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End of day 2, no 3, and the plot thickens

July 12th, 2017 Comments off

Oops, I missed a day. The plan was… just a plan and plans are there to be changed. Sticking to the plan, I could have done a blog about hockey or rum & coke. But all Canadians know by now that I talk about field hockey and not ice hockey. So, I’m far from an expert on that subject. And the rum & coke last night, made it a major risk to write something and share it with the world.
Now that the first day of the expo is over and without plans for a night downtown with a drink or two, this is a good time to make this into a double blog.

The second half will be about the venue itself, the good, the bad and the ugly of my first day at Enterprise World after two days at the PartnerSummit. But first we need to be serious about the other products in the OpenText stack (or should I say opentext stack? If I’m correct in the new brand OpenText is all lower case??)

In this first part of the blog, I will talk about the product that I think will be a cash cow for Informed Consulting. Almost every expert I talk to within OpenText tells me that InfoArchive is the cash cow and stubborn as I am, I think of a different product. InfoArchive is not new to us. As a person who has a very high respect for Jeroen van Rotterdam (the visionary behind InfoArchive) I should be jumping to sell and implement this, but I’m not (yet). I’m not saying it is not a cash cow, but I’m saying, it is not a cash cow for Informed Consulting (yet).

Let me explain. Our focus is heavily on compliancy demanding organizations like life sciences, engineering and regional government. The management, responsible for deciding about these types of implementations is always the business, not IT. InfoArchive is a solution focused on lowering the IT cost. A pure CTO decision. So to find the right person to talk to and gain their trust, is a lengthy process. Secondly, we’ve talked to a number of our clients about InfoArchive and they all recognize the problem, even could describe in detail what they would do to solve it, but as long as the legacy systems are running there are more pressing matters at hand that need to be solved. And lastly, we at Informed Consulting already had a number of discussions about how to setup a good and structured analysis process to define how you should setup your InfoArchive metadata structure. The question being: what are the 10 to 20 top questions to ask to understand how the data from the different solutions would be structured together. You could completely separate all different content/data parts but than you lose a lot of extra value.

So, if it is not InfoArchive, what will it be? Why do you ask? This should really be a no-brainer: ANALYTICS – iHub and friends. I’m adding the perfect slide that I got in one of the sessions, because I think this picture says more than a 1,000 words.OpenText Analytics Suite

This approach to analytics is so simple and yet so perfect, that you (we) should be able to convince every customer that this is a mandatory product. The problems with the information overload is clear to anyone. The need to bring structure to the massive piles of unstructured information is also clear. The fact that you need to use the available structured data to bring more structure in unstructured data can be distilled easily from that. So what are the challenges?

  1. It should be configuration only. If you need too much IT involvement when configuring/adding new data streams to it, it will lose traction with the business and they will try other options, like MS Access, MS Excel or other stuff. I don’t know the answer from iHub yet on this, but my first impression is very good.
  2. Clear description/selection about which process to follow when adding a data stream: is it unstructured data?, does it need text analysis?, does it need interpretation?, does it need AI analysis?, etc. etc.
  3. Easy to create and adapt the user interface: With dashboards, the user experience is everything. The problem with that is that currently the standards for a good design are changing on an almost daily basis. So this should be very simple and very flexible.
  4. An easy wysiwyg editor to relate data from different streams to identify the relations between data.
  5. Pricing: for the delivered functionality, a good (high) price is very justifiable, but there is a major risk that point solutions, like repository specific reporting tools with a much lower price, will be chosen because they can deliver the base trick. So there needs to be a lightweight start module that will get the solution going to easily upgrade once the demand is there.

As I don’t know for sure any of the answers on these 5 challenges, I have my work cut out for me the coming weeks. So, the product needs to be in very bad shape not to end up in the portfolio of Informed Consulting (if we are permitted to resell and implement it 😄). A lot of food for thought.

Now for the second part: the good, the bad and the ugly of the #OTEW venue (not the actual content of the conference, but the setup). As a user conference veteran, you see that all event agencies in North America look closely at each other, and conference venues all use a number of standard concepts. So, there is not much unique on that side to report. But there are some minor points to mention:

The good:

  • Having buses and tuk-tuks with the OT logo on it makes you feel more special.
  • Being able to make your own fresh toast at breakfast for the small crowd of 4,000 eating people. I have not seen this before and it gets a big applause!

The bad:

  •  The expo hall is chaotic. All Pods are randomly filled with a product. Not only all partners are random, but there is also no structure in the OT Pod layout. So, I see all attendees scouring the room to find some info. Next time please make information groups.

The ugly:

  • No, I’m not sharing pictures of all the sweating people I saw after breakfast. It is 3 floors up, walk over the street, 2 floors down again, a nice walk and then end it all with another floor down to get to the expo. Yes elevators… but still,  this is nasty.

Going to think with my eyes closed now…

The end of day 1 – way too much information

July 9th, 2017 Comments off

My first PartnerSummit day at OpenText. Wow, that was heavy. There is so much to hear, think, discuss that I’m beat. Lying in my bed in the hotel to have some quiet (with the live band rocking downstairs😬) trying to sort all the info I gathered today and see how I can make this into a structured blog…

Maybe I need some data analytics to define structure, or get some concepts groups going to get relevance in my information search? For people who know me, they know it is not easy to structure my brain and no artificial intelligence will be able to work with this mess, so I’m stuck to my own brain and see what falls out.

