Recently I was in Vienna to speak at and meet with end users at the Papyrus Open House, and I confess I learned as much, if not more, than I could share with the attendees. Papyrus is a well-established (35 years) Information Management vendor headquartered in Austria, with clients across a broad spectrum of industries but a robust presence in financial services and insurance.
In talking to the attendees, I was reminded of the virtual echo chamber industry analysts have to be incredibly wary of. The virtual echo chamber refers to the fact that technology vendors and investors alike beat at the doors of analyst firms to tell them of their latest and greatest advances. As you may imagine, in the past six months, such advances have often revolved around the world-changing impact of Generative AI. Suppose these are the only people you are listening to and talking to. In that case, you end up inadvertently, perhaps, echoing back each other’s thoughts and exciting yet unrealistic possibilities. Events such as the one in Vienna provide a counterbalance and one that tips the scales firmly back to reality. Four key themes stood out:
1: The challenge and opportunities of legacy applications
I cannot remember who said it, but I loved this quote from an attendee. “Legacy doesn’t mean old. It may have been around a long time, but may have been updated to the most modern standards. The true legacy is in the underlying structures, knowledge, rules, and data”.
2: The time-consuming work of configuring and automating work activities
Automating a response to a customer inquiry sounds simple, but in highly regulated industries, even relatively simple tasks like this are time-consuming and require much analysis, testing, and configuration. We all tend to underestimate the sheer amount of skilled work that goes into making simple customer and employee experiences work in a simple and easy-to-consumer manner.
3: Real interest in process mining and its potential
Every internal or external IT consultant faces the same challenge. The process steps that management thinks to occur are almost always widely divorced from the messy reality of the workplace. Process mining tools (particularly those that leverage ML & AI) are gaining traction in revealing the truth and in providing empirical evidence of underlying complexity.
4: Curiosity but little genuine interest in Generative AI
Pretty much everyone in the world of IT is aware of GPT and Generative AI; many have a solid understanding of how it works and have been closely following the recent hype cycle. However, few, if any, saw its business value, nor how or why a business case could or would be built to use it in their organizations.
Sobering topics and conversations like these are not specific to Papyrus Software. The same discussions are had with customers of Microsoft, OpenText, Hyland, Box, etc. The practical realities of Information & Automation Management are ubiquitous across the industry. There is certainly interest in innovation and technological advances, a key focus for Deep Analysis. Still, their impact on the market has to be considered and analyzed from a boots-on-the-ground perspective. That’s what we try to do at Deep Analysis, balance the future opportunities with the weight and reality of the present. At times I fear we come across as unduly pessimistic. Still, events and conversations such as these tell me that we should all be more mindful of the hard work, real-world challenges, and ‘legacy’ that is the reality of IT and business globally.
Finally, I thank Ann-Marie (CEO of Papyrus) and her team for inviting me and, quite frankly, setting a high standard for customer events. Online webinars and conferences are a part of our world, but nothing replaces in-person human-to-human interactions. It is how we get to really know one another, understand each other problems, and move forward in harmony. Such events certainly cost a lot more to host, but also, assuming they are done well, they deliver an order of magnitude more value to customers and technology vendors alike.