Curated for content, computing, and digital experience professionals

Month: February 2010 (Page 2 of 3)

Gilbane Group joins Outsell

Gilbane Group joins Outsell, Inc., Deepens Coverage of the Technologies Underlying the Transformation of the Information Industry

Burlingame, CA, Cambridge, MA and London, UK—February 9, 2010—Outsell, Inc. of Burlingame, CA and London, the leading research and advisory firm for the information and publishing industries, and Gilbane Group, the leading analyst and consulting firm covering content technologies, today announce that The Gilbane Group, based in Cambridge, MA, has joined Outsell.

The addition makes Outsell the only research and advisory firm with 360-degree coverage of the information industry—established and disruptive information providers, users, enterprises, advertisers, libraries and the technologies underlying the industry’s evolution.

“This event joins two leading analyst firms and broadens Outsell’s coverage in a very important area, where content meets technology,” said Anthea Stratigos, Outsell’s Co-founder and CEO. “In the next decade, the information providers who succeed will ensure content is accessed and experienced in new and unique ways. Technology is fundamental to this strategy, and The Gilbane Group is the acknowledged authority in this important area.”

Founded in 1987, Gilbane provides fact-based, vendor-neutral coverage of advances and trends in content technology, looking at such areas as web content management, multilingual content, enterprise search, enterprise social media, publishing, XML, and XBRL. It also sponsors conferences on content and information management technologies in North America and Europe, including the upcoming Gilbane San Francisco conference (http://gilbanesf.com), and publishes reports on the same subjects that are read worldwide.

The organization will now operate as The Gilbane Group, a division of Outsell, Inc., under the leadership of founder Frank Gilbane, who will remain President. He will be joined by the full team of Gilbane analysts and consultants, led by Mary Laplante, Vice President Client Services and Senior Analyst, and Bill Trippe, Vice President Content Strategies and Lead Analyst.

“As a result of our two firms coming together, Outsell will be better able to serve our core markets of publishers, information providers and enterprises making content technology decisions, as well as investors looking at emerging content technology companies,” said Greg Chagaris, Outsell’s Co-founder and Corporate Development Officer.

“We have enormous respect for Outsell as one of the first firms to define the information industry, and predict the radical transformation in content delivery and consumption patterns that the Internet would bring. We’re delighted that by combining our industry and technology expertise and resources, we’ll be able to deliver even deeper, richer and more complete solutions to our clients,” said Frank Gilbane.

This is the third transaction that Outsell has completed since its 1998 founding. In 2006, Outsell acquired EPS (Electronic Publishing Services Ltd) of London, broadening its global coverage. In 2008, the firm also acquired the Business Research Division of Eduventures to strengthen its coverage of educational content and technology providers.

The Gilbane Group will remain in Cambridge, MA. With Gilbane, Outsell will now have a professional staff of 50 worldwide, in addition to nearly two dozen affiliate analysts and consultants.

See posts by Anthea Stratigos and Frank Gilbane.

ABOUT OUTSELL, INC.
Outsell is the only research and advisory firm focused on advancing the publishing and information industries. Our international team provides independent, fact-based analysis and actionable advice about competitors, markets, operational benchmarks, and best practices, so our clients thrive and grow in today’s fast-changing digital and global environment. Outsell tracks and analyzes over 7,000 information industry companies, as well as the needs, habits, and spending patterns of advertisers, enterprise information buyers, and end users. Outsell’s headquarters are in Burlingame, CA, with offices in London and in Cambridge, MA. Visit us at www.outsellinc.com.

About The Gilbane Group
The Gilbane Group is an analyst and consulting firm that has been writing and consulting about the strategic use of information technologies since 1987. We have helped organizations of all sizes from a wide variety of industries and governments. We work with the entire community of stakeholders including investors, enterprise buyers of IT, and technology suppliers. We have organized over 60 educational conferences in North America and Europe. Our next event is Gilbane San Francisco, May 18-20, 2010 – gilbanesf.com/. Information about our widely read newsletter, reports, white papers, case studies and analyst blogs is available at https://gilbane.com.

