Q3 Summary from a SharePoint of View

By Michael Alsup posted 10-11-2015 14:54


This post summarizes several market developments in the SharePoint, Office 365, and ECM ecosystems over the last quarter from the perspective of a conference itinerant and observer of all things ECM and RM, especially from a SharePoint perspective.  I was fortunate to attend a variety of events recently, including the ARMA Conference, ILTA and InfoGovCon.  Finally, I summarize events of the quarter into a few big themes. 

ARMA Conference – National Harbor (October)

ARMA 2015 took place at the Gaylord Hotel in National Harbor, a beautiful and nearly perfect facility for this event.  ARMA 2015 was narrowly focused on records management, and I observed fewer legal and IT-focused attendees than in years past.  ARMA is a community event, and the community is records managers flocking from around the world.  Generally, I think they left very satisfied. 

There was a bigger Exhibit Hall floor this year, with most of the usual vendors, and very large aisles flowing in two directions.  This is the second time that ARMA has been to the Gaylord Hotel, and National Harbor has really grown up as a Spring/Fall conference facility.  The Office 365 sessions were packed.  Ironically, because of the intense interest we are seeing from large organizations moving to Office 365 and Azure, we got our best leads ever from an ARMA conference

IGI and InfoGovCon – Hartford, CN (September)

There is a high level of corporate interest in Governance.  Barclay Blair, Bennett Borden and Jason Baron have drawn significant corporate attention to the Information Governance Initiative (IGI).  IGI is a group that is wrestling with best locus in organizations for Governance, broadly defined.  Is it IT, Finance, Legal, the business or the C Suite?  This attracts participants who are looking to discuss these issues with their peers.  There was a very, very senior group of people at Information Governance Conference (InfoGovCon). 

InfoGovCon merged this year with IGI.  They had their conference in Hartford, CT, which was an odd and out of the way place for it, but Hartford has a fine conference facility, and the city bus service was terrific.  IGI did a very nice job building on the InfoGovCon foundation laid by Nick Inglis and Jim Merrifield of Optismo in 2014.  There was a high level of interest at InfoGovCon in Office 365 and migration from a variety of platforms.  Several of the largest companies in the world indicated to me at InfoGovCon that they are migrating to Office 365 and Azure. 

International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) – Las Vegas (September)

For the first time, I attended ILTA in Las Vegas.  ILTA (www.iltanet.org) is the annual event for law firm technology and is attended by the people responsible for technology in law firms, corporate legal departments, and the vendors who participate in these markets.  I found it to be very interesting and well attended.  Primarily, I attended because Microsoft was their showcasing their new Office 365 Matter Center solution, which drew significant interest. 

Microsoft Matter Center is an Office 365 Add-In that enables lawyers and paralegals to do most of their work from inside their familiar productivity tools, Outlook and Word.  (Seriously, what user wouldn’t prefer that approach?)  It was built for the Microsoft Legal Department, Legal and Corporate Affairs (LCA), to enable them to work productively both internally and with their outside law firms.  Matter Center exposes an organization’s governance and controls from inside Outlook and Word and performs most of these functions transparently.  The law firms that tried the beta of Matter Center indicated in a Conference session that they intended to get rid of their legacy document management products when the Matter Center product was proven in their organization.  Needless to say, the providers of legal add-in products, such as Workshare, Litera, Epona, and LawToolbox, and the law firm integrators, such as Perficient, Duff & Phelps, Kraft Kennedy and Olenick were searching for a way to get in on this wave of activity. 

Net Documents had the most confusing announcement at ILTA.  They were included in the Matter Center press release.  Since Net Documents is a competing platform to SharePoint, this turned heads, but it turned out that they were just moving their platform to Azure hosting and supporting the Office 365 productivity tools, Outlook and Word, in the same way that Box does.  The Net Documents people in their booth asked me the question, “Why would you store documents in Office 365 when you could use Net Documents?”  I responded, “Because most of my customers are moving to Office 365.” 

The other big wave of activity at ILTA was the relaunch of IManage.  After 14 years inside Autonomy and HP, the IManage product emerged with venture backing.  ECM industry veteran, Dan Carmel, and original IManage co-founders, including Neil Araujo and Rafiq Mohammadi, were broadcasting the message to ILTA attendees that they were going to reinvigorate the IManage platform for the benefit of their customers. 

Big Theme: Office 365 is crushing it

The biggest theme of the quarter was the huge wave of Office 365 activity.  I won’t name names, but several Fortune 20 companies indicated to me that they were moving all of their ECM to Office 365 and Azure.  There is accelerating interest in the migration away from Legacy ECM Suites to Office 365 related to security, cost, identity management, scalability, BYOD support and a variety of other reasons.  In so many conversations, this is the introduction point.  This has a variety of impacts on the ECM and RM markets. 

There is renewed interest in enterprise planning, ECM strategy, and hybrid architecture as organizations move to the cloud.  Organizations are working to figure out how best to protect identities, manage global localization issues, and ensure that they are able to scale to the demands of their customers.  This is a significant investment and commitment and organizations are not taking it lightly. 

The market for Intranet Site Provisioning tools is expanding rapidly.  Vendors like Blue Rooster, Brightstarr, Gimmal, and RightPoint have demonstrated the ability to rapidly provision consistent and governable sites.  Governance and records management is frequently a transparent component of this site provisioning.  Similarly, portal and intranet tools are emerging that make it transparent to the users whether a site is in Office 365 or on-premises with a legacy SharePoint version, like 2013, so robust hybrid solutions are more easily enabled.  The complexity of Matter Center configuration and scripting demonstrates why automated site provisioning is so important.

In my 35 year experience in the ECM industry, I have observed that the best opportunities for conferences come when technologies reach a tipping point and companies are thirsting for “how to” knowledge.  This year, these companies were in the initial stages of their Office 365 and Azure journey.  My bet is that this will be true for several more years and the conferences that provide practical knowledge to thirsting participants will thrive. 

Other Important Themes

The Amazon Web Services (AWS) - Alfresco Aurora announcement was very interesting.  Alfresco announced that they were supporting the AWS Aurora MySQL-like database.  This means that Alfresco solutions can be hosted entirely in AWS.  The three dominant cloud providers, AWS, Microsoft and Google, are pulling away from their competitors in terms of cloud scale.  The Net Documents announcement should be viewed in this light.  It was all about Azure, not Matter Center.

The new Microsoft phones that were announced this week run Windows 10.  With a wireless keyboard and wireless monitor, they are a PC that can access your Office 365 subscription and OneDrive from anywhere.  I have had a laptop in my briefcase for 25 years so that I can continue working and communicating from hotels.  My use of productivity applications doesn’t require much of the capacity of my laptop, so a Microsoft phone now has the capacity to replace my laptop when I travel if I can depend on hotels and conference facilities to be equipped with keyboards and monitors, which could be modern high resolution TV’s.  I am trying to wrap my head around what this means for traveling, hotels and information management. But, I will be watching the developments on my trusty iPhone 6 at least until my wireless plan is up for renewal.  

Change is the only constant.