Why isn’t Documentum like SAP

What’s so great about SAP?

It always amazes me how old school the SAP UI and way of working is. I simply cannot get the fact that employees are actually using it and although they are sometimes expressing frustration… they keep on investing and using SAP.

The CIO and the CFO are pouring much more funds inside SAP than in almost any other platform.. i think. Is there really such a big ROI here?

Okay, okay… I know SAP is very, extremely, hugely configurable and customizable. It also includes a lot of best practice processes inside, it “guides” (read it “forces”) business owners and users to follow a pattern. This could be a positive thing in the mind of the user, he can always say “the computer made me do it!” or “I can’t do this… SAP won’t let me!” – this way he has his ass covered and sits back in his little comfort zone.

Switch to ECM world. Take Documentum. Why isn’t it as adopted and funded and maybe “loved” like SAP? What’s needed in order to achieve such a success? Somebody I talked with yesterday said that if Documentum would come with sample data model and business processes for a huge number of cases, then it would measure up to SAP.

While this sounds like a good argument, I don’t know if this is the way to go. As I’m sitting in my hotel room, ready to check out… I’m thinking of some possible ways to achieve “greatness” in terms of ECM. My dream is to go to a customer, present my ECM/CMS/whatever and make him want it in the same way he’s wanting SAP. Sure, this is a little envy…

IT is more like fashion. Oooooo… if I have SAP then I’m a big company… look at me… I need SAP to confirm to me that i’m big.

I would love to be able to ignite such feelings with my ECM stuff. Instead, right now I just capture the enthusiastic and visionaries. I want to make people want the ECM software like they want an iPhone/Pod/Apple stuff. While Apple is sexy, SAP isn’t. But I guess it reaches to another primordial feeling, probably.

How can we trigger these kind of feelings to our users? Oh, wait… I need to go get some SharePoint.

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2 thoughts on “Why isn’t Documentum like SAP

  1. SAP offers many business applications and frameworks and visibly promotes partner business applications. ECM vendors either need to get vertical or get behind the ISV community to encourage the development of content based business process applications (not just repeatable solutions).

    There is a concentration on SIs and Global SIs as being the ideal channel partners for ECM vendors. The problem is one of business models. SIs be they regional or global have a business model predicated on the provision of services leading to customizations rather than applications (i.e. a software product with a roadmap, documentation, support etc). ECM vendors also derive revenue from their own professional services again leading to platform customizations using the brand to compete with existing and potential ISVs. Field compensation plans also play a part in the equation.

    There is nothing inherently wrong with customized solutions it is the notion that an ECM vendor or SI can build any solution a customer requires. This is of course a true statement but often do not have the industry expertise in depth to deliver. By definition customized solutions tackling the same business issue will all be different and not gain value through new releases etc.

    Apple iPhone is cool because of the app store as much as the technology itself by tapping into the knowledge and creativity of an application development community.

    Would a customer choose Oracle and then ask an SI to build an accounts payable package? If they did the IT department would rightly be shot! ECM vendors while I doubt will have the sex appeal of Apple could take the lead in driving an application community providing customers with more choice.

  2. Thanks Tim. This was exactly the kind of reasoning I was looking for.
    The business model makes the difference, I also think.
    I know how hard it is to build a CEVA in ECM, but it should be done more often. I’m trying to do that with my company, time will tell if we will succeed.

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