I went up skiing a couple of weeks back. The snow made for a brutal drive but not for the reasons you might think. I am from Colorado, the snow was the easy part. I just had never been skiing in California before and I learned two things. First there is only one puny road to South Lake Tahoe and second, about a billion people try to drive up there for the weekend. Needless to say, I had lots of time to think about snow. You probably know the old story that while snowflakes all look the same from a distance, in reality, no two are exactly alike. To me, selling enterprise software is a lot like selling snowflakes, as it seems that every installation is different.
Enterprise Content Management is going through an interesting evolution. As the market originated, the focus was squarely on solving the problem described by the term itself – managing content. ECM technology was valued and a necessary component across many applications and solutions. Like databases, ECM technology was deployed across a myriad of applications.
Effectively we have been “selling snowflakes” so far with ECM. Essentially, we have been building customized applications for each individual customer. This is evident in the ECM market overall as, for every dollar in software license revenues, a typical consumer will spend between $5-6 on services for customization and integration. Fortunately for our business and our customers’, we are working to dramatically reduce that ratio.
While it is true that custom technology implementations serve unique purposes, over time, many application requirements become much more consistent. CRM and ERP systems are good examples of transactional applications that have become far more standardized over the past decade. This has reduced costs and improved productivity and, in most cases, even delivered greater functionality.
Too much customization can constrain both the use of a technology as well as inhibit many productivity improvements that are possible by leveraging the technology. This is why you will see us develop, partner, build and sell more complete content-enabled applications for specific functions (like Accounts Payable) as well as combine our technology components together to form what we call Solution Frameworks. These frameworks become the new application development platform where building applications is mostly simple customization.
We will never seek to eliminate the capability to build customize applications as there can be great value when it is done for the right reasons but we do seek to bring a whole new set of Applications to market at completely new price points that we believe will change the market as we know it.