User conferences are designed to be big rah-rah events − pep rallies at which vendors, software engineers, solution providers and their customers all gather to showcase their products and celebrate their successes.
Days are generally jam-packed with keynotes, presentations, and panel discussions; evenings are filled with extraordinary entertainment, cocktails and fun. EMC's PR team put together a hell of a video, check it out.
If these conferences go as they are supposed to (and a great deal of planning and effort go into ensuring that they do) attendees return to their home-bases enthused, eager to preach the “good news” to the masses and to sell their software and services.
And though EMC, as a whole, typically gets a good “bounce” from its EMC World Conferences, reports from the Momentum (Documentum) part of the Conferences have been underwhelming over the past few years.
This trend might have finally changed for the better.
I say this not based on what I saw, (I was not there), but according to the bloggers who posted and tweeted (some rather tirelessly) from Lisbon, where Momentum Europe was held. Even though most of these bloggers work for EMC integrators/service provider firms which get leads, recommendations, contracting opportunities and referrals from EMC, their appraisals are surprisingly honest.
If you have the time and the interest, I'd encourage you to read the blogs of Lee Smith , Sander Hendriks, and Robin East . They all reported rather tirelessly. If you want my take on the aforementioned, keep reading.
If you follow this blog, you probably know that I and most everyone who works with Documentum were hoping that EMC's IIG (Documentum) leadership team would show up and hit a home run (or at least get to third base.) And that sort of happened. It seems that everyone but the top brass had a message to offer that enthusiasts wanted to hear. So, before I get into where Mark Lewis fell short, let me say that the conference got better once he left the stage, but here's what the bloggers had to say about Lewis' keynote:
Robin East wrote:
I have to say yet again I didn’t “get” a vision from Mark Lewis’ keynote. He says a lot of things that are informative and insightful but it tends to have a very abstract quality . There is nothing I can take back to a CIO or programme manager and say “we need to invest in EMC so we can do this”
Lee Smith wrote:
I feel this was a missed opportunity. Mark Lewis has no doubt put a lot of effort into EMC IIG and he deserved the recognition for his efforts, however in this Keynote that should have been the start and would have enabled Rick to really launch the new dawn of IIG. I wanted more on the vision and I wanted more on the plans to get there, the messages were too generic in my view and a number of them would have been applicable at many different software and hardware vendor presentations.
Its a real shame as I have found the conference since the keynote to be excellent and there is a real buzz about the new direction, unfortunately the buzz was not there as the main auditorium dispersed for lunch on the first day, it has grown in the time since then.
Sander Hendriks, who usually is a rah-rah boy, wrote:
The bad: I have to agree with Lee Smith, would concluded in an article about the keynote that a real ECM vision was lacking from Mark's keynote. I understand that customers who had come to here about ECM were disappointed.
The good: if you're willing to look beyond the above, then it wasn't that bad at all. Mark had a lot more energy than in his keynote at EMC World last year. Last year he was explaining what a cloud was to us all and he really looked like Joe Tucci had personally made him do it. Now he was looking like he was telling his own story. One about the future of IT as he sees it. And he had some good points. for instance: Firewalls are no longer a useful paradigm in the context of information security. More and more users are buying their own devices (iPads, Android phone, etc) and are expecting to be able to use them for private and business functions. With all these devices connecting to your business information in more and more diverse ways, firewalls are just not going to cut it, nor are VPN's. That was a bit of an eye opener for me. Mark didn't really present a solution though. I came up with IRM, but that comes from me, not him.
All of that being said, not everyone can sell the steak and the sizzle at the same time the way Steve Jobs does, but the problem is Lewis sold neither. And so non-enthusiasts will walk away uncertain as to whether a steak worth paying for actually exists and it's generally not a question they're willing to spend time pondering- they have other choices that are more appealing to the senses.
Now, before I close on this particular post, Andrew Chapman, who works for EMC, has a slightly different take, not on Lewis' keynote, but on what IIG has achieved during his reign and how it all came together at Momentum:
For the last few years we at IIG (or CMA or Documentum) have been taking some hits over not having a coherent strategy – or at least not being able to express it clearly. I cannot comment on those accusations because I actually want to keep my job but I will say this: for the first time in a while I was able to connect the dots from Mark Lewis’ vision to Rick Devenuti’s strategy to Whitney Tidmarsh’s delivery comments to Jeetu Patel’s industry-vision presentation. More importantly I was able to map what I am doing from the lowly depths of product development to each and every one of those presentations. This isn’t surprising, Mark set out a lofty vision 3 years ago and it has taken this long for us to turn the IIG mega-tanker to that heading and to prime the bilge pumps to start spewing out actual product…I’m thinking that the mega-tanker & bilge pump analogy might not have been a good choice considering our huge emphasis on product quality! Oh well, too late.
Those who tweeted from Momentum seemed to embrace EMC's new Documentum strategy more and more as the conference went on (read the tweets bottom to top to see this happening) and this, of course, is a very good thing. One big question to ask is whether the companies who have deep enough pockets to pay for Documentum want to move in the direction that IIG's mega-tanker will take them. The other is whether there will be anyone skilled enough to make the pitch and deliver the sale.
Momentum Lisbon was filled with Documentum enthusiasts, the rest of the world is not. So, if Chapman, Smith, East and Hendriks are right when the say that IIG has finally come to the table with something of value, then Rick Devenuti's challenge is to get the messaging out and to make the sale.