Hyland took the plunge this year to return to an in-person (Nashville, TN) customer event. That decision was not an easy one to make. Many other tech firms have been struggling with the same decision-making process in the wake of the pandemic. But thankfully, it worked out well, and Community Live was well attended. So it was back to the same old conference circuit on the one hand, but with some new themes and discussions.
The Evolution of Hyland
The event was, of course, an opportunity to observe Hyland as a whole. Indeed its been fascinating to watch the company grow over the years into the giant it is today. Twenty years ago, it had less than a hundred employees; today, there are over 5,000. From the epitome of a small midwest software company, the firm now has (via the Alfresco and Nuxeo acquisitions) a foothold outside of North America and continues to grow. Yet to its credit, the mid-west values and culture it radiated in its early days remain at its core. Even so, the next few years will be critical and challenging for Hyland, just as it will be for its long-time competitors. The reality is that the market is changing beyond recognition, long-established borders between process and content management and blurring, new approaches involving AI and Blockchain are on the horizon, and a slew of startups are going beyond the excellent idea stage and landing big customers. Add to all this the renewed and aggressive push by Microsoft back into the sector through a combination of M365, Syntex, SharePoint, and Power Automate.
2022 Market Dynamics
We have come out of the pandemic and arrived in a new place. We are not simply picking up where we left off but assessing where we truly are and where we want to go. Pre-pandemic, the buzzword was Digital Transformation, grand, ambitious, expensive long-term plans to transform. Today, the Digital Transformation buzzword has lost its buzz. The idea of ripping and replacing legacy applications has gone out of the window. Even so, it’s certainly not the end of big audacious goals; instead, it’s the start of walking away from bold and high-risk projects. Big plans remain but are tackled through a series of low-risk baby steps, which leads to the second theme of the week, the shifting role of RPA (robotic process automation). Before the pandemic, RPA was positioned as the answer to significant automation challenges; today, it is seen as a band-aid to fix minor, annoying, high-value problems. Rather than wait for a major integration project to complete, RPA can be used to fix simple issues like duplicate key entry work. It’s where RPA started, and it seems that, for many, it is again its role. In our analysis, that is not bad; calling RPA a band-aid may seem disparaging, but band-aids provide effective short-term healing.
The Event Experience
The week at Community Live was a reminder not just to me but to many I spoke with how tiring travel and events can be. Frankly, I was exhausted by the end of it all. In many ways, it was a case of deja vu, as on the surface, the experience of the event was just the same as past events; it was as if we had just skipped a few years and found ourselves back in the same place. But deeper down, there was a significant shift; it’s just my take on things, but I came away with the impression that this time round, post-pandemic, folks were not just attending; they were more genuinely connecting than in previous years. Maybe it’s just the need for human interaction that we all craved during two years of virtual solitude; perhaps it’s temporary, but hopefully not. I enjoyed my time in Nashville, speaking on stage, engaging in corridor conversations with strangers, meeting old friends, and making friends anew. Industry veterans often joke that Information Automation & Management is like the Hotel California; you can check in any time you like, but you can never leave. Yet the Hotel Calfornia is about to undergo a significant expansion and renovation, and long-time residents like Hyland need to prepare for a shake-up.
If you are a buyer or user of Hyland’s or other vendors’ Information & Automation management tools and wondering how to navigate these difficult times, we have a free – yup, free – confidential advisory service for you. A service that means all you have to do is find a time on our calendar.
If you are a seller of Information & Automation Management technologies then, like many others. In that case, you may reassess your current business, pricing, or go-to-market strategies to adapt to these turbulent times. Again feel free to reach out and chat with us as we may be able to help by providing some critical but constructive advice and support.