It’s always an honour to be asked to speak at a community event, but I was particularly pleased to be asked to deliver the keynote at Docville in May.
That’s because I recognise it’s one of the most prestigious of the sector’s long-running events, with a strong European set of connections.
I was a bit worried, however, as I stepped up to the podium in Brussels.
Not because I wasn’t sure about my material, or was concerned that the slideshow technology would let me down, as seems to happen so frequently these days!
It was because I knew I had some strong things to say, and I was a bit unsure of how they’d go down.
My major message was the urgent need to stop being complacent and for the business owners in the room to realise that if they don’t step up, they’re going to lose control of their destiny.
Am I claiming to know everything here? No, far from it. But I spend every day talking to industry leaders about the drivers for change, and then I try and open a dialogue with ECM vendors and ISVs on that basis.
And I am often disheartened by the gap in understanding.
Change is happening at an exponential rate in technology and how it is delivered to end users, and the ECM industry is not keeping pace with those changes and conversations in my opinion. That is in one way understandable because ECM has been around for a long time and it continues to grow, albeit slowly. In fact it’s one of the slowest burn growth markets of all time! People don’t see change as a critical, life threatening need – but maybe they should.
History is knocking on your door. Cloud, consumer IT, the digital transformation narrative, mobile, AI, Machine Learning, the Internet of Things – this is what the world is talking about, yet we are stuck in a different discourse. Documents. Records management. OCR.
They are all important areas but we’re not aligning with what the market wants to hear, and that could be fatal. Buyers are increasingly failing to hear our value proposition and if they do they are not finding it relevant and so are just bypassing us.
Maximise your chance of business success and happiness
In my presentation I offered some top-level thinking about how to address these issues. Central to this is to really grasp that we are moving from systems of record thinking (1987-2007) past today’s systems of engagement thinking to the imminent arrival of systems of understanding, or systems that generate insight from Big Data.
You have to make your message more relevant to this space. You have to re-frame your offer to make it current and exciting. You have to hire some bright data scientists and mobile app developers from Silicon Roundabout. You have to educate yourself about the market in order that your still-excellent software can secure its chance to play in this incredible sandbox we are being given.
And if you are serious about any kind of a business exit strategy and any kind of a way to maximise your years of hard work, then you simply have no choice.
That’s what I told the audience at Docville and I tell business leaders in ECM every day.
We’ll have to judge by the results to see who’s listening.
Martyn is Managing Partner at UNDRSTND Group, set up by the Information Management industry’s most experienced business leaders & strategists to help software & services companies in the digital content and customer experience management market realize their ultimate potential
Go here for more of Martyn’s thoughts on creating value in the ECM market.