Archive for the ‘ Content Management ’ Category

Bruce Firestone Interview’s Openera CEO Peter Lalonde

How Aaron Levie and Box will crush SharePoint

Meet Aaron Levie. He’s 25 years old and running one of the un-coolest, cool companies in the valley. He is CEO of Box, the cloud content management company, and he is not shy about wanting to take out SharePoint. After meeting Aaron in San Francisco at Boxworks, the company’s first user conference, I encourage you to watch this company. If you know anything about Enterprise software, you know it’s in the midst of a big disruption. Companies like Salesforce.com have lead the way for Box and other disruptive enterprise software. (Full disclosure, Openera is a Box partner. SmartCloud automatically saves email attachments to many cloud services, including Box and Salesforce.com.)

Why Box? Why Now? SharePoint represents everything that Box is not. Complicated, restrictive, expensive to manage, difficult to upgrade and mostly despised by users. Calling SharePoint customers “users” is not accurate because SharePoint has an adoption problem. Customers don’t actually use SharePoint. It’s imposed upon them. It’s available to search for mostly stale content…  if the content has actually been put in SharePoint, you will find something. If not, you are out of luck amigo. (This is the problem Openera helps Box with – make sure your company’s most important, relevant content is actually IN box, not in your inbox. That’s a mouthful.) 

How pervasive is the problem that Box is addressing? It presented itself at Dreamforce, Salesforce.com’s annual user conference, which one might expect. Content Management is still a big problem within the Salesforce ecosystem.  Salesforce’s own content management is one of Salesforce.com’s least adopted offerings. Box can and will play a big part in this world. Unlike the most well-known cloud content management service, Dropbox, Box has a higher level of security, more administrative controls, a developing partner ecosystem and enterprise features that adress both IT and user needs. Dropbox implementations are often rogue and not sanctioned by IT.

Box understands enterprise customers.  I didn’t expect the issue of cloud content management to be addressed by the mobile industry while attending GigaOm’s Mobilize conference the day before Boxworks, but it was. One of the speakers asked the audience to “raise your hand if you use Dropbox at work.” Almost all hands in the auditorium went up. When asked “How many of your IT departments know about it?” I saw two or three hands go up. That was good news for Box. Why? Because Box understands the Enterprise. They aren’t trying to circumvent IT, they are making IT super heroes.

Box understands the importance of a strong partner ecosystem. There were glimmers of brilliance in the delivery of announcements at Boxworks. Aaron and his team announced several key new features that are important to make Box an attractive alternative to SharePoint. BoxSync, Security, and Social Features. But it was the litany of partner announcements that showed us where Box is going. Each partner paraded on stage brought a critical element to the box solution.

The big integration announcement was with Salesforce.com‘s Chatter, but Jive and Yammer were there to show off their collaboration platforms and how they seamlessly integrate with Box as well.  Okta rocked the audience to spontaneous applause simply talking about their solution to a huge problem for companies and users of cloud services – single sign on! But it may have been the announcements with Motorola and HP that could make the biggest impact on Box adoption in the enterprise. Box will be pre-installed on all HP Business PC’s and all Motorola tablets. Next year at Boxworks, we at Openera hope to elicit spontaneous applause from the audience when we announce how we have solved the problem of getting your companies most valuable content out of your inbox and into Box… without changing user behaviour.

Microsoft, Oracle, SAP… they aren’t going anywhere, but the clock is ticking.

Among the speakers at Boxworks, it was Geoffrey Moore and Mark Andreessen that perhaps added the most poignent arguments for Box’s bright future. Both, in their own way, articulated how the dominant players in the market, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and others aren’t going anywhere, but their time of dominance is over.

The rise of the nimble, strategic and forward thinking IT department is upon us. Companies like Box will accelerate growth because IT must be more responsive to business needs. Users demand the same user experience they have with facebook, LinkedIn, Google and other cloud tools they have become to rely on. The incumbent players simply cannot compete and move fast enough given the complexity and deep roots within organizations.  Again, this is good news for Box and maybe the reason Aaron is so vocal about taking on SharePoint.

“How many of your companies are running SharePoint 2007?….. pause… now, how many of you are running an outdated version of Box? Trick question. You get my point.” -Aaron Levie, CEO Box at Boxworks 2011, San Francisco

Do you think Box can win in a head-to-head battle against Microsoft? Even though Openera and SmartCloud are agnostic and work with all cloud services, we are rooting for Aaron and his team to deliver a great user experience to the enterprise. It’s about time.

Email is not content management!

