Busy Week in XML Content Management Market

Holiday weeks can be sleepy weeks in enterprise software news, but this week has seen one significant press release each day in the XML content management market, or component content management (CCM) market if you prefer.

  • On Monday, SDL announced the acquisition of XyEnteprise, and the creation of a new business unit based on XyEnterprise and Trisoft called SDL-XySoft.
  • On Tuesday, Really Strategies, the makers of the Marklogic-Server-based system RSuite, announced the acquisition of SaaS CCM provider DocZone.
  • Today, Quark and EMC announced an integration of Quark XML Author with Documentum.

First, the necessary disclosures and caveats. Of the six companies mentioned, we’ve worked with all of them, I believe, and I actually worked for XyEnterprise back in the 1980s and early 1990s. That said, each of these announcements is significant.

SDL, through both organic growth and acquistion, has grown into a substantial business that spans globalization technology, globalization services, CCM technology, and WCM technology. My colleagues Mary Laplante and Leonor Ciarlone know them much better as a company, but I believe it is safe to say that SDL is in a unique position spanning essentially four markets, but four markets that make a great deal of sense under a single umbrella. The product support content managed in a CCM technology is the best point of integration for globalization/translation tools. A CCM technology is also an excellent underpinning for a global company’s web presence or web precenses (the latter more likely, especially when one considers the need for localized web sites). And services are an essential piece of this puzzle. It’s the rare company that staffs heavily for localization, and even when they do, very few would staff full time to cover all of their language needs. Is SDL in a position to represent one-stop shopping for large companies with complex product content that needs to be localized into many languages? Again, my colleagues could answer that question more precisely, but it’s not a crazy question to ask.

Mary has more on SDL XySoft over in the globalization blog.

The acquisition also breathes new life into XyEnterprise, a company with highly functional, mature technology and excellent executive leadership. We take it as a very positive sign that XyEnterprise CEO Kevin Duffy will become the CEO of the newly combined business unit, reporting to Mark Lancaster, Chairman and CEO of SDL.

The Really Strategies acquistion of DocZone is on a smaller scale of course, but it is is significant in that these two companies represent two leading trends in the CCM marketplace–management of component content in native XML repositories (MarkLogic Server for RSuite and Documentum Content Store for one version of DocZone) and Software as a Service (SaaS). Count me among those who have been skeptical at times about SaaS for CCM, but DocZone, under Dan Dube’s leadership, has made it work. Really Strategies, in the mean time, has developed an impressive CCM offering on top of Mark Logic Server, and they have quietly built up a strong customer list.  We think the combined companies complement each other, and the new management team is excellent, with Barry Bealer as CEO, co-founder Lisa Bos as CTO, Ann Michael in charge of services, and Dan Dube as VP Sales and Marketing.

Which brings us to Quark and EMC. Both companies have been developing more CCM capabilities. EMC acquired X-Hive, and a lot of XML expertise along with it. They have since added more XML expertise on both the product management and engineering side. As they have integrated X-Hive into the Documentum platform, they have logically looked to build out more capabilities and applications for vertical markets. The integration with Quark XML Author makes perfect sense for them, giving their customers and prospects a ready mechanism for XML authoring in a familiar editorial tool.

For Quark’s part, the move is a logical and very positive next step. They had previously announced this kind of integration with IBM Content Manager, which has a strong presence in the manufacturing space. With EMC, Quark now has a strong partner in the pharma space. Documentum has long dominated pharma, and Quark XML Author, under Michael Boses and previous owner In.Vision, had built up a long list of pharma customers. Boses and his team know the pharma data structures inside and out, and it will be interesting to see the details of how Quark XML Author will integrate with Documentum and its storage mechanisms. (I am sure both EMC and Quark see the potential as more than just the pharma market–government is also a good target here–but the pharma angle will be fruitful I am sure.)

So, what news is on tap for tomorrow?

SDL Scores with SDL XySoft

SDL continues its ambitious build-out of technology solutions for end-to-end content globalization with its acquisition of XyEnterprise, announced on 29 June. From Gilbane’s perspective, it’s a win all the way around, especially for buyers who continue to seek solutions for the more difficult obstacles to multilingual, multichannel publishing.

The vendors win. The acquisition brings immediate scale to both XyEnterprise and SDL Trisoft. Both companies were having to work really hard to reach the next level, and both were at risk of very slow progress through organic growth. The deep expertise and market focus of each company are highly complementary–SDL Trisoft with DITA and high tech, XyEnterprise with S100D in aviation and aerospace and a proven track record in commercial publishing. SDL Trisoft gets solid North American support and professional services organizations, and XyEnterprise gains the ability to better serve customers in Europe.

