What would make the VP of Enterprise Marketing at Adobe, one of the biggest companies touting the benefits of digital marketing and customer experience, jump over to become CMO of enterprise information management company, OpenText? It's simple -- fear of failure.

The Road Not Taken

People were surprised about Kevin's move. But he thinks they should not have been. With Adobe, the vision is solid, the company is unified and the execution path is clear -- that's something Kevin had a lot to do with as VP of Enterprise Marketing. It was time for him to consider next steps and he was thinking hard about where he wanted to be in 2014.

Then the opportunity with OpenText crossed his path (interestingly enough, he had been paying attention to what was happening at OpenText). OpenText is a story of transformation, of harnessing the technology and people to transform a market around its new vision. What he saw was an opportunity to work on a more holistic vision, one that focuses on how enterprises have a conversation with customers, partners and employees. This story is about building an entire enterprise information management that touches all aspects of business and according to Kevin, it was the logical place for him to be.

Kevin gave me a little biographical history lesson. He started with Day Software as CMO in 2008 shortly after its new CEO Erik Hansen took over. Day's objectives at that time were to resuscitate the brand, reconnect with the install base, to build a strong partner ecosystem and to catalyze growth by taking advantage of the new web presence capabilities that were just being recognized at that time. Kevin partnered with R&D on the evolution of CQ platform getting it into that market leader position that it had when it came to the attention of Adobe (and was acquired in 2010).

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The story, according to Kevin, is the same at OpenText. It needs to call attention to its brand, which he says is its people and the innovations they provide to customers every day. OpenText is a powerful brand that needs new life breathed into it. The focus for Kevin this time though is on the CIO and helping them drive radical transformation within their organizations. It's a similar set of challenges, but different scale Kevin told me and he's excited by the opportunity.

The OpenText Challenge

OpenText is not without its challenges. It has over the past few years acquired a number of products and has had difficulty integrating them into seamless platforms. It also has a wide range of products and services which the new CEO Mark J. Barrenechea has announced will be brought together under a new enterprise information management (EIM) strategy. Barrenechea identified the five pillars of OpenText's new EIM strategy in August of 2012. They included: enterprise content management, business process management, customer experience management, information exchange and discovery.

What Kevin sees though is a huge opportunity. Although there's much work to be done, Kevin says OpenText is 100% aligned around the needs of the customer, working on a rationalized unified platform. Part of Kevin's job as CMO is to make sure OpenText delivers a platform that can be up and running quickly, with low deployment and operating costs.

One of the things he first assessed when he joined the company was the commitment of the CEO and the VP Engineering to make the necessary decisions to create this unified platform. But he also recognizes that it's an evolution and we will see the roadmap of that evolution become clear over the next couple of years.

One of the first steps is to reconnect with the OpenText install base and leverage the successes they are seeing to demonstrate to new prospects.

Understanding the Needs of the CIO

Maybe you think that a former VP of a digital marketing company couldn't have the knowledge necessary to tackle what's ahead for OpenText. But Kevin's background started in information management. Prior to Day/Adobe, he worked for both Alfresco (open source enterprise content management) and Interwoven -- so he has some experience in the information management space.

One of his core strengths is that he understands the needs of the CIOs, IT and developers/architects, so he's going back to his roots in many ways. Part of the reason he was able to take the OpenText CMO position is because there isn't a direct overlap in audiences between Adobe and OpenText.

But he also understands he has some things to learn more about especially in relation to enterprise content management, security, governance and compliance. And he will need to, as these are the bread and butter topics that play a key role in OpenText's strategy.

Fear of Success vs Fear of Failure

At Adobe, Kevin had the fear of success. Things were getting easy and it was becoming the "next turn of the crank." He was concerned he might lose his edge, because things were no longer a challenge. Adobe is doing well, and as he indicated, its vision and roadmap are clear.

But at OpenText, Kevin has the fear of failure. He felt like he needed to step up and this is the opportunity for him to do just that.

OpenText does have a lot of hard work ahead of it and it needs the right people in place to make that happen. I believe that people excel best when they have a great challenge/opportunity in front of them. It's part of what made me leave the comfortable consulting job I had with the nice paycheck and benefits to take on this role with CMSWire.

Kevin Cochrane is an important player in OpenText's story going forward. We've talked at considerable length about how CMOs and CIOs need to play together better in order for an organization to be successful. This is true not only with OpenText's clients, but also within its own walls. It's going to require more than a friendly marketing message to get OpenText into the next phase, and if anyone is going to help bridge the chasm between the story and the reality, Cochrane is that person.