According to an infographic CCLoop published, sourcing information from Mashable, “The Social Break-Up” by ExactTarget, and Neilsen Research (to name a few) an estimated 2.8 Million emails are sent every second. That’s 90 Trillion emails each year, and email usage continues to grow in both Consumer and Business markets.


Infographic by: ccLoop

It also cites “Attachment Chaos” as first of the Top Four Email Annoyances, and I bet your inbox contains more content than it should. I bet there are files, reports, presentations and other critical documents that aren’t being formally managed (even if you are required to do so). I bet you don’t save attachments as they come in, and spend … no – WASTE your valuable time searching for attachments when you need them.

I say this with confidence, because last month Openera issued a poll asking “How do you Manage your Attachments?”. While it came as no surprise to us, almost 65% of those polled indicated they search for attachments later when they need them.

There is a lot of noise in your inbox, which can result in lost attachments, missed opportunities and other headaches. To be on top of your game, you need to properly manage all of your documents and be able to access them on the spot. So why is it we keep using our inbox as a content management system?

Are we too lazy to save attachments as they come in? Maybe. It’s more probable that we’re too busy to be spending too much time worrying about saving stuff where it’s supposed to go, when we think we can just look for it later when we need it.

Sure, there are a number of ways you can “manage” your content in your inbox(es): Creating and managing multiple folders, setting up custom search filters, or  being incredibly diligent in saving each and every attachment as you see it. No matter how you slice it though, each is very manual and time consuming.

Isn’t technology supposed to make your life easier? When it comes to your inbox, or inboxes, don’t you wish your stuff could just go where you want it to?

Exactly.

We know how frustrating it can be to keep track of all of your attachments across multiple inboxes. We also know how annoying (and unnecessary) it is when someone says “we have a solution for that – but you have to completely change the way you work in order to use it”. This is why SmartCloud automatically tags and saves your important attachments precisely where you want them to go … without changing the way you work.

How are YOU managing your email attachments today? Leave us a comment, let us know what tactics or services you’re using to keep your inbox clean, and attachments organized.

And of course, you can Go Here to learn more about SmartCloud

Searching the web is easy, finding your own stuff is hard.

Google makes it easy to find stuff online. Where do you go to find your own stuff? Likely you have to search your laptop, any usb drives you may, or may not have connected at the exact time you are looking for the stuff, you also might need to search your on-line storage (cloud storage like Dropbox, box.net, mozy, idrive or google docs…among many, many others.) But wait! Did you forget to check your smart phone? What about your tablet?

With an ever increasing number of devices and services to store and access content, how can you keep track of all your own stuff? This is one of the primary problems we want to solve with SmartCloud. All your stuff, where you want and need it. Quickly search across all your cloud services for relevant content. Automatically manage your content by stripping all your messages and saving the files to where they need to go. Automatically tag all your content based on the information contained in the exchange. Make sure you have access to all your content on your mobile device. Make the mobile experience simple and useful.

Our goal is to give you control over your own content, when and where you want it.

People are the problem!

Why do fresh & shiny new systems fail? People. People suck! They don’t do what you want them to. They don’t follow instructions or read manuals. They can’t follow simple processes because they say they are “too busy ” well, get over it. Seriously. Please get over it. It’s time to admit you have a problem and that problem is people.

So, what are you going to do about it? For starters, why not try to accept that people aren’t going to change. Maybe the problem is you! How would you change the system to accommodate the way people actually work?

Design Matters. Seriously.

Design matters. You may have the best product, technology or service but if the packaging sucks, it’s a reflection on the product, technology or service. and you. By packaging I don’t mean the physical packaging, although if you sell a product that is going to be on a shelf or shipped, consider the packaging very carefully.
twlevesouth packaging

Twelve South Bass Jump Packaging

Packaging is not just an expense line item that can be marginalized and reduced to the lowest cost alternative…like plastic clamshell packages* – if you ship a product in plastic clamshell packaging, you are evil. Maybe you aren’t evil, but you are causing endless frustration to your customers at a time when they should be excited to have your product in hand and relish the “un-boxing”**

When you are selling something to someone, the design matters. Regardless of who you are selling to.
“….uh, Pete, you must be mad! Engineers and accountants don’t care about design of the packaging or pretty logos.”
You might be right person reading this blog, but ask a CTO if they care about the design of your architecture, ask a CFO if well designed revenue models are important. The importance of design is not limited to the marketing department and must be considered throughout your organization. That is true of services business as well. If you run a consulting firm, methodology is designed. It’s even branded (six sigma). Certifications are a part of the design of your business as well.
How well is your funnel designed?

Have your designed your sales funnel? or has it defined the way you do business?