More on Gilbane Group plus Outsell Inc.

Many of you have seen the unofficial advanced coverage on Twitter yesterday, announcing that Gilbane Group has become part of Outsell Inc. Today is the day of the “official” announcement. You can also read a post from Outsell CEO, Anthea Stratigos. Here I provide a little additional information in the form of FAQs. Feel free to send me additional questions.

FAQs

Q. Why did Gilbane Group and Outsell decide to do this?
A. Gilbane Group and Outsell have been tracking each other for years, as we have served slightly different segments of the information industry; Outsell is focused on the business of information, and Gilbane Group is focused on the technology of information. Outsell co-founders Anthea Stratigos and Greg Chagaris and I often talked about how complementary our businesses were, and we finally decided it was time to do something about it. Why now? The simple answer is customer demand. Not that our customers were telling us to join together, but they were asking us for a broader set of services, that our new combined organization will be able to deliver.

Q. Why Outsell specifically?
A. We complement in other in many important ways:

Topic coverage – Outsell focuses on the business of content we focus on the technology of business content.

Customers – Outsell’s customers are about 70% information providers and 30% Enterprise information consumers and managers, Our customer base is 75-80% enterprise IT and information managers, and 20-25% content providers. Together we provide the full spectrum of business and technology. Also, Outsell’s customers are largely C-level executives, Gilbane customers are mostly VP, Director, and Managers of IT and line of business units, so we are now able to help organizations at multiple levels, and help coordinate far-reaching information strategies or technology deployments.

Products – Outsell revenue is mostly from subscription advisory services and C-level councils, and research on information usage and business model trends. Gilbane revenue is mostly from strategic consulting projects advising on technology usage, practices and trends.

Business Model – Both companies have a combination of complementary revenue streams, and utilize both deep in-house expertise, complemented by a broad base of expert affiliates.

Ethics: We have the same commitment to business ethics. Outsell’s published Ethics policy expresses the same values that our customers, partners and competitors are used to receiving from us.

Q. What does this mean to Gilbane Group personnel?
A.
All Gilbane Group personnel except for finance and HR remain in their current roles.

Q. What does this mean to Gilbane Group customers?
A.
All Gilbane Group customers will continue to receive all the products and services they have signed up for and are used to receiving, and all coverage areas will continue. Additional products, services, resources and coverage areas will be available as we move forward.

Q. What does this mean for the Gilbane conferences?
A.
The Gilbane Group will continue to partner with Lighthouse Seminars to produce the Gilbane events. (Our next conference is Gilbane San Francisco, May 18 – 20).

Gilbane Group Welcomes New Experts

We’re pleased to announce that Gilbane Group has welcomed three new senior analysts and consultants:  Vince Emery, Karen Golden, and Sue Willard.

Vince, Karen, and Sue come to us with stellar credentials and the kind of “been-there-done-that” expertise that is a Gilbane competitive advantage as an analyst and consulting firm. Their bios have been posted on our consultants page.
 
With a background in global branding and multilingual content and web presence, Vince will be a key part of the team covering the intersection of our Content Globalization and Web Content Management Practices. He is based in San Francisco and strengthens Gilbane’s Bay Area presence.
 
Sue’s expertise in multilingual content, localization, and project management brings a new voice to our Content Globalization practice, and her insights into helping companies understand what’s involved in technology implementation will serve Gilbane’s user clients very well.  
 
Karen’s background in a variety of structured content applications, content analysis, and web analytics will enable her to contribute across several Gilbane practice areas. Her experience as a buyer and implementer of content technologies will be especially valuable as we develop new programs and services that align with Gilbane’s market education mission.
 
Our newest team members will be posting their first blog entries shortly. Look for them on Twitter, too.
 
Welcome, Sue, Vince, and Karen!

