During the recent AIIM conference, I was one of many folks tweeting, and tracking others' tweets, using the #aiim10 hashtag. One of the posts that surfaced was a guest post (http://www.fiercecontentmanagement.com/story/box-net-ceo-thoughts-newbie-aiim-2010/2010-04-27) to the Fierce Content Management blog from the CEO of Box.net, Aaron Levie.
Two of the points he made really rang true for me. First, he argued that "vendors need to go beyond the next upgrade." He noted that there is a real benefit to rolling out upgrades as they are made available, rather than waiting for an every-6-months or every-year upgrade. Now the immediate argument from the vendor community is that those upgrades are often good for a chunk of revenue, or underscore the value of vendor maintenance agreements, or both.
But I also know that recurring subscription revenue is often considered the "holy grail" for vendors because it's guaranteed revenue that doesn't have to be resold again each time. And that's precisely what the cloud provides: a subscription model where a customer made is often a customer kept, if for no other reason than through organizational inertia.
There's a related point that Levie doesn't make but that I can and will: the upgrade model is incredibly difficult to test and make stable enough for release. This is true for all software, and the more complex and powerful the software, the more difficult it becomes. Introducing features incrementally allows vendors to introduce them more quickly to take advantage of opportunities while making them less likely to destabilize the existing code. The other point that jumped out at me is a far more powerful one. Levie asks, "...there were quite a few iPads floating around the AIIM Expo, but how many ECM vendors had an app?" I checked, and as of Friday, April 30, there was precisely one ECM-ish app in the Apple App Store. It comes from Open Text and is their Social Media Mobile app. The app appears to tie into their forays into Web 2.0, but it wasn't immediately clear whether or how it would access an Open Text repository.
But I'm thinking that that's one of the iPad "killer apps" almost by definition. Think medical records, or insurance claims processors, or any of a number of other processes that require mobile access to information. For some of these, the iPhone is used but is certainly not ideal because of the small screen. Put an ECM app on an iPad and put the entire contents of the repository at the user's fingertips - onsite, on a plane (with suitable offline downloading & synching capabilities), or wherever access would be helpful.
One of the significant reasons why the iPhone redefined the smart phone market was its ease of use - the thing "just worked" without requiring users to navigate fantastically complex menus or interfaces. An ECM app that had those qualities would be incredibly valuable to the end users who rely on ECM suites; when combined with the interoperability promised by CMIS, I think there is a substantial opportunity to radically change the way in which organizations interact with their information.#OpenText #ElectronicRecordsManagement #ECM #web2.0 #Box.net #AaronLevie #cloud #iPad