ECM Management Shuffles… change ahead?

Experience has taught us never to read too much into senior executive changes at prominent software companies. For sure, when a CEO is replaced, you can expect some change, but legacy software firms are difficult animals to tether. Companies that have come to rely on maintenance revenues can have some great new ideas, a change in leadership, and a new strategy. Still, the reality of the bill-paying maintenance customers acts as hard brakes on significant changes.

However, this year, there have been some big changes at the top of the ECM ladder, for example. 

  • OpenText had a major internal management reshuffle in the summer.
  • Alfresco replaced Bernadette Nixon (hear our podcast with her) with the person that led TH Lee to buy Alfresco, JayBhatt, along with a number of other new senior management appointments in the past year.
  • M-Files  has a new CEO in the form of Antti Nivala, alongside a broader senior management shakeup
  • Box now has an activist investor in the form of Starboard Value
  • Ricoh acquired Docuware and there are now no less than three new Co-Presidents of the company
  • Nuxeo brought in a new SVP of Global Sales in the form of Stephan Van Herck
  • Kofax brought in Tim Battis from Ceridian as EVP of Global Sales
  •  
  • OpenText had a major internal management reshuffle in the summer.
  • Alfresco replaced Bernadette Nixon (here our podcast with her here) with the person that led TH Lee to buy Alfresco, JayBhatt, along with a number of other new senior management appointments in the past year.
  • M-Files  has a new CEO in the form of Antti Nivala, alongside a broader senior management shakeup
  • Box now has an activist investor in the form of Starboard Value
  • Ricoh acquired Docuware and there are now no less than three new Co-Presidents of the company
  • Nuxeo brought in a new SVP of Global Sales in the form of Stephan Van Herck
  • Kofax brought in Tim Battis from Ceridian as EVP of Global Sales  
  • EverTeam said goodbye to Ken Lownie who ran its US operations who left to join Veeva competitor Agatha 

In many regards, ECM has historically been too successful for its own good. Enterprises need Information Management systems; once they have them, they fill them with mountains of data. They then are committed, like it or not, to maintaining those mountains for decades to come. 

But change is on the horizon; buyers are eager to now tackle these information mountains. They want to move to the Cloud, to big-name clouds like AWS or Azure. Others want to leverage AI and ML to unlock the value of the mountains; others still want to leverage Blockchain to reinvent their operations. The reality of all of this, is that big traditional ECM deals are thin on the ground today, though they will never go away entirely. The few there are highly competitive and tough to win. More often, transactions involve one legacy vendor trying to replace another — cue changes at the top.

ECM has been a very lucrative sector for a long time; it remains profitable. But new leaders need to be aware that the old way of working doesn’t work so well anymore. Radical change is required, and that comes with an element of risk. Growth won’t come solely from organic sources, inorganic growth (acquisitions) is needed. However, acquisitions of firms with good (legacy) revenue streams help the next quarter numbers, but they do little to change the long term trajectory. Low revenue, but high impact acquisitions of disruptive technology, and the people with disruptive knowledge and skills are critical to future success and growth. RPA, AI, Voice, & Blockchain may all be overhyped, but they also, in one form or another, represent the future. It is here that the focus should be.

We would love to see some bold moves by the new leaders, aggressive moves into new markets, leveraging disruptive technologies. Something beyond just tinkering with the existing machine. Will we see some aggressive moves? Yes, I think we will, from one or two. But we will also likely see a lot more tinkering and foot-dragging from leaders too concerned about upsetting the apple cart. Change is hard, nobody likes it, but the brave and far-sighted make those changes anyway, 2020 is going to be interesting….. 

Work with us today to ensure you are a disruptor not one of the disrupted! 

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