The Seven Deadly… Publishing Systems

Perhaps it is not as much fun as naming all the seven deadly sins, but we’ve been having a great time deciding just how many systems are in play in publishing.  Of course, one of the difficulties of such a task is that there are many different types of publishers.

Here’s our take:

1.    planning
2.    editorial and production
3.    rights and royalties
4.    manufacturing
5.    promotion and marketing
6.    sales and licensing
7.    distribution and fulfillment

There’s a great deal of room for niggling on this breakout where planning and editorial, to some, for example, may be practiced as a tightly integrated process, or royalties and rights are actually handled by distinct departments.  The breakout could change as we continue our conversations with publishers, but our best guess is that there is no single unassailable breakout, and so we’re hoping this one will do for the purposes of exploring how CMS ties to various business processes common to publishing.

But, hey, we like a good argument, so feel free to make one!

For more information about our Publishing Practices consulting services and our multi-client-sponsored studies, contact Ralph Marto.

How will the Apple iPad cause headaches for creators of multilingual content?

Apple recently unveiled its new iPad device with a flourish of global PR. iPads will go on sale in the U.S. around the end of March this year, and in other countries in the following months. Press and analysts have had a field day praising and condemning the iPad’s capabilities and features, predicting (depending on who you listen to) that the device will be either a terrible flop or another runaway success for Apple.

My analysis predicts that Apple will sell millions of units of its new “universal media device,” as analyst Ned May of Outsell Inc. describes it, but Apple’s success is not my subject today. Instead, it’s a warning: People who generate content for global markets need to know how the iPad might make their work more difficult.

The problem is caused by a technical gap the new iPad shares with its older siblings, the iPhone and the iPod touch. None of them can use Adobe Flash. (For more on Apple’s deliberate omission of Flash and its consequences, see this New York Times story and this one.)

Thousands of global businesses use Flash movies with captions or voiceover narration as quick, relatively low-cost ways to present marketing videos and user guides over the Web to multilingual audiences. For these businesses and the agencies that work with them, the Flash gap is a growing problem. Instead of Flash movies, millions of iPhone and iPod Touch users see blank white spaces. The iPad boasts a larger screen, with display capabilities that will be attractive for business tasks. But all those millions of Flash animations and interviews and guides and other videos will be invisible. Just blank white spaces, no matter what language you speak. That is the Flash gap, which the iPad will make worse.

The alternative is to deliver videos using HTML5. But not all web browsers work with HTML5. Neither do all devices, especially mobile devices. This means Web video providers need to research what specific devices their target audiences use, and what video technology those devices will support.

So if you provide multilingual video content, you have one more detail to pay attention to when you plan your schedules and budget.

Open Text to Acquire Nstein

Open Text Corporation (NASDAQ:OTEX) (TSX: OTC) and Nstein Technologies Inc. (TSX-V: EIN) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement by which Open Text will acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Nstein through an Nstein shareholder-approved amalgamation with a subsidiary of Open Text under the Companies Act (Québec). Based on the terms of the definitive agreement, Nstein shareholders will receive for each Nstein common share, CDN $0.65 in cash, unless certain eligible shareholders otherwise elect to receive a fraction of an Open Text TSX traded common share, having a value of CDN $0.65 based on the volume weighted average trading price of Open Text TSX traded common shares in the 10 trading day period immediately preceding the closing date of the acquisition. This purchase price represents a premium of approximately 100 percent above the 30 trading day average closing price of Nstein’s common shares. The transaction is valued at approximately CDN $35 million. Based in Montreal, Nstein’s solutions are sold across market segments such as media and information services, life sciences and government. The transaction is expected to close in the second calendar quarter and is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval of two-thirds of the votes cast by Nstein’s shareholders and applicable regulatory and stock exchange approvals. A special meeting of Nstein’s shareholders is expected to be held to consider the amalgamation in early April, 2010. http://www.opentext.com, http://www.nstein.com

What is the Price and What is the Cost?