Buyers and customers win. First, the consolidation of two of the leading suppliers of component content management gives buyers a new comfort level with vendor viability. Second, efficient, affordable multilingual, multichannel publishing remains a very expensive obstacle for many global 2000 companies. In Gilbane’s new research on Multilingual Product Content, we identify the multilingual multiplier–costs that are solely the result of producing formatted content in another language. SDL XySoft will be able to address the multiplier problem with tight integration of the XyEnterprise XPP publishing engine, which has been a true differentiatior for Xy throughout its history. Third, existing and new customers will benefit from the extensive combined experience that SDL XySoft has in complex, standards-based publishing and content management. 

The acquisition is also an opportunity to reinforce the core value propostions for XML and component content management. These technologies and practices sit at the nexus of a set of knotty problems: reusing content across applications, repurposing content for different outputs, and translating content for multiple global audiences. A single-vendor, integrated solution that addresses these problems is more evidence that the market is finally making progress towards overcoming the language after-thought syndrome, identified in Gilbane’s new study. Such solutions support the trend towards the:

". . . steady adoption of content globalization strategies, practices, and infrastructures that position language requirements as integral to end-to-end solutions rather than as ancillary post-processes." — Multilingual Product Content, Gilbane Group, 2009

This acquisition should be relatively easy for SDL to absorb, as there’s already an established business unit into which Xy’s capabilities fit (in contrast to SDL’s acquisitions of Trisoft and Tridion, which were completely new businesses for SDL). In addition, SDL XySoft has a proven leader in former XyEnterprise president and CEO Kevin Duffy. Duffy takes the role of XySoft CEO, reporting directly to SDL Chairman and CEO Mark Lancaster. Duffy managed to build a small niche software company into a respected player in its market, surviving through good and bad times. He now get his chance to see what’s possible with the resources of a global organization behind him.

See the SDL press release and the XyEnterprise press release for more information. Gilbane’s study on Multilingual Product Content: Transforming Traditional Practices Into Global Content Value Chains will be published on the Gilbane site in mid-July. The report is currently available through study sponsors Acrolinx, Jonckers, Lasselle-Ramsay, LinguaLinx, STAR, Systran, and Vasont.

 

Assessment of My Enterprise 2.0 Conference Predictions

The Enterprise 2.0 Conference was held last week, in Boston. Prior to the event, I made some predictions as to expected learnings and outcomes from the conference. Today, I will revisit those prognostications to determine their accuracy.

Here is the original list of things that I anticipated encountering at the E2.0 Conference this year. Each prediction is followed by an assessment of the statement’s validity and some explanatory comments:

A few more case studies from end user organizations, but not enough to indicate that we’ve reached a tipping point in the E2.0 market: TRUE The number of case studies presented this year seemed to be roughly the same as last year. That is to say very few. The best one that I heard was a presentation by Lockheed Martin employees, which was an update to their case study presented last year at E2.0 Conference. It was great to hear the progress they had made and the issues with which they have dealt in the last year. However, I was genuinely disappointed by the absence of fresh case studies. Indeed, the lack of new case studies was the number one conference content complaint heard during the event wrap-up session (indeed, throughout the show.)

An acknowledgement that there are still not enough data and case studies to allow us to identify best practices in social software usage:
TRUE This turned out to be a huge understatement. There are not even enough publicly available data points and stories to allow us to form a sense of where the Enterprise 2.0 market is in terms of adoption, much less of best practices or common success factors. At this rate, it will be another 12-18 months before we can begin to understand which companies have deployed social software and at what scale, as well as what works and what doesn’t when implementing an E2.0 project.

That entrenched organizational culture remains the single largest obstacle to businesses trying to deploy social software:
TRUE The "C" word popped up in every session I attended and usually was heard multiple times per session. The question debated at the conference was a chicken and egg one; must culture change to support adoption of E2.0 practices and tools, or is E2.0 a transformational force capable of reshaping an organization’s culture and behaviors? That question remains unanswered, in part because of the lack of E2.0 case studies. However, historical data and observations on enterprise adoption of previous generations of collaboration technologies tell us that leadership must be willing to change the fundamental values, attitudes, and behaviors of the organization in order to improve collaboration. Grassroots evangelism for, and usage of, collaboration tools is not powerful enough to drive lasting cultural change in the face of resistance from leadership.

