So Dave, what are the main issues in the DM world for you and your readership right now?
That’s an easy one: GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). In terms of activity and PR, that’s easily the biggest theme for the vendor part of the Document Management community.
What is the reception of that message around GDPR?
I have been very struck by how negative the whole thing is, to be honest. It’s being framed consistently as a threat – ‘If you don’t do this, you could be fined 4% of turnover’, ‘Your CEO could go to jail’. The message is all about the data protection issue as a threat, and it reminds me quite sharply of the early days of the Sarbanes-Oxley financial regulation after the Credit Crunch, which was similarly all about the downside.
I think the industry won’t actually get any real traction, though, for the same reason – what people want is a more positive reason to engage with these kinds of regulations; I think they get a bit tired and turned off by being beaten over the head. As a result, I think it’s actually going to be the supplier who first figures out how to show how GDPR alignment can be good for your business, good for customers of that leadership business, which will make the big breakthrough here.
Interesting. What are the other topics that you’re seeing raising debate in the sector apart from GDPR?
Second has to be security. The WannaCry ransomware furore definitely sharpened the minds of a lot of users around the vulnerabilities they might have in their enterprise systems. It’s a shame, of course, that it takes a big hack like this to get focus on security, but at least that’s a positive effect of the crisis. A lot of people are also looking again at cloud as a result of this, as it’s brought home to many of the remaining cloud doubters that cloud offerings are more secure than they had thought simply because they had to be engineered that way to stand any chance of being taken seriously in the first place! As a result, I see big potential for DM/ECM suppliers who can get the word out about how secure and stable their way of working with organisational content can be versus some of the alternatives – and a real shift to cloud could happen too, we think.
What about things like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain, which we’ve heard a lot about today and in the press in general?
That’s more complicated. In terms of AI, I think we already have a lot of smart things happening in DM in terms of automation, but they tend to be under the hood, hidden, and it’s actually quite hard to expose that in meaningful ways to customers. I look back to things like Autonomy, for instance, which is years back now; a lot of that was effectively content AI, but we never really focused on that as a community. There’s also some debate as to how ‘intelligent’ some of that stuff is – there’s a difference, surely, between ‘cleverness’, having some slick software, and true AI? Not sure AI is going to be as big a factor in the DM market as it may be in some others, as a result. Blockchain seems similar; important, yes, useful, yes, but I suspect will become part of the background, a component in what we do, maybe like peer-to-peer has become?
Great perspective. Finally, we were told by Gartner today that we have to stop calling what we do ‘Document Management’ and rebrand as ‘Content Services’. What is your feeling about this? Time to change the magazine title?
That’s amusing, because we have had regular debates over the years, whenever similar breakpoints in the sector occur and when we are told the old names don’t work anymore… and we’ve always decided to keep the name the same! I do agree that users, businesses, probably don’t see the world as about DM or Records Management or Content, even, but as business problems that need solving. Which is as it should be, and we do need to get better at communicating in terms users actually understand and relate to. I’d even ask how useful it would be to throw yet another term at them, Content Services, and ask them to get their heads round that.
Ultimately, we are really still about the problem of information management, working with organisational information. So long as we keep asking companies what their problems are about that and working to offer ways to help them, we have a secure future as an industry, no matter what we call ourselves. And no, we’re not changing our name!
Thanks for your time today, Dave, and we look forward to continuing the debate with you soon.
Document Manager magazine Editor Dave Tyler is an acknowledged expert observer of the document and content management scene