Enterprise software pricing runs the gamut from nominal to 100s of thousands of dollars. Unless software for enterprise search reaches a commodity status with a defined baseline of functional specifications, the marketplace will continue to be confused and highly segmented.

What buyers need to do first is to stop limiting their procurement selection choices based primarily on license prices. When enterprises begin their selection by considering prices first, many options are eliminated that may be functionally more appropriate and for which the total cost of ownership may be even less.

Product pricing correlates more to the market domain in which a vendor sells or aims to sell than to actual product value per installed user. Therefore, companies in the small to mid-range are particularly vulnerable to unreasonable licensing. I have written about this before but it bears repeating, the strength of the underlying technology has little to do with the price but can influence the total-cost-of-ownership (TCO) dramatically.

Buyers often believe high license price relates to top product value; in general you still need to add another 60-80% for services and support costs to get that value out. But let’s look at the business reality and corporate context for sellers of high-priced enterprise search.

Net sales of any company that is large is a significant determinant of its reputation and potential staying power in its industry. However, when actual sales for a search product line are a tiny fraction of total company revenue, potential buyers of enterprise search need to know that and factor it into their decision-making for these reasons:

  • The largest software companies are heavily vested in subscribing to analyst services that write about the industry. They are diligent in reporting their sales figures to those companies and publications that do annual surveys on various industry segments. The reporting is usually careful to note when revenues for a particular sector ( like search) are not broken out, but this often escapes the notice of buyers who only see that company X has enormous revenues compared to others. This leaves the impression that they are also a standout in the search sector.
  • The fact that a company offers many software products, of which search is only one, has often resulted from acquisition of a lot of products. Search may only be in the mix because it complements other products. The company may or may not have actually retained the technology gurus who originally designed, developed and supported the software. A lot of software quickly becomes stale once acquired by a third-party.
  • When a very large company offers many products, it focuses sales, account management, support and development on those with the largest revenue stream or growth potential. Marketing for marginal products may be sustained for a longer period to bring in “easy” business but unfortunately, for too long, search has been treated as a loss leader to attract revenues for other product lines. Where “search” fits into a mix of products, how well it will be serviced and supported over time may be difficult to discern.
  • The final situation that happens for very large software companies is that competition is an ever-present cause for shifting agendas. The largest software firms will often abandon technologies whose architecture, unique functions and even their customers do not fit their changing market interests. They will abandon products for which they have paid huge sums once the initial value of the procurement has been realized, when a product’s technology has been captured for embedding in other product suites, or if the product is no longer viewed as strategic.

In the next blog posting we’ll take a look at some other reasons that vendors make and then abandon their acquisitions. But in the meantime, here is a recommendation to buying decision-makers:

When you see a very long list of customer logos on the web sites of major software vendors there is important context that is not provided. Large corporations can and do buy competing products all the time. Some products get into enterprise-wide use and adoption for the long term while others are used briefly or in smaller applications. You can’t know whether a product is even in use in the company whose logo is displayed.

Because it is almost impossible for an outsider to find the actual buyer/user of a product in a large enterprise; the posted logos tell you little. Inside an enterprise one may discover endless tales of when, why and how competing products were acquired, many as part of package deals or through a subsidiary acquisition. What is also true is that stories of successful implementations or brand loyalty do not abound.

For you who are new to enterprise search, take control of your own destiny by educating yourself using a lower priced product with a good reputation for a niche application. Invest your budget instead in human resources (internal or 3rd party) to craft the solution you really need.

Start with a vision of appropriate scale, tackling a small domain of high value content that is currently hard to find in your organization.

Use the experience of implementing and leveraging this search product and engaging with the vendor to bring a deeper understanding of the technology and applications of search. Working with a vendor dedicated exclusively to search will have another cost benefit because of the focused attention you are more likely to receive. Delving deeply into planning and implementation for a targeted result will have a cost that brings multiple benefits moving forward to larger and more complex implementations – even if you move on to another product.

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