The task I set out to accomplish today was to identify at least 4 products that would be a great addition to our portfolio. But after one day and way (WAY) to many products, I must admit: this is going to take a little bit longer. 😀

But the simple joke about my brain is so relevant for the journey we as a consulting company are on, that this will be the red line for this blog. The focus of Informed Consulting is very much on helping clients identify and address/manage their compliance demands. Supporting their journey of controlling the information processes that are relevant to being compliant. It does not really matter if you are in the life sciences space, an engineering company, a government agency or a bank. Our clients all have growing demands to meet their industry specific compliance demands. Until recently (1-2 years) Documentum could fulfill most of the demands and that was what we offered. But times are rapidly changing, even a mid-size pharma company has a enormous amount of info that needs to be managed and reused and just a ‘simple’ ECM system, meta-data taxonomy and search will not do the trick. We need to be able to give the client a total experience that will give them the ability to fit their compliance need in their overall EIM vision and tooling to guarantee the best experience, both for users and for the company.

Hey, that sounds familiar: Connecting people to the enterprise. The slogan that has been our vision the past 7 years is still, more than ever, alive!

But why, if we have been doing this already for years, is change needed? We live in a spectacular time. Simply put, on both sides of this equation (user and enterprise) the demands are exponentially growing. That, topped with a more than exponential growth in data, demands a total vertically focused solution, specific for the client. NO, not custom built, but a carefully packaged set of products, specifically targeted at the client’s needs. The challenging task of the new ECM Consultancy firms is not only to have the best developers or configurators. No, it is to have the best architects who can create an out-of-the-box, total solution, based on a predefined set of products, all handpicked and configured (composed) to meet the needs of that specific customer in that specific vertical market and to have an implementation team that understands the vertical and the vision of the architect and is able to deliver that before a very time sensitive deadline.

So that is what we at Informed Consulting have been doing the past years and we have a clear plan how we can deliver the much needed expertise to make that total solution. And now that Documentum is part of the rich set of products of OpenText we can rapidly deliver this total solution based on the products from OpenText combined with our tailor-made products for specific markets like our Quality Management Solution for the life sciences market.

For a life science company that total solution will include:

  • Documentum life sciences suite
  • eQMS express
  • SharePoint connector for Life Sciences for easy communication with partners in partner exchange
  • iHub for analytics to support that quick overview of all the states of the information and processes and manage and control every inspection
  • Decisiv to manage easy enterprise search not only in their ECM system but also in systems like their LIMS system. This is no eDiscovery but real AI driven enterprise search.
  • Blazon for regulator approved renditions
  • Marketing management that works with the ECM content
  • Customer communication management to streamline and audit all complaints and inspections
  • InfoArchive to really archive the old documents and make sure they stay compliant

And the list goes on and on. Sure, no client can do it all at once, but we have road map that will fit any client!

So, a great first day, with a happy partner and a SUPER road map for Documentum makes it complete.

Hope we can continue this happy flow for 6 more days!!

OpenText Enterprise World 2017 – Day 1

July 9th, 2017 1 comment

We are going into the 3th quarter of the acquisition of the ECD (Documentum) group in the OpenText family and the start of my first Enterprise World. A good time to start the first of my series of blogs around a user conference. The past 20 years it was Momentum or EMC World and I’m more than excited that it is now a software only conference and fully focused on EIM (for me still the extension of ECM).

So, in the blogs for the next 7 days I will focus on one aspect of the great OpenText portfolio and the things that will make my customer smile (or worried, if I see a challenge).

But how do I feel? What do I think of the merger so far? Questions I get asked more than daily and a good start of the blog series. In the beginning, I was careful with my answer. My company depends for about 65% on Documentum consultancy and products, so if this would suddenly disappear that would be not so good😊.

But now going into the 3th quarter of the game and the first full physical year of OpenText my answer is clear and open.

WHY DID THIS NOT HAPPEN SOONER!!

I think I was not unhappy as EMC partner. The ECD team was kept relatively separate from the rest and when you talked with the real architects of EMC they actually understood what ECM Software could bring to the whole information lifecycle vision of EMC.
But in the end the financial figures are clear. The hard dollars that ECD could bring to the table where not enough to have a loud voice and demand room for the much-needed choices. At OpenText everybody talks software for managing your enterprise information. You don’t need a loud voice to get someone to listen to the opportunities that are there in the ECM space.
The product managers from OpenText that I talk to from old ECD are all almost scared about the amount of help, support and vision they get from C-level management.

Is it all good? No this is real life, nothing is all perfect (except my wife and children😄).

Not all good product managers came or stayed with OpenText. Rohit Ghai is unique and he will be missed to support and fight for the Documentum vision. And last, not all products will have the same focus as they used to have.

But Jeroen, stop looking at the past 22 years and look at the great opportunities that lie ahead. The coming week I will focus on a number of the great opportunities that are the result of this merger and the chances it will give me and my team to offer to our clients.

