Firas Raouf, CEO of Everteam
Everteam's board of directors appointed Firas Raouf CEO to help the company break into the US ECM market

When Lyon, France-based Everteam bought Palo Alto, Calif.-based Intalio in October 2015, the deal was notable for two reasons.

For starters, a European company snatching up a Silicon Valley player in the business process management (BPM) market ran counter to the usual trend of US tech giants gobbling up innovative players on the other side of the pond. 

Even more interesting, the Intalio buy positioned Everteam to add a pure-play BPM to its enterprise content management (ECM) portfolio, paving the way for Everteam to do what many ECM vendors have not — tie ECM to BPM to create integrated solutions. 

Everteam’s Management Team Evolves

With the Intalio acquisition, Everteam also reconfigured its leadership team. A few weeks after the deal closed, Everteam appointed Firas Raouf as CEO, while Everteam founder and former CEO, Béchara Wakim took over as executive chairman of Everteam’s board of directors. 

As a longtime tech veteran with extensive experience in both software operations and venture capital, Raouf came to Everteam from Newton, Mass.-based [N]squared Advisory, a consultancy he founded to help international software companies establish operations in the United States. 

Putting Everteam on the Radar 

Raouf’s efforts to put Everteam on the radar have been somewhat slow to bear fruit. Although Everteam has opened a Boston office and attracted a great deal of favorable attention from analysts like Gartner and Forrester, achieving widespread US market visibility remains an ongoing challenge. 

The gap between analyst praise and widespread market adoption is highlighted in the differing comments between the ECM and Business Services Waves.

Forrester rated Everteam a ‘Strong Performer’ in both business content services and transactional content in its latest enterprise content management Waves, with the Transactional Wave noting that, “A strong commitment to research and development is evident, with customers solving complex content management challenges in markets such as government, defense, media, insurance and energy. Strong capture and analytics capabilities for print stream, COLD, or enterprise report management tools are [also] a differentiator.” 

This is high praise in a segment that also features vendors like Alfresco, HPE, Laserfiche, M-Files, SER Group and Upland.

Yet, the Business Services Wave notes that, “Everteam innovates with analytics but struggles for recognition beyond Europe. Everteam has been quietly executing on its strategy to weave analytics into business content services resulting in a deep integration today.”

Peeling Back the Information Governance Layers

Everteam’s strategy to expand its US-market presence in 2017 is poised to make impressive inroads if Raouf has anything to do with it. In an interview with CMSWire, he amplified on his strategy to penetrate the US market, by offering integrated, mid-market solutions to support information governance and data security efforts. 

Roe: What have you been doing since the Intalio buy?

Raouf: Last year was all about figuring out product/market fit for Everteam in the US. In January 2016, we ended up closing a huge deal with Saint-Gobain, a global producer of a variety of construction and high-performance materials and one of the world's 100 largest corporations.

I’ve always thought of our portfolio as a massive box of Legos, which [lets us] put together all kinds of solutions but [that particular initiative] really opened my eyes to the breadth and depth of Everteam’s technology potential.

We started thinking about records management, and as we peeled the onion, we realized that a big issue in the US has been the inability to get content and data under control. That realization then led us to expand our scope further to information governance.

Roe: What approach has Everteam taken in developing its information governance solutions? 

Raouf: As opposed to going in with a platform, we’ve put together an application layer offering that brings together what I call the four legs of the stool:

  1. Discovery: Discover content and data, both structured and unstructured, and understand it.
  2. Analytics: We have a very strong analysis engine with natural language processing that allows us to classify the content.
  3. Migration: For us, migration means not only moving the data, but cleaning it up.
  4. Management: Once you have the data where you want it, the challenge is to manage it long-term. 

Roe: How is Everteam unique in doing that?

Raouf: We put together an 80-percent-out-of-the-box solution that is hosted as a cloud offering, and that gives businesses and IT departments the flexibility to decide where they want to start.

Let’s take some typical use cases. Say, for example, that there is a problem with an application that [the customer] needs to decommission because the application is being used purely for storage. Or another one might be where a company has made an acquisition and suddenly it is flooded with lots of data and doesn’t know what it has, where it is or what to do with it.

In short, a company might have a compliance issue, an archiving issue — or both. We combine the whole discovery, analytics and archive management process into one single solution.

Roe: Who are you targeting?

Raouf: We are targeting departments of large to very large companies with a mid-market delivery and pricing strategy.

Roe: How do analytics factor into your solutions? 

Raouf: We must very careful about analytics. Analytics, as seen in demos, are impressive. It’s easy to say ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ but the challenge of analytics is how to make them actually useful, and that is where we are really focusing a lot of our attention.

Running a bunch of reports on the content you have is an easy thing to do. You take some established metadata, run an advanced search on it, and you get a report that tells you have X number of documents that have the metadata you inputted.

The bigger problem though, is what is actually in those documents that may not be contained in the metadata you are using.

The other problem is that there is a lot of data — structured and unstructured — that needs to be associated with that content. Associating unstructured data with unstructured content is the really hard part, and that’s what we specialize in.

Roe: Let’s say you’ve found the content. What do you do then?

Raouf: Ultimately, the challenge in our industry is how you make that content useful. The way we try to do that is by coming back to governance and data security. We see two ways of approaching this:

The first is a security approach. [The enterprise] needs to reduce the attack surface in its firewalls. Organizations typically have a lot of data, but they don’t know where it is. We work with them find it and get it under control.

Then, there is the records management point of view. Here [at Everteam,] we go back to our roots to help companies to create records that could be combinations of structured and unstructured data. Again, it’s combing that data and content in meaningful ways.

Roe: You’re targeting the mid-market. What about enterprises?

Raouf: You’re right, but to clarify, mid-market doesn’t just mean midsized companies. We could also be talking about a billion-dollar company that doesn’t think it’s big enough to afford a proprietary implementation.

Or we could also be talking about a business unit or division. In cases like those, rather than trying to deploy enterprise-wide, we think the best strategy is to land and expand because the days of doing massive top-down projects are behind us.

Roe: What about big proprietary systems?

Raouf: The days of buying the big platforms or using professional services to build professional solutions for customers are gone. That’s why we think ECM is withering on the vine. From our standpoint, ECM is basically a dead value proposition.

Roe: Have you seen evidence of that?

Raouf: In Europe at least, markets there are still, to some extent, living in an ECM world. But even in France, for example, our primary ECM business is case management, which is a more focused implementation of ECM.

Roe: How do you see your marketing challenges?

Raouf: It’s a problem of scale. We have thousands of customers all over the world, but we are not a very big company.

Historically, our team hasn’t invested in the US market, and we know we can’t just move into the US overnight. We have to take the time to know it well enough, so that’s why we spent the majority of 2016 figuring out exactly where we want to focus.

Now, having made the decision that our focus will be all-around information governance, we recognize that we must also invest time in packaging our solution to go after that market.

As we see it, 2016 was the year of marketing and now 2017 is the year of sales. Watch what happens this year.