This month we spend a few moments with Brendan Coveney, who is General Manager for the Americas and Asia-Pacific, a key person in Nuxeo's development. Managing the largest geographies in the world is no small task, but fortunately we were able to catch him between continents and conference calls to get his perspective on how ECM platforms are evolving the marketplace and bringing new meaning to business efficiency.
Tell me about your role at Nuxeo.
My primary mission and role at Nuxeo is to drive sales and develop our the business in the Americas and Asia-Pacific, so I manage all the sales operations in these countries. My biggest job is ensuring we have happy customers in these areas.
How long have you been with Nuxeo?
I joined almost exactly 12 months ago.
You’ve brought with you a wealth of experience that spans years of working in technology in the US, throughout Asia-Pacific, and also Europe. In addition, you’re an Irishman, living in Silicon Valley—what diversity! Can you tell us how the approach to content management technology is different in each region?
From a big picture philosophy, I was always told that every country is different, but actually that’s not true. Everyone has the same business issues. They may be in a different cycle or phase, but everyone wants efficiency. They have the same basic needs of handling fast growth, managing their content, and understanding how they can use that content to better their business. They’re all trying to get a grasp on how business has changed and whether their infrastructure can keep up.
Different opportunities exist in different areas. In the US we’re in a mature environment, we’re seeing content management systems that are already in place. We see companies that have spent a lot of money using standard systems that don’t solve their issues. So now, we’re seeing a push for a platform to develop content applications (going beyond what standard products can offer), that integrates with existing systems to get the most efficiency. Essentially, we’ve replaced the physical warehouse with the electronic warehouse.
For emerging markets, such as Asia-Pacific (excluding Australia, I see them as a mature market), we have the opportunity to not make the same mistakes and learn from what we’ve done, bypassing this warehouse mentality. They haven’t had that last 100 years of history. So, in these markets, we’re starting to build from scratch and get ahead of the game. Today’s game is about managing hyper-growth in a rapidly growing economy with a dynamic workforce. People are moving jobs much more in Asia than before. So a lot of the knowledge resides with the employees; being able to capture information and harness it in a rapidly moving workforce is key.
It’s hard to shoot for the stars when your feet are stuck in concrete. It’s easier for them to learn from others, not burdened by history.
Do you feel that the US is resistant to change when it comes to content management?
There are now quite a few enlightened companies and information managers who understand that they have to do things differently. For the last 20 years, we’ve squeezed the last drop of efficiency out of businesses using computer innovations. But this can’t continue, there’s nothing left to squeeze, we’re at the point now where automating a process is not enough. So, the next 20 years can’t be the same story. Information needs to be available to every knowledge worker, not stuck in silos.
And how does Nuxeo fit into this picture?
At its core, Nuxeo is a platform. It’s meant to integrate. Many people don’t even realize that they’re using Nuxeo because it’s part of a complete system whether it’s non-traditional content management or used as a global system rather than a stand alone application. Bottom line: it plays well with others.
How do you perceive the ECM market in the US today? You’ve often spoke about Nuxeo’s platform approach and understand Nuxeo is often used outside of the traditional ECM scope. Is that something Nuxeo did on purpose as a business strategy or a global trend?
Nuxeo was designed from the ground up for this approach. The whole architecture was suited for this approach. There was a tremendous vision a couple years ago to put this together. It was a big risk. They could have just built another content management application, but what they created was something so much more.
I’m a geek at heart so I’m really impressed with the technical architecture. One of the nicer things about being in sales is that you get one-on-one time with the customers and when you see architects look at the code and say, “wow this is great,” it gives you great validation for what we do. You know that they really see the simplicity of how its built and they’re already visualizing what they can do with it, where it can go, and how to make it happen.
What is the main message you hear from Nuxeo’s US customers? Why did they pick Nuxeo?
The first thing is that they’re struggling in terms of business. They’ve been challenged by their manager to find new ways to make things more efficient. You can’t just computerize manual processes. It’s been done. The challenge now is gaining efficiency in organizations that are already computerized. You have to think differently. You have to make sure you get information out to all the people who need it, whenever they need it, and on whatever device they’re using. They want an integrated ecosystem.
One of the benefits of being a smaller company is that we can be very dynamic. We can move quickly without the bureaucracy that larger companies face. We don’t have our feet in concrete. It’s been a very exciting, challenging, and rewarding process to work with the US market. And we’re seeing tremendous growth. With that, comes tremendous responsibility. When you grow quickly, you need to make sure your customers are happy. Look after the girl you brought to the dance, as I like to say.
The key to growth is happy customers. You can have lots of growth in a short amount of time, but without your customers you’re not going to be able to sustain your business.
As a business person, can you name your 3 favourite Nuxeo features?
Again, I’m a geek so I’d have to say the architecture, specifically its extensibility. And then I’ll reference two forthcoming features in the next weeks or months because I love them:
- Content routing which makes it very, very easy to manage workflows. You can have very sophisticated, adaptive workflows in a simple, easy manner accomplished just by drawing out the workflow.
- New desktop synchronization—I admit...I’m a big Dropbox user, so being able to synchronize documents between your computer, mobile device, and a shared repository is critical. To have that kind of integration within Nuxeo now is huge. We live in a mobile world these days.
Do you have any predictions for the next 12 months?
It’s going to be another year of hyper growth for Nuxeo, with all the challenges and rewards that brings. I think 5.6 will be huge, that it will be very well received by the market and existing customers.
I also think we’ll see a greater shift in the mentality surrounding CMS. It’s no longer records management, it’s a mainstream business issue and CEOs are understanding it’s not just a regulatory requirement—it’s a means of growing your business. So where in years past, it was seen as a necessary evil, decision makers will see it now as an asset.
We’re also seeing smaller companies that are running their whole business in Nuxeo. Smaller companies are like the Asian dynamic, they can learn from the mistakes of big corporations. Utilize the features and benefits that content management systems have and integrate it at the right place, at the right time. “Enterprise Content Management” doesn’t always mean number of staff or amount of budget, it also tells the story of mountains and mountains of data.
Smaller companies can implement Nuxeo today and have it solve their business issues right away and not have to throw it out or start over later. The platform will grow with them. Plus being open source, they can get started at a relatively low cost with all the benefits that the big boys have without having to spend millions of dollars.
What’s the biggest challenge you face...what keeps you up at night?
In terms of rapid growth, it’s about maintaining customer satisfaction throughout that process. As we grow, we need to make sure that we put people and processes in place that ensure our customers are happy and so far (humbly speaking) we’ve done a good job, but you can’t take your eyes off this aspect for long.
What do you do in your spare time?
Well, I have 2 beautiful kids, who are very much involved in sports. We spend a lot of time waving at each other in cars as we travel between our many activities: soccer, karate (they’re both black belts), etc. and I’m president of the local soccer league that has over 700 kids, our league alone has 350 games. Plus, I coach my son’s team.
In the soccer world, which team are you supporting?
This year is the European Cup, so I’ll be supporting Ireland, for the World Cup, I’ll be supporting the US. I’m a huge Arsenal fan, though. Luckily I bleed red, otherwise I’d have to change the color of my blood. [laughs]