This brings me to designing for revenue. Everything from your brand, messaging, sales team, methodologies and everything else related to how customers become customers, needs to be designed. As in a good architecture, design starts with purpose. What is the purpose of what you are trying to design? In the case of a revenue model or sales and marketing machine, that purpose better be revenue, customers or market share. Before you venture and migrate current processes to the cloud…consider the opportunity presented for a re-design.

Just as good graphic designers know how to mix various design elements to be effective, you should consider how you design your revenue model and sales engine. Some things just don’t make for good design. Investing heavily in search engine optimization before your website is effective. Hiring sales reps before you know your go-to-market strategy and can provide valid leads. Training reps before you know your sales cycle, process or methodology. Hopefully you won’t make these surprisingly common mistakes. It’s a mark of bad design.
I’m always interested in talking to people about how they view the importance of design in their business. More often than not all the pieces of the sales, marketing and business development plans don’t come together under a well executed design. -Peter
Larry David - Curb your Enthusiasm

Larry attempts to open a vacuum sealed 'clamshell' package.

* evil, lazy and environmentally irresponsible packaging that 90% of the time frustrates the customer and in some cases harms them. I have literally cut myself opening a plastic clamshell package. Larry David had a whole bit dedicated to plastic clamshell packaging on Curb Your Enthusiasm

**very strange social phenomenon that says a lot about our society. thousands of people actually post videos of themselves ‘un-boxing’ recent purchases as if it is a religious experience. I haven’t figured out why, to be honest, I haven’t tried. If you are sell a product that is heavily featured in ‘unboxing’ videos, then congratulations. You have created a product that people feel passionately about. Here’s an Apple iPad unboxing video if you have no idea what I am talking about.

Why can’t your stuff just go where it’s suposed to go?

Have you ever found it difficult to find a document someone sent you a while ago? Maybe it was important, you cant remember where you filed it. You can search your computer, your usb drives, your online storage provider, even your mobile phone. Tags make it easier and there are always some plug-ins that promise to make it easier. None of them work very well.

Why can’t your stuff just go where it should be? I use Box.net as my content management system for Openera. My wife and I use Dropbox for my personal stuff. Why can’t the files my co-workers send me go where I store my work stuff and my personal files go where my personal stuff goes?

That is the question I have asked myself lately in the hopes of answering another vexing problem facing just about all content management systems: user adoption. The number 1 reason new IT initiatives fail is lack of user adoption. This is true of just about any new application but amplified for any system that relies on user input (content in the form of data, documents, videos, photos…etc.) like content management (CMS) and customer relationship management systems. (CRM) The systems are only valuable if users contribute, if they don’t the system falls prey to diminishing returns.  The less people contribute, the less people trust the relevance of the content.

To take this question to the next level I began thinking about the reasons these systems fail when adoption fails. It comes down to the way people work. Google is a success because people trust that they can quickly and easily search and find relevant content online. Outside of the SEO world, people don’t really think about putting content “into Google.” Results end up “in Google” by the nature of what people do online, without having to do anything different. Just by writing a blog entry, updating facebook, tweeting a review of a great restaurant, posting pictures to Flickr or videos to YouTube, value is added to Google searches. The same is not true of traditional ECM (Open Text, Documentum, Vignette…) or CRM solutions. ( Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle OnDemand, Siebel) Users are asked to change their behaviour. They have to check-in a document, save files to specific locations, or bcc: catch-all email inboxes.

I’ve been a part of the structured and unstructured content management world since 1991. Back then we called it document management, some records management, email management, even knowledge management. The number one challenge was always the same.

User adoption. We always asked users to change the way they worked. We had a killer solution for document management at Interleaf, Open Text, Documentum, Hummingbird and others. But, we asked users to do something different. Don’t email files back and forth. Don’t save documents to shared drives. Check your documents into a document management system and send someone a link to the document. That way we can track who accesses the documents and can provide an audit trail. (Don’t we all love being audited?) It sounded like a great idea, from a technology standpoint it made perfect sense. Less content travelling across the networks led to the better use of bandwidth and resources. Sending links to files instead of the files themselves meant that we could collaborate on the same version of a file. There were so many benefits, why didn’t people just change the way they worked so they could realize all these benefits? I wish I was kidding when I recall my co-workers talking about how stupid people are that email files back and forth and not using our brilliant solution. Well, people aren’t stupid, the technology was great, but it didn’t address user behaviour in the design of the solution.

In short, the preceding challenge is what what I want to focus on as we embark on the development of our solution to this problem. A problem that shouldn’t exist. A problem that should have been solved a decade ago. If computers are so darn smart, why don’t they put my stuff where it’s supposed to go?