Marc Andreessen once said “Software is eating the world.” This is the core challenge any business must rise to in order to reclaim their position in our increasingly mobile, digital, and competitive world. It’s the core challenge all businesses face. It is, in a sense, the meaning of the tech industry, the way it changes the world. From transportation to healthcare, education to finance, retail to government, software has been the transformative force and enables unprecedented progress in the way we all live and work.
Peter Thiel’s theme on AI in Zero to One provides a key to enabling this digital transformation: he reminds us that we — humans — aren’t threatened by computers and are not vaguely interchangeable. Dramatic breakthroughs are made when we can leverage our (human) brain and our intuition with the massive computing power and speed of computers (whether in the cloud or living in our pocket).
Content living in files (which you probably think of as documents) is still the way we work together - it’s a model that has been perfected since the first written words. And this continue to our modern work — as humans, as a team, as partners. Cloud-powered file sharing and content collaboration dramatically change the way we — humans — work together by making it easier to share and manage these files.
A New World of Content
We are living in a complex world. And content is so important to our understanding, anything we can’t express as content is something we can’t share. It’s the very core of business knowledge and business information.
The complexity of the information we manipulate hasn’t changed for several centuries (we have the same brain after all) but the new means to express and model it is nothing like before. And this won’t change, it will accelerate. If you take into account the big data powered insights / analytics, information from ubiquitous sensors and devices of the internet of things, it creates a new world of content. Very rich, structured, detailed content that human and computer can manipulate and leverage.
Shaking Up the ECM World with Deep Content
The current revolution improving how we work with content will take place in the way we link humans and computers. Content that is human-readable and computer-ready. It is changing the way we collaborate to transform businesses and use the agility of software to combine the processing power of computers with the adaptability and the intuition of the human brain. This is Deep Content.
Files and documents provide the mechanism we humans produce, store, manipulate and exchange knowledge.
Deep content is how we make computers team with us on this knowledge.
In a world of big data-powered insights, real-time analytics, living business processes and dramatic change in the way we produce and consume a fast growing and massive amount of content, the ECM world has been a sleepy giant. Of course, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and followers dramatically changed the way we share files. But few things have changed in the ECM world where metadata is still just metadata (ie: it’s flat, it’s boring, it’s static). The industry as whole has largely been untouched both as a discipline and available capabilities and features in content management software. Most are not transforming the way customers do business: what’s shared with file sharing are the same documents that were paper before. Workflow stays very much the same (though more scalable and faster) but the actual information is created, used and stored in much the same way. In a monolithic, computer blind way, OK so better than a huge warehouse of file cabinets. The way organizations leverage this information, this knowledge is very much the same as 20 years ago.
Deep content is how we change that, as an industry. That’s our turn to make an impact on the world (not just force metadata rules on people).
Deep Content in Action
Take GoBalto, a healthcare startup from California: they are transforming the way clinical trials are started and managed. Getting new drugs to market is a typical, rigid, regulated, and heavy business process. It is managed, as you would expect, by your typical 1000’s of pages of documents that few can understand. Putting these documents in a document management system was done for the past 15 years. When GoBalto morphed this into software they enabled a radically new way to leverage this process in term of sharing, reuse, business audit, compliance audit, etc. Their customers ultimately go through trial faster, safer and are able to accelerate time to market of new drugs.
Or GRF, publisher of law and regulations books for more than 70 years. They needed a way to make sure their customers had the most recent laws and regulations. Instead of merely publishing and sending their customers addendums (the old way), they created a mobile app which allows lawyers to point their phones at any page of a book and get, in real time, updated material if the page isn’t up to date. They have created an outstanding service for their customers in a world where laws change quite often, but also created a more valuable service on top of the book publishing business.
Finally FICO, with their Model Central product, makes it possible for their customers to model and manage complex rules to fight financial and credit fraud. It morphs documents into deep, rich content objects describing and documenting fraud detection and compliance audit rules in highly regulated financial services. This enable a new level of rules, auditability and manageability (think versioning, differentiation, and change logs on highly rich and nested objects). Anybody in charge of implementing the massive and recent financial regulation rules will understand the benefit.
The Opportunity is Massive
If you take a step back and look at the world around, how many old paper-based or paper-inherited process do you see? They are everywhere in the corporate and government world. There is tremendous value to be gained by transforming documents into software in order to improve the way we work, create new lines of business and get a new level of insight, agility, actionability on business processes.
So that’s our opportunity: turn documents into software with deep content and radically improve the way we leverage business information, knowledge. Welcome to the age of Deep Content.