A couple are simple:

– Documentum and analytics. A marriage that will last, but I will touch on that in a separate blog.

– Extended ECM for Documentum: OpenText (Muhi) WHY NOT, THIS SHOULD BE A NO BRAINER!

– Customer Experience Management using content from Documentum.

– LEAP App’s working with Content Suite content

– AppWorks working with Documentum content

Like a good discussion? Disagree or just want a nice talk? Come to our pod in the expo or respond to this blog or one of the next to follow.

#MMTM16: Case management: The good, the bad and the ugly

April 27th, 2016 Comments off

People who have read my previous blogs know I have a soft spot for xCP and case management according to Documentum. The past months I have wondered why this is.

The first and easy answer is the fact that probably more that 70% of the solutions I personally have implemented for my clients, where some sort of case management implementation. The next question I asked myself was: What do you mean: case management? It was all document management! What makes it different from the other solutions? Thinking more and more about that question made it clearer where my soft spot comes from. IMG_0797_small

People who work with me will confirm: I am a bit more than a little chaotic. To be able to function it is mandatory for me, to have an easy high level overview of all the stuff that is hanging somewhere on my to-do list. Case management is (in my eyes) exactly that functionality. Give every knowledge worker their own dashboard, with what is important for them at that point in time. And what I see in my day to day encounters with end users is that demand, that thirst, for that overview from every knowledge worker.

IMG_0820_smallIt is never about one document only. It is always about a group of information items that have, at this specific point in time, a relation with each other and this relation has a certain current status, that makes it important to show to me (a knowledge worker) right now. I need to be able to drill down to the specific pieces of information and change all pieces at once, separate or in combinations. This has to do with the fact that most (but not all) knowledge workers don’t work on one large document, but on a lot of separate pieces of information that need to be handled quickly. When you are part of the quality authors of a life sciences company or managing all assets of a large power-plant (my other 30% of the solutions I implemented), having a real document centric management system, that has the focus on that specific document and its related documents, is very important and demands an EDMS like D2. All the rest of us need xCP.

In my experience, all other types of document management systems will have way more to do with case management than with real, pure document centric management: Working on pieces of information that have some sort of relation with each other during their existence.

Case management is all about a good dashboard that shows you the right information for the task/action you want to perform.

Hand drawing Content flow chart on transparent wipe board.

With TaskSpace, Documentum took the first leap into the real case management world and showed that it is way better to have a Case Management solution that is built on the foundation of an ECM system than a Case Management system solely based on a relation database. This first go at a case management solution was good, but lacked a good and consistent developing environment and a flexible and very user friendly interface. (Beside some annoying bugs in the core)

And then came xCP2. The idea is so simple, but so great that I really jumped with excitement when I found this. This is really the vision we all were hoping for from EMC-ECD (IIG at that time). This is the good in my story. The product team, who came up with this approach, should be decorated :-). Sure, the 2.0 version was far from perfect, it had too much issues and lacked some functionality to make easy deployment and testing possible, but it was clear that this is the direction that Case Management needs to go.

With the new version coming up, and the change in deployment strategy, ECD is taking the right approach to make this a very stable and easy to implement system.

IMG_0821_smallBut there is still a bad. This has to do with the fundament of information classification and the way Documentum is structured. It is easy to create a great app in xCP Designer and to make the perfect dashboard and underlying supporting pages. It is relative easy to make a workable deployment strategy to deploy new features and solve bugs without too much interference for end users. But once in production with the number of cases growing rapidly, that great dashboard becomes slow, slower, the slowest… At first, you have happy end users, who love the possibilities of designing their interface together, and the flexibility and modern look and feel you can give them. Suddenly, after a couple of months their comments are a bit more cold and distant. In the end, the solution is still good and they are happy, but you feel that the performance of their first and main screen is getting annoying.

So my hope when it comes to xCP and Momentum 2016 is that the new product team of xCP has put a lot of thought and effort in the performance improvement of the historical queries in xCP. Challenge Jeroen van Rotterdam and his baby xPlore (xDB) to make those queries super-fast. A whole xCP solution is as good as the main dashboard!!

Digital TransformationAnd then came the ugly. Don’t be alarmed ECD, this time it is nothing you need to change :-). The ugly is all about the fight between the top 5 big IT companies who like to annoy each other by downgrading the support for the others fundament. It started with Apple who did not like Microsoft Silverlight or Adobe’s Flash. The arrogance to just not support it, shows how big their ego is. But that was only the beginning. Now a lot of browser-companies don’t like Oracle and push to the limits to make the use of Java in your back-end web-application difficult or even impossible (Chrome). And last but not least Microsoft, who is doing so great in trying to be friends with everybody now that Nadella is behind the steering-wheel, still needs to show the strength to the others. JavaScript is the most common used front-end languages to create a dynamic webpage. It is the new standard for web development and the only easy way to fulfil the UX demands of the new user. But why should that be of any concern to Microsoft or Mozilla? Sure it is easy to shout about security issues and all, but in the end it is just budget that makes it not possible to make JavaScript run very fast. To see the difference in performance of an xCP application between IE10 and Firefox and Chrome is frightening. Even the new Microsoft Edge is still lacking compared to the others and we see no improvement in JavaScript speed in the new versions of Firefox. So the ugly is only something we can hope will improve but is for sure a challenge we consultants need to be aware of when implementing the next great Case Management solution in xCP.

