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1997: The year in review

This article appears in the issue January 1998 [Volume 7, Issue 1]

1996 was a little crazy. Every time you turned around, somebody was shelling out megabucks to buy somebody else. It was industry consolidation with a vengeance. Then came 1997 and "The Internet Changes Everything." Instead of buying and selling, the industry started acting, well, consolidated. In no time, we went from wild and woolly to heads down and HTML.

Consider that back on Jan. 1, 1997, Kodak had yet to buy Wang Software, and IW (formerly known as ImagingWorld) was still 10 months away from becoming Knowledge Management World (a k a KMWorld). And just one short year ago, most people had never heard of extranets, and DMA was the hothouse flower of standards. The time was definitely pre-Java bean.

IW, of course, was prescient. In our Jan. 1 feature on "Forty companies to watch in 1997," we correctly predicted that companies like Open Text, Documentum and NetRight Technologies (which is only now coming into its own via its alliance with Action Technologies) would move to the fore. Some of the other up-and-comers we noted included Lava, NSM and JetForm.

FileNet on the ropes

FileNet started out 1997 with a major case of corporate indigestion. It was struggling to integrate Watermark, Saros and Greenbar while those former competitors continued to fight it out under their new corporate umbrella. The company got hit with an unscrupulous, groundless class action lawsuit that accused it of insider trading. Because of a poor quarterly report, FileNet stock sunk and so did the company's image.

As the months progressed and CEO Ted Smith stuck by his guns, things started to improve. Smith--a longtime admirer of Big Blue--brought in IBM lifer Lee Roberts to turn the company around. Shortly after, FileNet got a welcome shot in the arm when it debuted its Discovery Suite, which claimed to leverage its Microsoft Back Office compatibility to provide hooks to other formerly wayward products. Customers responded positively, and Q2 results, though still weak, were up.

By the end of the year, Roberts had all but the most jaundiced pundits eating out of his hand, as he assured the masses that FileNet had a Web strategy that would carry the company into the new millennium and beyond.

Intranets everywhere

Every high-tech publication, no matter what its particular application bent, was consumed by intranets during 1997. Writing in our April 7 issue, Delphi Consulting Group VP Carl Frappaolo noted that for years, technologies such as workflow, document management and text retrieval have purported to provide ways to revolutionize our work environments. So what held them back? In a word, "infrastructure."

"This all changed with the inception of the corporate intranet," Frappaolo wrote. "The intranet has provided commoditized networking and has unburdened us from client-based application development. While we cannot yet clearly see our way to the end result of this powerfully unique environment created through the integration of these technologies, we instinctively know this is a change for the better."

When it comes to intranets, users are getting their bang for an exponentially increasing number of bucks. According to a Feb. 3 article written by Bill Zoellick, director of CAP Ventures' document software strategies service, among companies using intranets, expenditures on hardware, software and services exceeded $4 billion in 1996 and will more than double to $8.5 billion in 1997.

Motorola is a user that spent big on its corporate intranet, as we reported in our June 16 issue. The electronics giant awarded Open Text and its Livelink Intranet 7.0 application suite a 60,000-seat intranet installation contract. Code-named "Compass," the system was intended to enable Motorola employees to find, share, collaboratively develop and manage vast information resources.

Silver words from Bruce

KMWorld was again blessed with the prognostications of columnist/seer, Bruce Silver, principal of Bruce Silver Associates (which this year he relocated to sunny, surfy Aptos, CA).

Writing on the convergence of imaging and document management (Sept. 15), Silver observed that there are two driving forces: 1. document management vendors who hope to steal a piece of the imaging market; and 2. senior management in customer organizations--particularly IT management--who are frustrated with the compartmentalization of corporate information in incompatible imaging and document management repositories.

Silver also wrote about the emerging WEBDAV (Web-distributed authoring and versioning) standard, explaining how it may pose a threat to the seemingly secure future of DMA. Although WEBDAV was created to make Web authoring tools work with any standard Web server--which hardly makes it a competitor to DMA and its goal of locating documents across heterogeneous repositories--Silver explained how distributed authoring "naturally leads into topics like document attributes and searching, versions, renditions and other subjects at the heart of document management." Good mind food.

And speaking of DMA ...

Support for the wannabe standard started breaking down along vendor lines late in the year when it was noted--again by the oracle of Delphi, Carl Frappaolo--that vendors such as FileNet, Eastman Software and Xerox were directly involved in the prototype effort while NovaSoft, Documentum and PC Docs were not. Documentum framed the debate by claiming there is no popular user support for DMA, and that FileNet and Eastman are behind it because they need it to provide the connectivity they now lack. Harumph, replied Eastman, claiming Documentum, et al. are locked into proprietary compatibility schemes that will leave them vulnerable to their standardized competitors in the future. Stay tuned.

AIIM: always and forever

The great tribal meeting that is the AIIM show set up its teepee in the Big Apple in April, and as KMWorld Editor in Chief Andy Moore noted in our May 19 issue, "Among the 322 exhibitors, strength grew from alliance and partnership, in which best-of-breed technologies were interlocked into multiple-brand solutions built of interchangeable components."

Although this year's show was devoid of blockbuster product announcements, an entire wing of the show area was devoted to emerging technologies, which created an interesting technology mix for the curious and the committed alike. In the final analysis, the show succeeded if for no other reason than the fact it provided a forum for the many attendees who arrived with a short list of solutions providers to see and a clear vision of what they needed to understand.

On emerging technologies ...

AIIM's Emerging Technologies Advisory Group (EmTAG) reported the results of its survey of 221 AIIM attendees in time for publication in our July 21 issue. Respondees were asked to pick the three technologies they expect to have the most impact. In priority, they listed Web tools, workflow and document management. In 1996, they had listed document management ahead of Web tools and workflow. Those results stimulated EmTAG panelist Bill Zoellick to comment cryptically, "This represents the world before the freezing of the Rhine and the crossing over of the barbarians." (This is the official winner of the KMWorld quote of the year contest.)

Users at work

As has been our won't since the birth of ImagingWorld in January 1992, we consistently reported on what users are doing in the form of case study after case study. Spanning the world of vertical markets, we covered financial services, insurance, local/state/federal government, transportation, healthcare and a host of others. Some of the more memorable pieces included:

* Alaska Marine Lines/Lyndon Transport (July 21): streamlined freight information and billing process. Improved work distribution shores up customer service. One-year ROI. Vendor: Mosaix.

* Stafford County Office of Circuit Court Clerk (May 19): expedited recording process, improved public information access. Savings: $60,000. Vendor: Data General.

* Cox Health (Feb. 3): consolidated, digitized emergency room records. Six full-time employees redeployed. Four-year ROI. Vendor: LanVision.

Knowledge management takes center stage

In his perch high above Sharp's Wharf in the coastal village of Camden, ME, IW founder Bruce Taylor had a vision. He realized that the imaging/workflow/document management industry was in transition. The publication would no longer focus solely on information sharing technologies. Instead it would provide information regarding knowledge resource solutions. The new mission was to serve the knowledge management systems market.

A lot of other people and companies seem to have agreed with Bruce's vision, and now knowledge management, the discipline, is spreading like wildfire. All this change was the perfect capstone for a year in which the industry hitched up its pants, took a deep breath and got back to work.


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