I came to sales, if not kicking and screaming, then certainly not doing backflips. Until four years ago, I was always a doer: musician, teacher, editor, project manager, business analyst, IT leader, then consultant (yes, folks, consulting does count as doing something). In 2010, however, I got the opportunity to step into a role at Doculabs that was my first serious sales role.
Sure, at the time I told myself it was business development, not sales, as if that would somehow insulate me from the unsavory, somewhat slimy world of selling people things. But in the end, of course, they both really amount to the same thing: you need to convince folks who aren’t doing business with you to do business with you by selling them something. Full stop.
Now, to be fair, I had (and continue to have) other responsibilities at Doculabs: creating and nurturing new service offerings, contributing to our go to market strategies, sponsoring and delivering on consulting engagements, coaching and mentoring my colleagues, growing the Doculabs brand through thought leadership activities, and working with my fellow leadership team members to chart a course for Doculabs as a whole to ensure that it will continue to thrive for years to come. But the fact is, if we don’t sell our services to clients, then all the rest of this stuff is meaningless—without a viable business, we have to pack it up and go home.
I’m excited to be co-chairing a new enterprise content management (ECM) conference this spring: Connect-IT. The goal is to bring ECM leaders from IT and the business together to spend two days sharing what works and what doesn’t on customer led panels and sessions and networking with peers across industries.
The conference is May 13-14 in Greenwich, CT and is gearing up to be a great two days. Advanced registration is going on now – click here to check out our brochure, which has full information about the conference.
You can also join our LinkedIn group to stay up to date with what’s going on with the conference leading up to May, connect with other attendees, and continue your discussions and networking after the conference is over.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting more information here, both about speakers and topics, so I hope even if you aren’t able to make it this year, that you’ll find the information valuable and keep Connect-IT in mind for your 2015 plans.
On Thursday, October 3rd, AIIM is bringing their ”Information Governance in a Social & Mobile World Seminar” to the Doubletree by Hilton in Arlington Heights, IL. Doculabs is participating. Stop by our table if you’re there. Doculabs co-founder and information management guru Richard Medina will there and would love to talk about information governance or anything else you have in mind.
AIIM President, John Mancini, subject-matter-experts, and your peers will come together to learn how to:
- Automate core records management processes
- Reduce litigation costs, risks, and storage costs by responsibly getting rid of everything that has no business value
- Tap into the advantages of social systems without increasing business risk
There’s no charge to attend the seminar, you don’t need to be a member, and you’ll join local organizations like Abbott Laboratories, Allstate, American Hotel Register, Argonne National Laboratory, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Chicago Housing Authority, City of Chicago, DePaul University, GE, Grainger, Harley-Davidson, Northwestern Mutual, VW Credit and many more.
Check out the program agenda and register (for FREE) here.
At least not enough to pay for it, it seems to me.
Here’s where I’m coming from: I’ve been at Doculabs helping clients for a little over six years now. In that time, I’ve worked with something on the order of 120 Fortune 1000 organizations directly and had substantive discussions with probably four or five hundred others at conferences, through marketing events, and doing general business development. And I can count on one hand (with some fingers left over) the number of organizations I’ve seen fund any kind of enterprise content management (ECM) initiative based on risk or cost avoidance alone.
Look at it this way: every Fortune 500 company has a substantial e-discovery problem, big time compliance constraints, and a serious over-retention problem. And lots of them will tell you that they are “very, very concerned” about these and that they have the support to do something about them (or at least are getting close to getting that support). And, imagine this, they may even have the money to hire a strategy consulting firm to help them build out the business case and roadmap for solving these problems. But no matter how good that strategy and roadmap may turn out to be, when the chips are down and their CXOs have to decide yea or nay, I’ll always put my money on a nay—especially given the current economic climate.
First, cost and risk avoidance are always less attractive than direct cost savings or revenue generators. And in any given budget cycle, it’s a 100% certainty that your CXOs are reviewing a portfolio of projects that include a good many that drive direct cost savings or revenue generation. Next to them, your ECM initiative to avoid cost and risk will pale in comparison.
Second, consider the organizational change management required. Let’s assume that you make the cut and survive the first round against all those direct cost savings and revenue generating projects. Shortly thereafter, your CXOs will calculate the change management required to achieve the return your project promises. Here’s where things get really bad for ECM, because it order to impact e-discovery, compliance, and over-retention in any meaningful way, ECM requires that pretty much every knowledge worker has to change the way they work every day, day in and day out with every document they touch. That’s a big deal at no matter the organization and will make your CXOs pause, because I can bet you that almost no other proposal they’re considering will have quite so big an organizational change management price tag.
Third, and finally, consider the riskiness of the proposed initiative, i.e., how likely is it to succeed (or fail)? To answer this, your CXOs are going to look into two things:
- How many successful ECM programs have they seen in their travels in the wider world of business? (Answer: not many)
- How often has their organization succeeded in this kind of initiative? (Answer: not often)
On the flip side, they’re going to ask, how would we be better off funding the ECM initiative rather than doing more of what we typically do in our operations, e.g., building another cell tower, bringing another crusher on-line, drilling more wells, hiring more financial advisors, standing up more factories, etc.?
Answer: we wouldn’t be better off, because the huge increase in cost savings, revenue, or margins due to these projects will more than offset any e-discovery, compliance, or storage cost and risk we currently face.
The result? Unless you can argue successfully for a direct line to revenue, savings, or margin, don’t hold your breath to get your ECM initiative funded.
The Final Word
So much for my admittedly biased perspective. Have a different one? Been part of an ECM initiative that was funded based on cost or risk avoidance alone? Think I’m crazy in general? Great! Jump in, and let’s get the conversation started!
Just wanted to let everyone know I’ll be a little busy with our newest addition, James Matthew, born this morning.
So the blogs may be a bit slow in coming these next few weeks (months?)…I’ll dive back in to SharePoint, records management, and ECM once I come up for air!
Almost three years ago, I did some prognostication about SharePoint owning enterprise content management (ECM) in the not-too-distant future.
At the time, SharePoint 2010 was just released to market and the post raised some eyebrows because I thought it entirely plausible that one day SharePoint could be all the ECM anyone needed (other than heavy-duty workflow and image management).
Before you rush to judge me one way or the other, you need both to understand that I was fresh of the heels of a pretty amazing demo at a F500 client who had made the decision to use SharePoint 2010 as their sole ECM platform and to remember that in the summer of 2010, traditional ECM vendors were scrambling pretty hard to figure out how to position themselves relative to SharePoint.
Three years later, what do I think of my prediction?