Mmtm16. Where did the disruption go?

April 11th, 2016 Comments off

It has been almost 12 month since Rohit spoke the heavy weighting words: We need to disrupt the ECM Space. Change is needed and there needs to be an alternative for the 2de platform. A new direction for ECM!

In the first blog leading to Momentum 2016 it is a good time to reflect what has happened since that bold statement and some reflection from the years before and how Rohit got to that statement. Momentum16 will be my 21st Momentum to get to the vision I will express below and since I got in contact with Documentum in 1995 a lot has happened and I am all for a new direction or a new step in maturity of ECM, but is it that easy/doable?

P1

In 1982 when Howard Shao and his team came up with Documentum and the object-related model with a very extensive and flexible security model, it was new and changed the world of ECM. It is impressive to see that the dm_sysobject and the dm_acl are still the fundament of Documentum. But a concept of 1982? Is that still actual and in line with the ‘new normal’ of this digital age? It is good to look back and see what has happened with Documentum and why and try to make some conclusions about the best steps (according to me).

When I startedP2 with Documentum we were in the top of the client/server age. Documentum had their super client WorkSpace. A heavy duty client application with for that time very flexible interface with a lot of functionality and a more than acceptable performance. In those times performance was the main pain. The hardware and database capacity made all ECM systems slow and the immaturity of the platform made it often a challenge to get them ready for production.

In 1998 my first Momentum we were all amazed by the new concept of the browser and Documentum came with their version of an application server with a full interface in it. Whitney Tidmarsh gave a super in-depth session about the new three-tier model and RightSite and we all knew we would win the world. Documentum was ahead of the competition but maybe a bit too fast and the performance and stability of the whole stack was a challenge. Still making a solution with Documentum was so much easier that their competitors like FileNet or Open Image (Wang). Why was that? It is simple: the base was so strong and consistent that it you really could focus on the other challenges.P3

And the world changed and open source showed its face and the web became more flexible. Rightsite was becoming out dated. Documentum invented there 7 layer configuration model for the web: WDK. The idea might have been good but maintaining any changes was tricky. WebTop is still used a lot, everybody complains about the outdated interface but I have seen a lot of great implementation that really gave great ECM support to companies across the world. And why is that? I think the answer is still simple: the base is so good: dm_sysobject and dc_acl.

And now iP7n the new normal with IoT where the world demands user friendly and flexible IT, Documentum comes with D2 and xCP2 with interfaces that meet the demand for UX, flexibility and maintainability. With now the front end in control and mature we see that implementing a good and solid Documentum solution is easy if you know how to combine the perfect foundation with the flexible interface options. It seems that we are there and we can take over the world again.

 

P4

But simultaneous with a great UX everybody demands the cloud and more precise the public cloud. Jeroen van Rotterdam was very right in his statement that Documentum can do a lot but it is not a multi-tenant environment that fulfills all demands for tenant separation and control. So EMC-ECD needs to come with a new platform with new demands and possibilities. So project NextGen Server was started and somewhere last year it would change to Project Horizon. What I expected of this was that it would be so very different and new and all that great stuff but that something would not change: the base is so good: dm_sysobject and dc_acl.

11 month after the announcement of Rohit I have to say: I don’t know. I have seen a number of demo’s/video’s of Snap, Exchange, Assent, Jazz and Shelf but that is all, no release date, no playgrounds for partners etc.. So the conclusion for now is simple: Did EMC disrupt the ECM space? Not in 2015 and the most important announcement we want for MMTM16 will be about the progress and availability of the disruption: Project Horizon or what the new name is going to be…….P5

What have I seen sofar: dm_sysobject and dm_acl are gone…. There might be a building block or two that might give you some sort of basic object model but for the rest it is all XML so you are free to make a mess out of it. I’m worried that this will mean that we will not reuse the power of Documentum in its new generation and I think that will be a missed opportunity.

What is interesting to see is that in the other big win from EMC-ECD: InfoArchive they started off only with xDB (The XML-database) to archive all stuff, but before the solution came to its full potential more control and security was needed and in the end the conclusion was: We need a strong security model and the ability to define clear objects and object-structure  as powerful and flexible as in Documentum, so we just added the content server from Documentum to the mix and suddenly InfoArchive is very secure and strcutured. Why, you can guess, Documentum has it perfect dm_sysobject and dm_acl.

P6So what do I expect to hear at @MMTM16 when it comes to the public cloud? A lot about the new name for Project Horizon and a lot about the perfect new app’s that EMC-ECD has created on the platform, but hopefully also something about the perfect fundament that demands structure and control in your object configuration and security that mimics a lot like: dm_sysobject and dm_acl!! And last but not least the way we partners of EMC-ECD can reuse this potential disruption of ECM, because the only way EMC-ECD is capable of disrupting the ECM space is by allowing partners like Informed Consulting to build the prefect vertical apps that will rock the world.

