Enterprise Content Management Solution Creates the Ultimate Customer Experience

  • Written By: Hans Mercx
  • Published On: August 7 2006



Enterprise Content Management Solution Creates the Ultimate Customer Experience

Introduction

Customers are demanding more from organizations. The client wants to receive personalized information, on any device, at any time. Currently, clients receive incorrect, outdated, and poor-quality information, through brochures, the Internet, e-mails, and advertisements.

Business processes are not automated—or not automated correctly—to provide targeted information through the right media at the right time. Enterprise content management (ECM) vendors are trying to provide solutions to help organizations succeed in providing a full "customer experience" to their customers. Organizations aim at strengthening the customer's loyalty, improve brand recognition and corporate image, and optimize processes, including acceleration of time-to-market. Organizations should therefore focus on delivering personalized and relevant content, combined with consistency.

Interwoven is the first vendor to provide a full end-to-end solution for this customer experience. Headquartered in Sunnyvale, California (US), the vendor is a provider of ECM solutions. It was founded in 1995, and currently has more than 750 employees across 15 countries. Interwoven provides solutions for a wide variety of industries, but is extremely strong in the legal and financial industries. The vendor categorizes its main focus as being in customer experience, professional services, and financial services solutions.

Interwoven began as a web content management (WCM) vendor, providing a solution for document management, as well as the ability to publish this content to different web sites. Throughout the last five years, Interwoven has acquired companies in digital asset management (DAM), records management, and collaborative document management, and has integrated these solutions with its existing software to offer a full range of functionality in ECM.

Interwoven has struggled financially in the past. In 2001 and 2002, with the downfall of the internet market, Interwoven experienced a decline in revenue, along with a net loss of $47.5 million (USD) in 2003 and a $23.7 million (USD) net loss in 2004. The losses were associated with the acquisition of iManage, among others. But during the last two years, Interwoven has improved its situation, with a 9 percent increase in revenue in 2005 to $175 million (USD), and $130 million (USD) debt-free in cash. Interwoven's current base is over 3,450 customers, which represents a 14 percent increase from 2005. Interwoven had a boost in 2005 as well, when it generated an operating margin of 8 percent (non-generally accepted accounting principles [GAAP]), an increase of 167 percent over 2004.

Interwoven's Solution
Interwoven provides a full ECM solution, covering the main ECM functionalities (document management, WCM, records management, imaging, collaboration, and workflow). See Enterprise Content Management: It Is More than Just Web Content Management. This is in addition to more specific functionality such as e-mail management and DAM (see Document Management and Digital Asset Management: Is There a Difference and What Might It Be?). Interwoven offers these core components in the six products we'll examine next.

TeamSite for Web Content Management
TeamSite remains one of Interwoven's leading products for managing intranets, internal portals and public web sites, dealer portals, and extranets. In addition, Interwoven's LiveSite Content Publishing Server, brings a new interface and presentation to the business user.

Clients using a pre-6.0 version of TeamSite mention that it is less user friendly because TeamSite uses its own interface, and is not available through a browser. Currently, TeamSite has portal interfaces to BEA, IBM, and SAP—and with LiveSite, a fully browser-based interface.

WorkSite for Document Management and Collaboration
Interwoven WorkSite is an inheritance of the acquisition of iManage in 2003. WorkSite revenue mainly stems from the professional services market (legal, accounting, and management consulting), and covers core document-handling features, including check-in/check-out, version control, full-text and metadata search, and document-level security and permissions. WorkSite is offered for both the .Net and Java 2 platforms and is actively supported and developed. Interwoven is aggressively focusing on the financial services market with its WorkSite MP product ("MP" standing for "management platform").

WorkSite also addresses Interwoven's e-mail management functionality. WorkSite can route incoming and outgoing e-mail messages (which reduces the overload of the e-mail servers), and place the e-mails in the appropriate folders of the WorkSite Communication Server. This makes it possible to share the information within the e-mails across the organization.

Interwoven made a smart move by adding e-mail management to their product suite with respect to current compliances and regulations. See Managing the Overflow of E-mails.

MediaBin for Digital Asset Management
Interwoven's MediaBin provides one of the leading DAM solutions. Interwoven acquired MediaBin in June 2003. As a result, there are more customers combining TeamSite with MediaBin in their solution suite to leverage Interwoven's capabilities. With the new development of functionalities for MediaBin, Interwoven is focusing on marketing departments by enabling Microsoft PowerPoint management capabilities to MediaBin.

In the DAM market, Interwoven competes with niche players such as Chuckwalla and ClearStory Systems, as well as other ECM vendors such as EMC/Documentum, and Open Text, which acquired Artesia in August 2004 (Artesia was the market leader at that time).

Records Manager for Records Management
In August 2004, Interwoven acquired Software Intelligence, a pure-play vendor for records management. As this product mainly focuses on the legal industry, Interwoven integrated this solution with WorkSite, providing management of paper, electronic documents, and e-mail, in a single solution. Currently, Interwoven offers a single interface for document and records management, and has extended the integration to all Interwoven repositories, including third-party content repositories, based on a service-oriented architecture (SOA).

MetaTagger for Content Intelligence

Interwoven MetaTagger Studio and MetaTagger Server provide the ability to categorize content in a structured way to ensure accuracy in delivery of content for presentation, search, and navigation of information.

Even though Interwoven offers its solution as a suite of products, Interwoven should focus on creating a suite that uses one repository and server application. Other leading ECM vendors have already made this transition. Through the features of the Content Integration Server, Interwoven has created an interim strategy to improve this integration.

