Desk of Brad

Wave of Technology Advancement

Big waves only come around once in a while… 
I’ve been doing some reflecting and planning on our business for 2020. So things are coming together very nicely on the business development front … our deal flow, software partnerships, and sales messaging are all very strong. Maybe the strongest I’ve ever seen. SDL has something special that we can sell, Docs plus Sites and DXD is a game-changer. It solves a very large and expensive enterprise business problem, which is actually managing content.

Adobe, Sitecore, Drupal… (whatever pick your favorite Portal/CMS), manage websites or, more accurately, the presentation of the content, not the content itself.  
This gives all of those software products a fatal market flaw. Which is that most of the R&D investment for these software companies aren’t going to pay off. The number of device types and channels; desktop, cell phone, watch, tablet, TV screens, etc. have basically settled down and most of our experiences happen inside the context of an application. Even TV is moving to Netflix or Hulu, it’s all application-driven. The complexity is in the variations of the content not the variations in the presentation layer. When you’re running a software company you have to be smart about choosing which problem you solve and that problem for enterprise software has to be expensive. 

Conversely, SDL invested in structured documentation, Dita, and abstracting the presentation layer with DXD and Graph QL. Yes, it’s still a work in process, I’ll admit the software isn’t fully baked, I’m hoping that SDL is not more than a version or two away. It turns out that managing the complexity of content variation is a very important and very expensive business problem within the Fortune 500. Just consider the entire content supply chain, not only does it need to be accurate for compliance reasons, the number of variations is exploding. You have to worry about language, localization, segmentation, content sequencing, not to mention all of the workflows, compliance, and other regulatory or bureaucratic requirements. Content lives within various temporal states and is modified or enhanced along the way. I could spend the next few hours talking about content creation, modification, approvals, publishing, and curation and still not capture all the complexity. It looks like SDL spent their R&D dollars on solving a very expensive problem.  
Let me give you three examples to consider: 

  • You’re in a regulated industry; financial services, health care, etc. Since the economic crisis in 2008 or since the passage of the affordable care act, large companies have been inundated with significant regulatory requirements. A whole series of disclosures, forms, and certainty about the customer experience that must be adhered too, the same thing is true about HIPPA and privacy requirements on the healthcare side. Violations of these regulatory requirements come with huge fines and bad publicity. Look at the mortgage crisis, if you were not given the proper disclosure forms or you went to a site and were provided misleading information, you can sue your lender and have your loan forgiven. Then to top it off, the business will be fined for not complying with the regulations. The penalty for violating privacy rights or publishing unapproved content against FDA guidance, can not only cost you huge fines but can shut down a company. So how do you think compliance is worth to a large company … a lot of money.  So you’re Bank XYZ, you sell on a national level but you’re regulated at a state level, that’s how banks operate. You’ve decided to change your loan application disclosure forms. You now have to update the overarching standard disclosure and change a few paragraphs that differ from state to state based on the laws. You don’t have a creative based presentation problem. You have an entire content life cycle to manage and you need to ensure that at every single customer touchpoint the proper disclosure form is published. Oh, and if you make one mistake in just one state, the Attorney General from that State is going to open an inquiry on your deceitful practices.    
  • Or let’s consider the Knowledge portal problem. You run a large retail organization or a consulting company with 100K employees. Most of your costs and most of your profits are based on the efficiencies of the workforce. Do your people know what to do and are the instructions and manuals readily available? On average your workforce costs about $60 dollars per hour with benefits etc. This is a low number but you’ll get the point. If people can find accurate information faster, let’s say they’ll gain an additional 2 hours per week to spend on higher-value productive work rather than surfing the internal systems for the answer. The company will save somewhere north of $300MM per year in operational costs. So let’s say that our project costs $20MM including software and services. You’re the CEO, and the proposal is that you modernize your infrastructure and processes, which will cost $20MM plus “Tahzoo change orders”  and you save $300MM in a year in productivity… would you take that deal? 
  • Lastly and more briefly, let’s quickly look at Consumer Package goods products. So you sell computers on a global basis. Retaining customers is your best marketing solution, however, achieving this goal is based on the quality of the product and the customer service. Imagine that you can repurpose all of your technical documentation to enhance customer experience and then provide feedback to the product groups? What is that worth in terms of customer retention or creating great new products?  

What we are seeing is SDL solves this fundamental content management problem. That “below the line” result is worth millions of dollars in savings and “above the line” is worth millions in increased revenue and customer loyalty. That is worth millions of dollars in cost savings and millions in profit. Technology advancements come in waves, some bigger than others. I am here to tell you this is a big wave, a really big wave, buckle your chin straps we are just getting started.  
Let’s go be great!