What’s up next? In my next blog I’ll try to reflect my thought about Documentum xCP3.0 (or 2.3??) and what is the good, the bad and the ugly is in the new IoS case management.

 

A Case of Component Based Authoring

September 30th, 2015 Comments off

Component Based AuthoringYesterday afternoon I attended an EMC webinar about their Next Generation solutions for Life Science, when a slide passed by about Component Based Authoring. It was a different way of expressing the same subject Jeroen van Rotterdam addressed recently in his EMC Spark blog called ‘Who is using Word?‘ From that blog, comes this quote:

Then there is the trend towards targeted point solutions with very domain-specific capabilities to create these smaller chunks of content. A generic word processor is far from efficient in this scenario, and even harder to customize with the desired user experience. Content creation applications are so much more powerful in a business context and becoming less focused on text.

It’s fun to read about a trend – in this case Component Based Authoring – when you’re already practising this approach. It feels for me as if this is the only way forward in case based solutions being delivered today.

My current project is implementing an EMC xCP based solution to support a decision making process where each decision is backed by carefully build cases.

In its previous implementation, documents were the content containers. A lot of copying and rewriting was taking place. A cumbersome and error prone way of working. We didn’t investigate it, but if I were to place a bet, I would say that it’s almost a guarantee that each document is formatted uniquely and it’s highly likely that not every document contains the mandatory information. The flip-side of the coin is, that this freedom is very well received by the end-user who is using Microsoft Word, a tool perceived as very user friendly and productive (don’t get me started…), to let his creativity flow.
You could argue that the needs of the end-user are prevailing over those of the enterprise. At Informed Consulting we believe that connecting people and the enterprise should be a win-win situation and is key to success.

With the new xCP solution we’re applying Component Based Authoring and Word is now only needed for the supporting documents. Not for the key information of the case. That key information is divided into logical components and authored independently. With this approach we created a balance between both user and enterprise needs. But in order to achieve this, more is needed than just solving the challenge of business process re-engineering. In fact, in this case the process is hardly changed.

Once you know what key information you need to capture, it’s time to let the UX (user experience) designer do her thing. My colleague Sandra did a tremendous job with the key users, to design screens for both capturing and displaying information. There has to be a natural order in the information that fits the way of working in the business. This means defining where on the screen a content component is positioned for a particular role (yes, different roles will typically lead to different positioning…), which content components need just plain text formatting and which need rich text to be able to add lists, mark text bold or even include hyperlinks but on the other hand prevent the usage of fonts other than what the corporate style-guide dictates. It means defining where you need to restrict input to predefined taxonomies (or just simple drop-down boxes populated with values) and where you need supporting wizards. A sample of the latter is one where the user provides answers and numbers after which the system draws a conclusion that is used as input for the decision. To cut a long story short, information with a good user experience will help to make the transition into component based authoring smooth.

Another key aspect is the transition from paper to digital. A topic on its own. In our project we opted for a gradual transition because it’s more than a business process change to replace meetings full of annotated documents, prepared off-line over the weekend, with information accessed digitally through tablets and laptops. As an intermediate, the individually authored content components are aggregated in PDF/A documents. These documents are available for on-line reading as well as printing. It’s now up to the business themselves to execute the behavioural change process. In the mean time they can still print and scribble away where and whenever they want.

The third aspect I want to mention is archiving. Although it should be part of your business process re-engineering, it typically isn’t. Too often archiving is not seen as a business process. But even if it is, it’s a beast of its own. Still today it is common practice to archive ‘just’ documents. With component based authoring, you can no longer think in terms of archiving documents. Neither can you think in terms of archiving these content components on their own. They have relationships with other content components and together they have meaning. A content component that holds the annotation of an approval, only has meaning in its context. Archiving thus needs to evolve into Contextual Archiving whereby containers are archived and these containers include the appropriate content components as well as their relationships. Rethinking needs to be done around the purpose of the archival and the retention policies. How can you meet the archival goals for a case if key information in that case needs to be destroyed before the case itself gets destroyed? And what will regulators say when you include a content component into multiple containers which are managed independently and whereby not all (logical) instances of the content components are destroyed simultaneously? When you think about it, component based authoring reveals what has been hidden under the covers of a Word document for a long time: we didn’t manage the information but only the container that carried that information…

Times are changing in the ECM playing field. New ways of working, progressing technology, distributed collaboration and blurring boundaries pave the way into an interesting future. Next-Gen ECM / Next-Gen Information Management… Welcome into my world!

 

This post also appeared on LinkedIn.

EMC World 2015: Counting it all up to disrupt the ECM Space

May 25th, 2015 Comments off

EMC World 2015 is over. Once I arrived in the chaos of Vegas there is no stopping and now a full month after the fact and after the rush it is a good time to settle down and see what the impact of the great week will be. Normally I should have done this directly after the venue, but the world spins way too fast and because of some organizational changes within Informed my mind was somewhere else. 

So EMCW2015 what is there to tell?

