Once upon a time ago, Enterprise Content Management Systems (ECM) solutions were groovy. They seemed to be the key that opened the door to the land of opportunity. 

They were going to help companies bring drugs to market faster; assist traders on Wall Street in assembling pitchbooks quicker; help insurance companies handle document workflows and lifecycles more efficiently and with greater accuracy; electronically index information for dictionaries and search engines; enable aircraft manufacturers to selectively publish massive training manuals … some even thought they might facilitate finding a cure for cancer …

This was the dream. And, in some cases, that dream came true. In others, it did not -- end users either failed to embrace the solutions that they paid for, or accepted what they had been handed and hated what they used.

This is not the story that vendors or IT departments typically share, but that doesn’t make it less true. My favorite illustration comes from a conversation I had with a project manager I had placed at a big pharmaceutical firm. I called her a few weeks after the system she worked on had been rolled-out and asked about the champagne and steak dinners the IT Director who owned the project had told me about.

“How’d the project go? Was it a huge success?” I asked. I expected her to thank me for getting her the job.

“It depends who you ask,” she answered. “IT says it was a big success. Delivered on time, on budget, with the functionality that was promised. But,” she added, “The business refuses to use it.”

This was the outcome after almost two years of work.


EMC Leadership Listens and Makes A Change

Even before Rick Devenuti took the top job at EMC IIG (the group that owns Documentum), he started to listen to what enterprises that used his company’s ECM solution (Documentum) had to say. It couldn’t have been music to his ears.

“IT loves us. The business tolerates us. End users hate us,” he told me a few years ago.

It couldn’t have been an easy admission to make, especially at a time when Gartner, Forrester, Ovum and the like listed you as a top performer.

But Devenuti was hell-bent on building ECM products that delighted not only IT and the analysts, but the business and end users as well.

Last November EMC IIG delivered a massive wave of new solutions to accomplish this. Among them was Documentum 7, a new cloud-ready Documentum platform; Documentum xCP 2.0, a next generation case management solution; Captiva 7.0, a reimagined Content Capture solution; the list goes on … and includes the integration of Syncplicity, a newish Enterprise-Grade Document file Sync & Share solution that provides a consumer-like experience on the Cloud.

Last week, at EMC World in Las Vegas, Devenuti unveiled a host of other noteworthy solutions including EMA (a speedy migration solution that would move Documentum customers from their current releases to the friendlier, more robust, cloud ready, Documentum 7 in a matter of days -- rather than months or weeks), an enhanced, compliant, secure private cloud for Documentum users (aka Documentum On Demand); and a host of EMC developed vertical market solutions such as EPFM (Energy, Plant and Facilities Management Suite), Clinical Trial, Quality and Manufacturing solutions for Life Sciences firms … so that companies can hit the ground running and realize ROI on short order.

Add to that, that connections to Syncplicity’s on-premises, or cloud, file-sharing and synching service handles pervasive governance … and you’ve got a whole new Documentum that the market seems to be embracing.

Here’s Proof That Documentum Has its Groove Back

Not only does EMC IIG say that Sales in the past quarter exceeded those in years past, but that more of them came from selling products versus Services, which means that there’s something other than license renewals and consulting that companies are willing to pay for.

So, in my mind, EMC Documentum is finally giving the market something it has always wanted to buy --namely “A way to transform business with software and cloud solutions that connect information to work,” which by the way is EMC Documentum’s new mission statement.

And while this is a glowing review, EMC IIG still has one thing missing; there’s no Social component in its ECM Suite. For now, the customers we’ve spoken to say that they will wait for that to happen, but for how long is anybody’s guess. EMC boss Joe Tucci should just do Devenuti and EMC IIG customers a favor, and move Socialcast over from VMWare where it is less likely to belong.