I will be hosting a discussion in New Orleans on Thursday, March 21 – 10:30

ECM Migration Roadmap

SharePoint Templates

School Employees Credit Union of Washington (SECUWA) has been using FileNet for over a decade, they were one of the first Credit Unions in the country to implement document imaging in the ‘90s. The system became the second most critical business information system and is accessed by nearly every employee. When SECUWA decided it was time to find a new solution they knew it wouldn’t be an easy task. In order to accomplish the first phase of the project they hired cloudPWR to provide professional consultation and analysis. After six months of discovery and due diligence they discovered that it’s more than just selecting a new software package, more than buying new hardware and upgrading to the latest operating systems and browsers. It required a new look at the industry, an evaluation of the current business operations, and engaging in processes to incorporating key fundamentals, like records management and collaboration. Continue

Short read, interesting. Who owns your stuff in the cloud? – latimes.com. Bottom line is cloud isn’t going away, its just another example of the technology being ahead of law on the books. A couple of other things to consider are:

  • Do the benefits outweigh the risks, universal access, easy sharing and auditing all at a price point most business and individuals can afford.
  • Do cloud providers really have time or elicit any business benefit from snooping or scouring the billions of bytes looking for something valuable?
  • Transparency, If your not doing anything wrong do you really have to worry about police or government authorities?
The real risk I see is bad apples at these companies or government agencies. If Google or Box do have staff that really don’t have anything better to do but snoop. Taking the conspiracy theory one step further they might accept money from your competitor or private investigator to give them access to your content in kind of a content black market. Also the possibility of a public servant who decides to send a bunch of content to an organization like wikileaks.

Many cities, municipalities and state agencies are facing massive budget shortfalls, furloughs and even employee lay-offs. I have worked with government entities for most of my career. Today the environment for working with government entities is very different from any other time I can remember. In a 2006 article featured on the cover of Business Solutions Magazine I stated: “Back in the late ’90s, many state, county, and city governments made significant investments in imaging and document management technologies, where their criteria for provider selection was based largely on price,” I went on to conclude that many entities ended up scraping large ECM initiatives in part due to underfunding of the project by focusing on the lowest bidder and not enough on the overall solution or project delivery models being proposed by vendors. “Unlocking the secrets to Government ECM Sales”.

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Joe McKendrick a contributing writer for Forbes.com recently posted a thought provoking article on Vendor Lock-in with cloud computing services.

Cloud Computing’s Vendor Lock-In Problem: Why the Industry is Taking a Step Backward – Summify.

The general adoption of cloud computing models in some verticals is maturing quite rapidly. SalesForce.com is an obvious leader and has provided a competitive advantage for many organizations. There are many other markets that are still nascent in terms of even putting the idea of cloud computing on the IT radar.  The article touches on an important point, data migration, and one that protagonists will likely add to the existing list of reasons not to fly to the cloud (eg. Security, Compliance, 5Nines). I believe this could create a unique opportunity for a new segment of consultant, value-added reseller or ‘Cloud Broker’. CIO Magazine recently published an article on the subject and used Gartner as a source for defining a Cloud Broker as “a type of Cloud service provider that plays an intermediary role in Cloud computing”

While I agree that the market for brokers is at a very early stage and the roles they could play need clarity I disagree that it will take 5 years for widespread adoption of brokers.  An excellent example of success in this area is Cloud Sherpas. They focused on GoogleApps and by providing consultation and customization of the platform for specific use cases they add value for customers.  Not that different from an Systems Integrator just focused on cloud services instead of on premise hardware and software. I also believe that the ability for a broker to provide service consolidation to simplify the touch points for an organization is a key focus area.

Lastly I am thinking of the role a broker could play by giving giving customers competitive pricing based on volume purchasing.  Basically the same way Costco made the big box retail model work.  The broker approaches cloud service providers and negotiates more favorable rates based on the consolidation of consumers around a specific brand.  Not all cloud providers will be great at marketing or understand how their solution can be used in a specific vertical.  This is an area where brokers can specialize, consolidate markets and act as a customer advocate for small and medium size businesses in a specific vertical.  If I am just one chiropractor I won’t have the same buying power as 1,000 or even 10,000 chiropractors might have if consolidated under a single cloud brokerage house.

What is your take do the brokers have a future?

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Q: “Can you convince me to buy something from Microsoft v. Apple?” Did I mention we are going to sell 350M Windows devices. We aren’t going anywhere we are winning, winning, winning. – paraphrasing

Except I have been buying, selling and integrating PC’s and Windows for 20yrs. 2 months ago I switched from a PC laptop to a MacBook Air, so maybe its only 349M devices, plus I am not buying a Windows phone. I may be forced to buy a new Xbox 360 because my kids like it but the hardware doesn’t last.  Every Xbox I have every owned has ended in the red ring of death. As a consumer that makes me feel ripped off. That is interesting because that’s one of the main reasons I bought an Apple over a PC. I wanted something that would last and make me feel like I made a smart investment. When I listened to the video Steve made me feel like I have to buy Microsoft because he says so and that turned me off. Then he touts SharePoint as a $2B chunk of revenue.  SharePoint its free, at least WSS is free but if you really want to use SharePoint in the enterprise here is our price list, take a while sit back and try and figure it out.  Because it takes a full time position just to understand how to license Microsoft products in the enterprise.  Then you will need to buy several third party software products to actually make SharePoint do all the great things the pinwheel says it can do.  I am not saying this isn’t smart business because obviously it is, $2B can’t be wrong. Developers love it and the partners and ISV’s who focus exclusively on Microsoft love it.  Do all the customers love it?

I sat in front of the Microsoft Store for 30 minutes a few months ago and nothing made me want to go in, the only thing that looked exciting or fun was a kid playing with Xbox connect. Everyone else in the store looked like they were trying to be the guys at the Apple store but they weren’t very stoked about it. Then I went down to the Apple store and it was filled with genuine joy and excitement about technology. I guess as a consumer and a technology professional I just don’t feel joy and excitement when I think about Microsoft.

I am not trying to hate on Microsoft, I am just sharing my POV.  Microsoft will be a dominate player for many years to come and I will admit that I did buy Office for my Mac.

Q: What would it take for Microsoft to put joy and excitement back into the mix?

via Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, speaks at Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco – YouTube.

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