First the important stuff, my seven year old will not let me through the door without any goodies. I have to say, for the first time the number of childish goodies was limited. Finally I found some, but because of the great fingerlights from Jacqui during the awsome Momentum party I was saved 🙂

Now for the serious stuff, my daughther will again play a role in my findings this year. For people who read more of my blogs you know I like the vision of Peter Hinsen about the ‘New normal’. This is the age where the way of people is changing from getting used to digtal to being native to everything digital. Looking at my daugther who does not need any help from papa to understand the difference (and similarity) between a touchscreen, touchpad on a laptop or the mouse of those old computers she has at school. They work on it without any training. You see the vision at work. I’m not one of those guys who talks about that this is the most, fastest, most impacted change ever happend to men, but the change is happening and it is happening now. Fire, wheels, ships electricity etc. etc., all with more impact, but I’m proud to be part of this change.

As a graduate of Technical Informatics it is not easy to say but there are childeren with no education what so ever  in that area, who know more about some areas of IT than me. Biking, eating, dancing, it does not matter what they do, texting can be done simultaneously and understanding how to make sure it ends up at the right people is simple (for them), so absorbing info is also possible while doing other stuff. Disucssing this or stating the strangeness of these combined actions is stupid and definitely makes you old!

But what has this all to do with ECMW2015. Actually a lot. Lee Dallas warned us that there will be a lot more EMC during Momentum. He did not say it was a bad thing, but just a warning. Reading the warning always make me cautious. Why do I need to know about super fast SCSI or the new super stable, super big SSD Drives? In my ECM niche of the IT world that is less important. But this time I was totally wrong, yes there was a lot of EMC Core stuff during Momentum, but it was all good, even for an ECM geek like me.

After this event I hope the voice finally is quiet about EMC selling Documentum or the whole ECM stack. The grand speech of Joe Tucci was very clear. We are in the age of the Digital Enterprise and as a company to survive in this new era the company needs to focus on managing the digital waves that will hit them the coming years. Survival of a large enterprise will be measured on the ability to manage the disruption in IT and the way people in their enterprise communicate. Is the enterprise able to stay on the opportunistic side of this digital wave? Great words of a vision that hits the challenge we are facing on the spot. He talks about the four major items to control: Documents, videos, images and information. So he tells it very clear, EMC is all about managing all sorts of data, structured or unstructured. So EDC as the Documentum group is now called is the face of that vision. Without ECD that vision will crumble.

It got even better with the talk of Rohit. His speech about the disruption of ECM should be mandatory for all. It was a more than challenging speech where he stated that there will be an end of live for Documentum as we know it…..

but there is light at the tunnel for us Documentum lovers. We all knew that somewhere it needs to stop, but what will replace it? Last year Jeroen van Rotterdam introduced his new platform in the cloud. A multi tenant version of something that might look like an ECM system but in fact is a data lake that gives you the opportunitee to create an app on it. Technically a nice thing and already last year we at Informed started the process of our own app on it, but now the vision behind it has left the techy group and has landed with the big guns like Joe and Rohit. From ECD side with project Horizon and its sub projects we can all join this new thing. The new platform is not a Documentum thing it is a whole stack of IT stuff all put together and all owned by EMC. This is the EMC Federation or like I will call it the EMC family. This whole soultion that offers the ability to create content tiles, containers or micro apps with a continous deployment is the fundament of EMC. It shows the power of the whole EMC family and EMC is the only company that has this combination of products to deliver this. Looking at it’s potential I forgot already that Documentum existed. It really is a disruption of the whole ECM space and leaves the competitions miles behind. As a consulting/solution company we will build our own tiles in the EMC cloud and without any disruption of availability, offer new tiles or update tiles for my clients who will pay us handsomely for all our perfect tools and solutions. I’m surfing the digital wave! 🙂

After I had landed from my dream of the future I saw a lot of challenges beside these opportunitees. Is the enterprise world ready for the major change? Sure we know that every youngster knows how to be a digital person, but what about a company? Do they accept this radical change? Twice already before EMCW clients of mine surprised me. I asked Jeroen van Rotterdam to join me at my clients and both times the client loved this new vision and already was open to the idea that (still somewhere in the future) all their IT solutions will be a micro-app somewhere in the fuzzy cloud. One was a pharma company and if pharma is ready for the cloud the rest better be or will be left behind. An other client told me they could not find new technical engineers as all that came to the job interview did not accept that the company was so behind in their IT and did not offer BYOD. 

It is still in the future but the enterprises are working up to the idea and I think once the first sheep is over the bridge/dam the rest will follow (nice apropriate Dutch expression). But how do they get there? It is easy to see the end result, but if you have your enterprise ECM system and paid good money for it and put a lot (realy a lot) of functionality (and work) in that one single enterprise solution, the transition to that new and bright future should be slow, baby steps. Pick out small functions from your current Documentum environment and make a tile out of it, migrate the data to the lake and start using it. It sounds easy and as everybody is already used to the whole app/tile concept, it might work. More and more business users demand specific apps on their mobile/tablet devices to do certain segmented actions, that picking the right function should not be so difficult.

Does this mean the end of Documentum? Yes, somewhere in 10 to 20 years. For now running an on-prem Documentum solution to manage your case in xCP2 is the best choice and will make you ready to transfer to this new and bright concept of the digital enterprise. As the whole new platform will reuse xCP designer as the tile creation interface, going for xCP as your choice of Documentum functionality is an easy decision. Using SPA4D as your interface will make your solution ready for the next step in the digital world.

