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PC DOCS management shuffle continues - New president to lead integrated knowledge management initiative

This article appears in the issue November 1998 [Volume 7, Issue 12]

For the second time in less than five months, PC DOCS Group International has announced a new president of PC DOCS Inc. Craig Wallace has been appointed president and chief operating officer. Previously the president of PC DOCS Group's one-person Internet software division, Wallace will lead a combined company incorporating DOCS Open-related business, Fulcrum and Internet software, and spearhead a corporate mission that includes delivering integrated knowledge management solutions.

Wallace replaces Brian Zanghi who headed the company since May. Ellen Taylor, who was appointed senior VP of worldwide marketing by Zanghi, also resigned.

The executive instability has evoked some concerned images from industry analysts.

Fastwater (www.fastwater .com) consultant Bill Zoellick offered a nautical analogy. "A year and a half ago, when Larry Bohn was skipper, PC DOCS was one of the bigger ships in the document management pond," he said. "They wandered without direction after Larry left--and after most of the marketing organization left--and paid the price as smaller, more focused companies like NetRight played the role of pirate and ran off with key customers.

"They never did manage to bring in an experienced skipper from elsewhere," Zoellick added, "but claimed that the best qualified person to guide the ship had been below deck all along, and brought him up to the helm. OK, maybe so. But now, within six months, they are bringing up yet another guy from below deck. It's hard to see what would make customers want to sign on for the trip. Perhaps Mr. Wallace will know how to clean the ship up and get it ready for sale to some other fleet."

Consultant Ray Edwards made a scorching comparison. "I recommend that PC DOCS follow my advice: 'Stop, drop & roll,'" said Edwards, president of Lighthouse Consulting Group (www.lchg.com). "It's a four-alarm fire. The spin doctors are now becoming firefighters. Clearly there was, is and shall be confusion in the PC DOCS' camp and if I were a potential new customer, I'd be concerned. More importantly, I'd be considering my long-term options. I was encouraged to see PC DOCS get some leadership in place months back, and believe they have a great deal of potential, but this is clearly a blow to their direction, creditability and momentum.

"This change doesn't just affect the name on the executive washroom, it will have a domino effect throughout some camps within the company," Edwards continued. "Add that to the fact that NovaSoft, NetRight, Documentum and FileNet are all pointing gasoline hoses at them, I predict third-degree burns and lots of plastic surgery. They will continue to lose marketshare, software partners and probably make few strides in getting out of the mold of being the DM solution to the legal industry. I wish Craig lots of luck as the new fire chief but he has definitely stepped out of the frying pan and into the fire."

James Watson, president of Doculabs (www.doculabs.com), turned to the world of sports for his metaphor. PC DOCS is right to make the pitching change now, he said.

"Lingering inadequacies at the top of any firm can cause lasting damage and more importantly stagnate growth," said Watson. "As we Cubs fans have learned many times, leaving a pitcher in just half an inning too long can cost you the game. I believe PC DOCS was right to change pitchers."

Michael O'Connor Clarke, PC DOCS Group VP of corporate marketing, offered some rebuttal.

"I wouldn't expect all of the analyst feedback to be positive. The market is holding its breath and the analysts are holding their breath," said Clarke. "There have been changes. What we are doing here is staying externally focused."

Clarke cited external improvements in areas such as product delivery, accounts receivable and customer service, as well as the recent announcement of the Canadian government as a major customer.

Acknowledging that Zanghi, who left due to operational differences with the board of directors, pushed strongly for vertical marketing for PC DOCS Inc., Clarke said, "The good news is the business plan, the vision is in place. They all continue uninterrupted."

Clarke said the vertical push will remain and that the company has other plans that would be detailed later.

"At KMExpo, we'll tell the world about an integrated knowledge management product" and about PC DOCS' go-forward plan, he said.

In a KMWorld interview, Wallace reiterated Clarke's message of focusing on the client and the concept of an integrated knowledge management product.

"In the spring we introduced the notion, now let us show you it," said Wallace.

A Delphi Group (www.delphigroup.com) announcement cautions against looking too far ahead, though.

"While the Internet may represent a major future opportunity for all software companies providing document management and knowledge management functionality, the challenges for PC DOCS are very much in the here and now," the Dephi report stated.

"The company appeared poised to offer the market a new definition that would bring the Fulcrum acquisition and two years of innovative product redesign into focus. But the recent announcement can only call the prompt execution on that promise into question."


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