A nascent understanding that E2.0 projects must touch specific, cross-organizational business processes in order to drive transformation and provide benefit: TRUE I was very pleased to hear users, vendors, and analysts/consultants singing from the same page in this regard. Everyone I heard at E2.0 Conference understood that it would be difficult to realize and demonstrate benefits from E2.0 initiatives that did not address specific business processes spanning organizational boundaries. The E2.0 movement seems to have moved from speaking about benefits in general, soft terms to groping for how to demonstrate process-based ROI (more on this below.)

A growing realization that the E2.0 adoption will not accelerate meaningfully until more conservative organizations hear and see how other companies have achieved specific business results and return on investment: TRUE Conference attendees were confounded by two related issues; the lack of demonstrative case studies and the absence of a clear, currency-based business case for E2.0 initiatives. More conservative organizations won’t move ahead with E2.0 initiatives until they can see at least one of those things and some will demand both. People from end user organizations attending the conference admitted as much both publicly and privately.

A new awareness that social software and its implementations must include user, process, and tool analytics if we are ever to build a ROI case that is stated in terms of currency, not anecdotes:
TRUE Interestingly, the E2.0 software vendors are leading this charge, not their customers. A surprising number of vendors were talking about analytics in meetings and briefings I had at the conference, and many were announcing the current or future addition of those capabilities to their offerings at the show. E2.0 software is increasingly enabling organizations to measure the kinds of metrics that will allow them to build a currency-based business case following a pilot implementation. Even better, some vendors are mining their products’ new analytics capabilities to recommend relevant people and content to system users!

That more software vendors that have entered the E2.0 market, attracted by the size of the business opportunity around social software:
TRUE I haven’t counted and compared the number of vendors in Gartner’s E2.0 Magic Quadrant from last year and this year, but I can definitely tell you that the number of vendors in this market has increased. This could be the subject of another blog post, and I won’t go into great detail here. There are a few new entrants that are offering E2.0 suites or platforms (most notably Open Text). Additionally, the entrenchment of SharePoint 2007 in the market has spawned many small startup vendors adding social capabilities on top of SharePoint. The proliferation of these vendors underscores the current state of dissatisfaction with SharePoint 2007 as an E2.0 platform. It also foreshadows a large market shakeout that will likely occur when Microsoft releases SharePoint 2010.

A poor opinion of, and potentially some backlash against, Microsoft SharePoint as the foundation of an E2.0 solution; this will be tempered, however, by a belief that SharePoint 2010 will be a game changer and upset the current dynamics of the social software market:
TRUE Yes, there are many SharePoint critics out there and they tend to be more vocal than those who are satisfied with their SharePoint deployment. The anti-SharePoint t-shirts given away by Box.net at the conference sum up the attitude very well. Yet most critics seem to realize that the next release of SharePoint will address many of their current complaints. I heard more than one E2.0 conference attendee speculate on the ability of the startup vendors in the SharePoint ecosystem to survive when Microsoft releases SharePoint 2010.

An absence of understanding that social interactions are content-centric and, therefore, that user generated content must be managed in much the same manner as more formal documents:
FALSE Happily, I was wrong on this one. There was much discussion about user generated content at the conference, as well as talk about potential compliance issues surrounding E2.0 software. It seems that awareness of the importance of content in social systems is quite high among vendors and early adopters. The next step will be to translate that awareness into content management features and processes. That work has begun and should accelerate, judging by what I heard and
saw at the conference.

So there are the results. I batted .888! If you attended the conference, I’d appreciate your comments on my perceptions of the event. Did you hear and see the same things, or did the intense after hours drinking and major sleep deficit of last week cause me to hallucinate? I’d appreciate your comments even if you weren’t able to be at E2.0 Conference, but have been following the market with some regularity.

I hope this post has given you a decent sense of the current state of the Enterprise 2.0 market. More importantly, I believe that this information can help us focus our efforts to drive the E2.0 movement forward in the coming year. We can and should work together to best these challenges and make the most of these opportunities.

Speed Bumps for Early XBRL Filers, Users?

CFO Magazine has an article online today about XBRL early filers, and Gilbane’s Neal Hannon is quoted at length.

Enterprise 2.0 Conference Predictions

The Enterprise 2.0 Conference begins this evening in Boston. Conference organizers indicate that there are approximately 1,500 people registered for the event, which has become the largest one for those interested in the use of Web 2.0 technologies inside business organizations.