Then there is also InfoArchive. During EMCWorld I had a great epiphany to create the perfect way of working. You start in a tile or (on-prem) Documentum solution to make a new information item. Once this item has a final state it will be moved to InfoArchive and be available to all in its final state. If there is a need for a revision or change it is automatically moved to the work in progress app (Tile, Documentum or Office365) and you can manage it. Even use the perfect collaboration functions of Office365 and SPA4D to leverage all that is good from Micorsoft. So SPA4InfoArchive will be available shortly. And why not make this flow also the base of your migration? All that is final goes to InfoArchive, create a micro-app on the new platform and once a change is needed it is checked-out in the new app and delivered to the end user in the new way of working. I see this option working, do you?? 

We also had a good discussion about what a tile or micro-app is. Is it as stated by Rohit the whole stack including the content and if you need that content in an other app you replicate? Or is it only the interface and the content should be stored in the full data lake and shared across mutiple tiles. I’m a hard figther for the latter as content/information should be stored only once. Or at least you should try to store it only once. The time to discuss this during World was way too short, but this one I want to continue as this will be an important demand for the security model in the data lake and the boundaries of the micro-apps.

Last but not least there was SPA4D. Our flagship in our product suite and the reason why I could not attend too many sessions. It hit the market like a bomb. I have never ever given so many demo’s and had so many positive reactions to a Documentum interface. Collaboration on Documentum content is possible and the world now understands that Informed Consulting is the only one who can offer it!!

So all in all a disruptive and opportunistic EMC World and a great show of vision and future by the company that has shown me again that they know what is happening in the world and are not afraid to make the hard decisions that need to be made to stay ahead of the pack.

Day 8 in the countdown and UI is key for Case Management

April 27th, 2015 1 comment

and the story continues…

Today is King’s Day in The Netherlands. A good day to dress in orange and have some fun. One of the ‘fun’ things is that everybody is allowed to sell their junk. A garage sale only with everybody together in one street on little carpets. In theory it is for kids but the parents control the cash. 🙂 Walking with my seven year old daughter and seeing her rushing through the stuff to find the perfect thing, I could not help and drift away to my previous blog. User Experience and case management.

Walking with hundreds of people in one little street and looking at hundreds of carpets with stuff, how do I see what I need and where I really should steer away from? There are some basic rules. If it is dirty, stay away. If it is boy stuff, probably not interesting; if it is all black and army green, same thing. If it is pink, white, light blue, stop and have a look; if there are two girls in the age of 10-14 sitting on the carpet, same thing. So in less that an hour we where able to ‘do’ the street and my daughter was some good stuff richer.

And doing good case management is all about this. How can I, as a designer, setup a page of a case or a task, in a way that the person looking at it can easily make a judgement on the case within seconds. Working with our user designers at Informed Consulting, I notice they use these same concepts I just described to create the PERFECT page:

  • Simple and serene look and feel;
  • Try to identify blocks of data that have some sort of understandable relationship within the whole case/task;
  • Use colors and/or icons to show states and actions;
  • Distinguish between viewing and editing;
  • ‘Important’ stuff should be in the top center;

And the list is longer, but when a good UI expert is finished, it all sounds so natural, so logical. It is super but sometimes also a bit frustrating to see the reactions of the users. I did spend hours and hours, to define all the requirements SMART and good, came up with the perfect solution and set of functions needed per role. But only when they have seen our mock-up, the users are getting excited: This is what I want, this is what we need! When do we get it?

Suddenly, that system that helps them do their tasks in the way the company wants them to, is actually fun to use and simple and easy. Things I did not hear a lot when developing a WebTop solution.

At our booth in the Momentum area we are showing our great products SPA4D and LoBConnect, but if you are interested in good xCP2 design or a good mock-up, please step up to our booth and I will show some great examples.

The challenge of managing a Documentum D2 interface

November 6th, 2012 Comments off

In June 2012, Documentum launched their all new interface D2 version 4. It is their answer to the new demand for flexibility in the new normal. After more than 10 years of struggling with the WDK clients this is what all Documentum users are waiting, no, begging for.

D2 was already there but that was a fully .net internet explorer only interface that needed a client install. This client was very life-science focussed but the first idea’s where very promising.
Now version 4 is here. It is html5 based and will work without install on a set of different browsers. It is based on the same configuration concept as the old D2. This blog is about that functionality.

Up front: I am really impressed about the look and feel of D2 and I applaud EMC for the decision to stop their own dev work and ‘buy’ a new interface. This blog is not about the tool itself but fully about the challenges for maintaining a flexible user interface on top of a very controlled and structured ECM solution.

The base of the configuration is based on a set of tables where roles in Documentum are mapped to functions and widgets. It is very easy to do and – in a demo – to show the impact and speed of a change and reason for applause.

But now to real life an example.

I’m a security officer of a large bank. We have defined 450 roles worldwide within 6 different regions and per region about 4 different departments.
A significant part of the users will work internationally and share, use and create content for multiple regions and within multiple departments that could vary per region.

