OpenText was in the news the other week regarding their Project Red Oxygen. I won’t go into the pro’s and con’s of the project, but I was privy to an internal Gartner email where analsyts shared their views (among themselves) on the project. What caught my eye was not the project itself, but how OpenText was marketing itself. I hot fotted over to their home page and saw, in bright letters, “Enterprise Information Management”. In fact, if you look at their web site today, you can see the following:
Firstly I have to say – I love the press coverage for EIM. Just look at that tag line – the next big thing. That makes me happy for sure. After all, I did have something to do with the formation of Gartner’s coverage, neigh, the initiation, of EIM, back in the day. In fact, due to that history, I have to take issue with the marketing spin OpenText seems to be taking, and so here is a blog on the matter.
Several years ago Gartner formally and officially capitalized the phrase, “Enterprise Information Management”. EIM came about for a good reason: despite the massive amounts spend on IT, spanning BI, analytics, data warehousing, ERP, data integration, and so on, too few organizations in many industries really had any “single version of the truth” for the most important information in the enterprise. EIM was coined as an intention to convey to the end user that their current IM strategy is out of date; it’s wrong; it’s broken. They needed to add something – called EIM – to get the information governance sorted out. So EIM was “launched” and very quickly several things happened:
- It became a silver bullet – it filled a need that many firms had (the name for the “answer”)
- It became a technology – some vendors (think of BusinessObjects), renamed their entire suite, as EIM. It was as if “all things to do with information qualified”. No, it didn’t.
- It was seen as expansive, all in, and boil the ocean.
So how does Gartner describe EIM? Here is our last iteration (and it has not changed that much since inception):
EIM is an integrative discipline for structuring, describing and governing information assets, regardless of organizational and technological boundaries, to improve operational efficiency, promote transparency and enable business insight.
On the face of it, this definition is good. However, on reflection there were some gaps. For example, what information assets are in focus? All? Some? Which ones? What is an “information asset” anyway? The metadata? The actual data? The file that stores the data? It goes on and on. So the definition is good as it goes, but it needs some flesh and bones.
One that happened is that we introduced, a little later after EIM, “enterprise information” and we used that term very carefully to mean “information that is important to the business”. This was a critical step forward; it led to the idea that EIM would only focus on stuff that matters – and by implication we need now to also know what does NOT matter. Second, “important” leads to priority. So now we have the idea of a sequence of steps – starting small and growing over time. Now EIM was a tad more relevant.
Around the time we formally defined “enterprise information”, we also capitalized another hot potato – Master Data Management. Turns out that was another master stroke (no pun intended). MDM became the kick off of a formal EIM program for many organizations, since master data is sits at the center of many organizations. MDM focused on (mostly) structured data (stuff stored in relational databases, originally) that describe what an organization does. This meant things like, but not limited to, customers, products, services, citizens and so on. So MDM got going and now it is as real as you and me.
So where does OpenText fit in? In truth, before EIM was formalized, it is my understanding that OpenText is more of a Content Management vendor. That is, they focus on providing solutions to help organizations manage their (originally) unstructured data. Thus a CM program is not unlike an MDM program – they are both IM programs, with different foci. They are both part of an EIM program, when they are effective and mostly likely aligned (in that they share governance frameworks, as an example).
But MDM vendors (those that sell solutions to support MDM programs) don’t claim to be EIM vendors. So why does OpenText seem to suggest that they are themselves an EIM vendor? Not sure; not actually sure I have ever taken a briefing from them. I guess I might get an email or a call, or even a comment, to educate me
Now for the twist. We launched the markets first ever Master Data Management Summit back in 2007. That event is evolving, as the market is evolving. While still a critical element in any successful EIM program, we are expanding the focus in 2014 to Enterprise Information Management and MDM. Thus Content Management is now part of the dialog with end users! It could be that OpenText was a little ahead of the market in its positioning in the last couple of years, but one could argue they are not “where the puck is headed”. I could not possibly say that, of course, but any vendor could claim they support EIM. So I am still not sure what it buys any vendor to do this….