The most valuable part of last year’s conference was the case studies on Enterprise 2.0 (E2.0) from early adopter organizations like Lockheed Martin and the Central Intelligence Agency. They presented an early argument for how and why Web 2.0 could be used by businesses.

Here are some things that I anticipate encountering at the E2.0 Conference this year:
 

  • a few more case studies from end user organizations, but not enough to indicate that we’ve reached a tipping point in the E2.0 market
  • an acknowledgement that there are still not enough data and case studies to allow us to identify best practices in social software usage
  • that entrenched organizational culture remains the single largest obstacle to businesses trying to deploy social software
  • a nascent understanding that E2.0 projects must touch specific, cross-organizational business processes in order to drive transformation and provide benefit
  • a growing realization that the E2.0 adoption will not accelerate meaningfully until more conservative organizations hear and see how other companies have achieved specific business results and return on investment
  • a new awareness that social software and its implementations must include user, process, and tool analytics if we are ever to build a ROI case that is stated in terms of currency, not anecdotes
  • that more software vendors that have entered the E2.0 market, attracted by the size of the business opportunity around social software
  • a poor opinion of, and potentially some backlash against, Microsoft SharePoint as the foundation of an E2.0 solution; this will be tempered, however, by a belief that SharePoint 2010 will be a game changer and upset the current dynamics of the social software market
  • an absence of understanding that social interactions are content-centric and, therefore, that user generated content must be managed in much the same manner as more formal documents

So there are some of my predictions for take-aways from this year’s E2.0 conference. I will publish a post-conference list of what I actually did hear and learn. That should make for some interesting comparison with today’s post; we will learn if my sense of the state of the market was accurate or just plain off.

In the meanwhile, I will be live-tweeting some of the sessions I attend so you can get a sense of what is being discussed at the E2.0 Conference on the fly. You can see my live tweets by following my event feed on Twitter.

New Content Globalization Case Study: FICO

Positioning content practices as strategic, making business cases that get funding, and selling up within the organization are among the most common challenges presented to Gilbane Group analysts in conversations with users, adopters, and buyers of content technologies. Our advice to clients always includes aligning the target investment with the strategic goals and objectives of the business. By placing content practices and infrastructures directly in the path of promises to customers and shareholders, managers improve their chances of securing financial and sponsorship support. In some cases, they can effect innovative change that not only advances their domain’s capabilities but also results in new value creation for the enterprise.

Gilbane believes that true innovation delivers new value to organizations that are willing to take the risks associated with fundamental, qualitative change. The innovations resulting from FICO’s alignment of product and content development practices with business strategies are object lessons for any organization that needs to compete effectively in global markets.

Download the FICO story here: Innovation3: The FICO Formula for Agile Global Expansion

Listen to the webinar archive here: Innovating for Agility: Global Content Practices at FICO

Deadline extended for Gilbane Boston speaking proposals

We’ve extended the deadline till end-of-day Friday the 19th.

http://gilbaneboston.com/

http://gilbane.com/speaker_guidelines.html

VFP XBRL Errors Will Not Carry Over to Mandatory Program

The article "Accuracy Essential to Success of XBRL Financial Filing Program," by Eileen Z. Taylor and Matt Shipman, NC State News, June 8, 2009 — has been widely talked about recently in XBRL circles. 

The key sentence in the news story about the academic paper states:

"The researchers are concerned that, if the upcoming XBRL filings do not represent a significant improvement from the voluntary reports, stakeholders in the financial community will not have any faith in the XBRL program – and it will be rendered relatively ineffective."

Wrong on at least two counts.  First, to assume that the quality of XBRL submissions in the formal, rule laden, error checking mandatory XBRL program is going to be as error ridden as the sand-box, free for all no rules VFP is flat out wrong.  I suggest the authors of the paper read the Edgar filing manual, chapter 6, which details hundreds of rules that must be followed for an XBRL exhibit will be accepted by the system.  In other words, almost every error found in the VFP by the researchers will rejected by the SEC and require correction.

Second, validation programs can correct some of the accounting errors introduced into XBRL filings, responsible and knowledgeable humans at filing corporations must review submissions prior to filing.  The management team is responsible for the data contained in the XBRL exhibits.  The SEC has specifically stated that they expect corporations to have in place an XBRL preparation process that is documented and tested in a similar fashion to other required internal controls.  An accounting error on any future XBRL exhibit is an indication that the company does not have sufficient internal controls in place.

No, I’m not expecting the startup to be perfect.  However, I do expect XBRL filings to be as accurate or more accurate that existing HTML EDGAR filings.