When we used TaskSpace we had defined about 150 different functions that users should be able to do and should be presented independent of the other functions.
To make the user experience rich and flexible, we defined 50 external widgets like Google Maps and calculations connectors.

Simple calculations shows us that we will have (probably spread across 6 or 24 different views) 9000 cells in our tale(s) that I as the security officer need to manage.
It is my responsibility to guarantee that there are no wrong check-marks set between a role and a function. A challenge I must say.

IC View – 3 QTR 2011

October 7th, 2011 Comments off

IC View                      3 QTR 2011

 

We’ve had a great third quarter and what looks to be a very busy and exciting 4th quarter. We are seeing a lot of new requests for integrating SharePoint with various ECM solutions. Companies are seeking to gain all the benefits of SharePoint while meeting their more advanced ECM needs such as compliancy, records management, case management, and business process management in the other solutions. To support this growing demand we are happy to announce the following new service offering.

 

SharePoint Integration Services (SIS)

 

Microsoft SharePoint has seen wide scale adaptation by organizations across the globe.  Allowing users to find, collaborate, and act on critical business information. Supporting knowledge workers who need basic ECM to support their business requirements, SharePoint provides a familiar interface and framework which promotes common ECM functionality such as check-in, check-out, versioning and similar ECM operations which are readily available out-of-the-box.

SharePoint’s success notwithstanding, different tools are often needed for different jobs. There is no one solution for all problems. This maxim applies to other Enterprise Content Management solutions as well. The benefits of collaborating in SharePoint are well known, but it is not always the tool of choice for more advanced ECM problems. Records Management, ECM, Digital Asset Management, Business Process Management, Case Management and Adaptive Case Management can all require additional solutions. In addition enterprises often have existing legacy tools fulfilling certain ECM needs. With solutions such as Documentum, OpenText, FileNet or ISIS Papyrus in place to meet more advanced ECM problems.

When different tools are need for different jobs a bridge is needed to connect the collaborative environment of SharePoint to another solution that will meet the additional ECM requirements.  Informed Consulting is able to bride this gap with our SIS methodology and services, allowing organizations to utilize the best tools, for any given ECM problem.

A few solutions where SIS can bridge the gap are:

  • Documentum
  • ISIS Papyrus
  • Opentext
  • IBM Content Manager
  • FileNet
  • Perceptive Software ECM Products
  • PeopleSoft
  • SOA and ….

 

As I mentioned above Q4 is going to be a busy period as we ramp up for several events.

 

Momentum Europe, Berlin

 

EMC’s Momentum is always interesting as we get the opportunity to visit dozens sessions, demos and tracks as we learn about the latest trends within Enterprise Content Management and Documentum’s approach and solutions. Better yet we get a chance to catch up with all of our colleagues in the Documentum area. If you’re going to Berlin drop us a line and we would love to connect and catch up.

 

Sponsoring the 3rd annual SharePoint Connections Congress

 

This November, as Microsoft launches their latest product updates, the 3rd SharePoint Connections conference will take place at ”de Meervaart” in Amsterdam. This is set to be a very exciting event and critical for all who use SharePoint, to keep up to date with the latest developments. We are happy to be able to sponsor SharePoint Connections for the first time. So please come out and see us at our booth where we will integrate SharePoint with other ECM solution, and bring together the different worlds of content.

 

Calling all Young Professionals

 

In December we will be making the final preparations for our next Young Processionals Academy which starts in January. The first steps in a young processionals’ career is often the most important as they lay down the foundation which will be used to build a successful career. The opportunity to join a company which supports and encourages the building of a strong foundation offers a rare chance at success.  Because we understand the importance of these first steps we are looking to build young professionals who are able to grow into Enterprise Content Management (ECM) consultants.

The Young Processionals Academy is focused on providing the building blocks to allow you to become ECM proven professional and consultant. Our academy offers a two month program where our young professionals touch all aspects needed to be successful as an ECM consultant. Our academy is split between theory and hands on projects allowing our young professionals to polish both their technical and soft skills.

A few of the topics they will be in contact with are:

  • Introduction into Enterprise Content Management
  • Project planning (Prince 2, …)
  • JAVA
  • .NET
  • Documentum
  • SharePoint
  • ITIL
  • Social Media
  • SEO

After successful completion of the ECM academy they will work with our senior developers to continue to develop their skills as ECM consultants.  As part of the Informed Consulting they will be responsible for the creation of technical design, development, testing, deployment and maintenance of SharePoint and Documentum solutions for our enterprise customers.

 

The world of ECM

 

Help! My users are spreading content everywhere. It‘s great we’re innovating, but I have no control, and there is an audit coming, what do I do? This common worry is touching almost every enterprise today. With devices, the cloud, and social tools, creating and driving innovation while at the same time creating risk as enterprises struggle to capture and manage the results of this collaboration. The greatest idea has little value if those who could benefit are unable to find it.

Much of SharePoint success has been driven not so much by the enterprise, but by the void left by having no ready means of collaborating within the existing ECM solutions. The very ECM tools which sought to answer the question of how to find the results on collaboration within organizations.

Is your organization struggling with the above? If so, we have the answer.

Timm Scalf

Director

 

 

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