents, sticky notes, rubber stamps, routing documents from one person to another for approvals, secure access like a lock and key, but all done electronically. In addition, you gain things you could not do with a piece of paper: lock files away from only certain people without having to distribute physical keys or manage a file room, share documents worldwide with instant access at the click of a button, maintain a comprehensive audit log of how and when files are accessed and by whom, duplicate and back-up files electronically for safekeeping in case of a fire or natural disaster, easily find hundreds of files at one time that have similarities or common relationships, multiple people can access the same file at one time, and most importantly, no pieces of paper floating around for unintended eyes to see or to be accidentally misplaced.

Bailey: An organization can consolidate all business pertinent information into a single browser-based solution commonly referred to as a document management system. Documents may be accessed via intranet, extranet, or the Internet. This type of solution can exist on-premise or through a cloud based subscription model. Electronic files, email or digitally scanned paper files may be easily located by searching document-specific descriptions or a combination of key words contained in documents. Decisions are made sooner when document information is readily available. In addition, you have “information assurance” that everything is discovered about a subject matter.

Santiago: We ensure the end-user understands the true definition of ECM and its business value for improving efficiencies. ECM stands for Enterprise Content Management, but the true definition of enterprise content management is two things: 1) A “Strategy” to manage your unstructured data and 2) A “tool-set” to manage the life-cycle of unstructured data. Unstructured data includes things like hard-copy scanned documents, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, JPEGs/Images/Pictures, Faxes, Audio/Video Files, and emails and attachments.

In the end we clearly ensure that the end-users know that their business critical documents or records will be “process-ready” for real use-case processes in the work-force (i.e. HR, AP, Legal, Education K-12, and etc.), and Return-on-Investment (ROI) is targeted on driving their business performance and how they are measured.

Malyon: The best ECM application is the one you don’t even know you’re using. That statement is part of our design philosophy at MaxxVault. We are always trying to find easier ways for our clients to access and store information they need without having to log into a desktop or browser client. In its simplest form ECM or Document Management is having access to the information you need to make your business decision readily available 24×7 at your fingertips. On the go or at your desk you need access to that information repository vault.

Schneck: Basically, imagine a world where all documents are stored in one document pool – regardless of their origin – and can be accessed from any device!

About the Author
Christina Kim is an editor for ENX Magazine and ENX The Week in Imaging.