The Content Integration Server provides the ability to leverage and re-use content stored in repositories and file systems throughout the enterprise. This presents the ability to search for content in various repositories, aggregate that content into TeamSite, and re-use this content for deployment.

Enterprise Application Connector Suite
The Interwoven Enterprise Application Connector Suite ensures that team members throughout the enterprise collaborate, share, and manage knowledge through everyday business portals.

Lastly, Interwoven offers its developers the Interwoven Developer Suite. The Interwoven Developer Suite provides a set of tools that assist the development, customization, and integration of applications with Interwoven solutions and products.

Besides the products Interwoven has itself, there are certain features it covers that can be essential for ECM clients, such as imaging. Interwoven has a partner network for scanning and image capture integrations, that integrate with WorkSite, including companies such as Kofax and eCopy. The ability to use imaging in an ECM suite becomes essential for legal documents, contract management, and regulations compliance. However, Interwoven should continue to enhance these features to stay competitive in the ECM market.

The Customer Experience
Interwoven's main focus is to try to create what it calls the "customer experience." Interwoven defines customer experience as the degree to which customers feel that content interactions meet their needs. Interwoven's suite of products, as explained above, provides the client the ability to improve brand recognition and consistency, accelerate the time-to-market, and improve and personalize customer interactions.

Interwoven's suite delivers this customer experience, and the vendor keeps improving the product suite to provide the customer experience to its clients. For example, Interwoven supports integration with the BlackBerry product for document management, which provides professional services organizations with higher mobility and client service. Interwoven also partnered up with SDL, a leading company in global information management solutions for translations, localization, and globalization. Finally, Interwoven announced an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) agreement with Ericsson, whereby Ericsson will be using Interwoven technology as an infrastructure for delivering media and content services (ring tones, videos, and so on) to mobile network operators.

Product Strengths
With its latest acquisitions, Interwoven has positioned itself as a full ECM vendor with all the core capabilities. Most products integrate well with each other. The ECM market recognizes Interwoven as the leading vendor in such areas as WCM, DAM, and scalability. Even though the Dutch WCM vendor Tridion is strong in Europe, it cannot compete with the scalability of Interwoven's solution, as Tridion's solution is less robust. The robustness of Interwoven's solution gives larger enterprises a product with the capability of handling its transactions and workload.

Interwoven developed its solution for the Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) platform as well. It built the product using an SOA with the latest standards, in supporting the Java Portlet Specification (JSR) 268, JSR 170, and Web Services for Remote Portlets (WSRP) standards.

In the last years and a half, Interwoven has worked hard on the ease of use of its solution, as well as on integration towards customer-specific applications. Interwoven integrates with Microsoft SharePoint well, which benefits Microsoft users.

Challenges and Vendor Recommendations

Even though the products integrate with each other, back-end integration still requires substantial work. The different repositories for the different applications remain an area that Interwoven should address. Interwoven mentioned that this feature would be available in 2006.

Interwoven does provide e-mail management capabilities, but should improve these features with respect to e-mail protection and compliance, to be more competitive in this area—especially because of its contract management focus and strong presence in the legal market.

Other leading companies such as IBM, EMC, and Microsoft are expanding the scope of ECM with respect to functionality. Interwoven is making the right choice by focusing on developing new functionality based on its existing customers and the strengths of its product, including data integration, search capabilities, and captive imaging.

Another focus point for Interwoven should be the ability to link into other databases and operating systems, such as IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle; and the integration of Interwoven's content management solution with the storage capabilities of companies such as EMC.

Interwoven develops its solution for the .Net, J2EE, and Linux platforms. Even though it currently succeeds in these developments, to keep up with the latest developments for all platforms will be a daunting task. Clients and prospects will have to review Interwoven's development strategies when making platform decisions or changes with Interwoven's solution.

Rafiq Mohammadi, Interwoven's chief technology officer (CTO), mentioned that the vendor will focus on some complex problems in 2006 and 2007:

  • dealing with the rapid explosion of content;
  • driving wide adoptability of enterprise risk mitigation policies;
  • linking the software with customer communication strategies;
  • expanding support to other professional service processes;
  • integrating financial service applications with Interwoven's repositories; and
  • improving the architecture and development.

These focus points, and their successful execution, will help Interwoven improve its position as one of the ECM market leaders.

User Recommendations

As mentioned above, Interwoven users with a pre-6.0 version of TeamSite mentioned that the user interface (UI) was les attractive and user friendly. As Interwoven's newer version has changed significantly, these users should think about upgrading; this will make the experience much better, as it includes additional improvements in features. Interwoven is a robust ECM solution, but takes technical skills to implement and set up. However, when the taxonomies, meta tags, templates, and so on are created, business users have the capability of using Interwoven's solution.

Interwoven has a strong global customer service and support network, and a solid system integrator partner network with companies such as Accenture, Deloitte, BEA Systems, Adobe, and Yash Technologies.

When choosing an ECM solution, users should consider whether the vendor's industry focus matches their own. Interwoven's industry expertise includes financial services, professional services (including legal), retail and consumer packaged goods (CPG), and telecommunications. It does support others, such as government, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare, but they are not its primary focus.

Interwoven's future looks bright, with a focus on more in-depth solutions (for example, with integrations with enterprise resource planning [ERP] applications such as SAP and PeopleSoft, or business intelligence [BI] applications such as Business Objects). The customer experience that Interwoven is capable of providing is an attractive solution for the top 2000 companies.

Users should be cognizant of Interwoven's financial situation, and examine the market trends and the consolidations within this market. When choosing an ECM vendor, it's vital to consider future functionality needs, as well as whether integration to existing back-end systems is possible within the vendor's capabilities and future focus.

 
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