2015-3-february-what's-going-on.jpg

Shock and awe can be a good thing, especially if you’re introducing a change that’s long been desired. That’s why EMC’s Information Intelligence Group (IIG), which holds Documentum, Captiva, Syncplicity, among other product lines, waited until its annual partner pep rally last week to announce that it was changing its name to Enterprise Content Division — ECD is its acronym.

“We wanted to create some excitement around it,” said Rohit Ghai, EMC ECD’s new president. He knew that almost no one showed affinity for the old name, Information Intelligence Group (IIG) as it has been called for too many years.

“No one knew what that meant,” an EMC partner who asked not to be identified told us.

And while that kind of feedback matters a great deal to Ghai, there were three primary drivers behind the renaming: legitimacy, heritage and evolution.

It’s About Legitimacy, Not the Emperor’s New Clothes

2015-3-february-Rohit-Ghai.jpg

“We wanted our nomenclature to be consistent with the rest of EMC,” Ghai explained. So if you consider that EMC holds an RSA Security division, an Information Infrastructure division and so on, then having another entity referred to as “group” could imply that it’s not on equal footing.

While calling something a division rather than a group doesn’t, in and of itself, necessarily change anyone’s perception it could go a long way in starting the conversation in the right place.

A Heritage of Content

When it comes to heritage, the term “content” makes it easy to see how ECD connects to EMC’s other divisions. After all, with EMC holding both an Information Infrastructure division and an Information Intelligence division, the acronyms were almost, literally, the same. Not just that, but ECD actually is about content whether we’re talking documents, digital assets, video … you name it.

Beyond Content Management

And while EMC’s purchase of Documentum in 2003 was about acquiring its content management capabilities, “We’re not just about content management anymore,” said Ghai. “We’re also a solutions provider." Under outgoing president Rick Devenuti’s leadership, IIG introduced offerings for oil and gas, life sciences, quality and manufacturing, asset operations, as well as managed services, among others.

There’s also InfoArchive to consider. It’s the bridge and the enabler that will help enterprises move to the 3rd platform. “CIOs grapple with rationalizing the returns of moving to the cloud and the costs of keeping information that is no longer being used by enterprise applications on hand,” said Ghai, noting that the latter must often be retained and easily accessible for regulatory reasons. InfoArchive solves that problem by taking the costs out of keeping that kind of information on hand and within applications.

Then, of course, there’s EMC Syncplicity, ECD’s file sync and share solution which enterprises are embracing for collaboration and file sharing whether it’s in the cloud, on premise or hybrid.

A Leadership Change No One Called For?

“I have big shoes to fill,” said Ghai, referring to replacing Devenuti as the president of IIG. But this particular transition didn’t come as a surprise. Devenuti told us that it had been in the planning since last year when he promoted Ghai to chief operating officer.

“It (the transition) was well thought out and well managed,” said the incoming boss, “we worked shoulder to shoulder. I was the product guy. Rick led the business vision.”

And we shouldn’t expect any radical changes going forward, said Ghai.

So What's the Strategy?

Ghai and the rest of ECD’s management team hear the call of the 3rd platform loud and clear. Joe Tucci, who captains the EMC mother ship, rarely makes a public appearance in which he fails to utter the words big data or call cloud “the most disruptive tech wave, ever."

That being said, not everyone is ready, willing and able to head to the heavens right away. Never mind that some enterprises in regulated industries question if they’ll ever go “all cloud."

Many of those companies use Documentum as their content repository and their lawyers, compliance managers and other powers-that-be say no to the cloud without leaving room for maybe. When you consider that they’re responsible for the engineering documents of nuclear power plants, it’s hard to disagree, regardless of how pro-cloud we may be.

For industries and companies who need or want to stay grounded, ECD offers a solution between the 2nd and 3rd platforms. EMC manages the infrastructure and the services including innovative, friendly and consumer-like interfaces for use both on premise and via mobile devices, leaving its customers with time to spend on more value producing activities like running their businesses. “It’s a win/win,” said Ghai.

When it comes to cloud, Syncplicity was born there, though it's built on on-prem and hybrid capabilities as well.

InfoArchive is an enabler for the transition between on premises and Cloud. Not only that, but 3rd platform visionary Paul Maritz, who runs EMC spawn Pivotal, announced that he was interested in creating synergies with it at EMC World last year, so it’s safe to say that ECD will get there just ahead of its customers.

Pressure, Under Pressure?

We’ve certainly heard a whole host of rumors about EMC CEO Joe Tucci pressuring ECD (IIG) leaders to grow its business as rapidly as its EMC siblings. But what CEO would say, “take your time”? Still, we couldn’t help but ask Ghai if his bosses are giving him less breathing room, given Elliott Management’s demands that EMC generate greater returns for its investors and the “muted outlook” for the company as a whole.

“We think long term,” said Ghai, explaining that it’s not just about driving revenue, but also sustainability and profitability. And we’re not talking about revenues that are realized as soon as there’s a sale. After all, in managed services or cloud models, customers pay “by the drip” as Ghai puts it.

That being said, it seems that there is a mandate to meet and that it’s not keeping Ghai from sleeping. He points to last quarter’s results where though the top line may not be as big as it was last year, IIG’s profitability actually rose.

EMC ECD is on the right track, there’s no question in Ghai’s mind. He seems confident that the EMC division he now leads will continue its reign as we move toward an increasingly digital age. 

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by mripp.