Articles specific to Oracle software products, including the former Stellent product line

Transforming Infoglut! A Pragmatic Strategy For Oracle Enterprise Content Management

As I mentioned after last year's Open World conference, Andy MacMillan and I have been working on a book on Oracle Enterprise Content Management (ECM). I'm pleased to say that it is mostly finished, and it should be available for purchase on January 9, 2009. You can pre-order our book on Amazon right now, if you wish. Note: Amazon's graphic is using the book cover, which contained our old working title... that should be fixed in a few months.

I should be clear... this is not a technical book about content management: its about what we call a pragmatic strategy for managing your content. It is intended for CIOs, CEOs, and project managers so they can understand what ECM is, how its useful, and why it is desperately needed. This strategy entails solutions for existing ECM systems, legacy systems, portal, web applications, and enterprise search. It covers archives, especially email archives, and enterprise wide security beyond the repository. It also covers the retention and destruction of your documents, no matter where they exist within your enterprise.

In the strategy, there are seven steps... but the big three are:

  • Consolidate: Bring as much content as possible into one strategic repository.
  • Federate: Extend content management services to existing tactical repositories, when consolidation is not cost effective.
  • Secure: Make sure your content is secure, no matter where it exists.

Naturally, when we suggest what tools to use to implement the strategy, we lean towards Oracle's suite. However, we feel this strategy is equally applicable to any ECM initiative. We worked hard to ensure that 50% of the book is vendor-agnostic.

I recently put together a list of what is in each chapter, to help folks that might want to skip around in he book.

We took this approach because we wanted to make sure that this book helps align business and IT strategies, therefore it needs to contain some implementation specifics, and not just broad strategic goals. We wanted to say what you need to do, why you need to do it, and how to get started. Most books on ECM only give you the "what", a rare few tell you "why"... and very very few tell you "how".

Business needs the "what" and the "why," and IT needs the "how." After reading this book, everybody on your team will hopefully be speaking the same language...


Open World, Days 3-5

Let' just get all of these out of the way at once... ;-)

I didn't get to see many sessions this week... I spent most of my time up in the OTN lounge in Moscone West, floor 3. That's where most of the Oracle ACE's hung out and met up. Chris Bucchere and I spent a great deal of time hacking together a Ensemble / Stellent demo... I presented it at my Top 10 Ways to Integrate with Oracle ECM was pretty well attended, considering it was the last day of the conference. We were able to take a standard Google search result, and inject Stellent search results in the sidebar! So when you do a Google search, you magically also get back content from your intranet!

That went over pretty well... once I clean up the example, I'll share the code.

My un-conference talk on Wednesday -- Communication for Geeks -- wasn't too well attended... In fact, very few of the un-conference sessions had more than 5 people. I'm not sure why the un-conference wasn't a bigger hit. It might be the lack of awareness, or the wrong crowd... Its easy to get lost at Open World. We might need small, dedicated sessions instead.

I like how MinneBar does it: everything on a wiki, including the RSVP.

As usual, the demo grounds were the best place to learn about new product features... and it was nice to finally meet people face-to-face. The conference is pretty much over, and after this most folks are heading back to Oracle HQ to do some kind of ECM advisory council... then a big wrap-up BBQ for the ECM folks. I'll be attending he latter, but not the former.

so tired... late nights, lots of last-minute work, four speaking engagements, and not enough sleep... but it was worth it!

Open World, Day 2

I had two talks on Monday... one about the Pragmatic Strategy for Enterprise Content Management, and a repeat of my session Enterprise 2.0: How You Will Fail! Overall, they went well, but by the end of the day was exhausted...

In my second talk, I met up with two folks who were recording every event at Open World. Some with just audio and slides, but a lot with video as well. The plan is to put it into a huge, full-text searchable system, so you can scan for keywords of interest... They will give away the "top 10 presentation" for free, but access to all 1700 sessions will rn you about $400.

That would be a lot cheaper than going to the full conference, but I think it would be in Oracle's best interests to just give away all 1700 sessions for free. Sure, maybe the attendance will be down by 10% next year, but so what? Its a massive lead generation tool, and a great way to start honing best practices for emerging Oracle technologies.

Besides, people don't just go to conferences for demos and presentations... customers want human interaction with experts that can give advices on highly specific, personal issues. They also like hanging out and having spontaneous hallway conversations to generate new ideas. I see very few negatives to giving away the conference content for free...

Late night out with the UCM team... not enough time to blog or hone my Thursday talk... but that's Tuesday is for ;-)

Oracle Open World: Day 1

long day...

It started out with the Oracle ACE Director briefing... it was nice to meet all the other ACEs again, and to see what Oracle wanted to tout to all of us... Some of what Oracle presented was an extension of what they said last year... although there was a good amount that surprised and amazed me... but I'm not allowed to say what.

Needless to say, I'm very curious about their next generation of SOA tools...

After that, I listened to a podcast about Alexander Hamilton's economic theories, then snuck down into the Demo Grounds before they were officially open. While down at the demo grounds, I was also politely informed that my "blogger" credentials meant that people were less likely to talk candidly about their products with me, out of fear that it might be documented.

Stupid blogger credentials... all the drawbacks of being a part of the press, but none of the advantages...

I skipped the keynote with crazy Carville and his nutty wife, because it sounded far too political. I enjoy politics, but mixing politics and business is risky, because you will always alienate half of your audience. Its best to just state what everybody can agree to: all politicians are crooks. Then you're home free ;-)

Last, I headed over to the Thirsty Bear for the Oracle Blogger meetup. I hung out with Billy, Jake, Dan, Matt, Marius, David, Woody, and others... commiserating on our "blogger" fate. Dan was kind enough to print up some additional ribbons to attach to our badges. You'll have to look closely this week to see what mine says.

Well, I should get some sleep... I have two presentations tomorrow!

Finishing Up Open World Presentations

Open World Starts Sunday! I've been putting my finishing touches on my presentations, so I haven't had much time to blog... I figured I should remind everybody of my presentation schedule:

  1. Monday 1pm-2pm: Enterprise 2.0, What it is and How You'll Fail, at Moscone West, 3rd Floor Overlooks #1
  2. Monday 4pm-5pm: A Pragmatic Approach to Oracle ECM, at Moscone South, Rm 301, session 299246.
  3. Wednesday 11am-12pm: Communication For Geeks -- How to influence your peers, your boss, and your clients, at Moscone West, 3rd Floor Overlooks #2
  4. Thursday 10:30am-11:30am: Top 10 Ways To Integrate With Oracle ECM, at the Marriott, Golden Gate room C1, session 300043.

The first and third talks are a part of the Open World Unconference. The second talk is one I'm giving with Andy MacMillan about our upcoming book... the last one is based mostly on the talk I gave at IOUG Collaborate 2008, but with a few twists...

I'll be Twittering my location throughout the conference, in case you'd like to meet up. I'll likely be attending mostly ECM talks, or hanging out at one of these places:

See you there!

ECM Standards War: Bye Bye JSR170, Hello CMIS!

I've been wanting to talk about this for a while... but I was under a NDA... but now I can FINALLY tap-dance on the grave of that awful JSR170 standard... and only mere months after Oracle released their adapter. Sorry Dave...

CMS Watch is now reporting the on yet another ECM standard, this one named the Content Management Interoperability Services specification, or CMIS for short. Oracle is a member of the community that is helping design this spec, and I have high hopes for it... unlike the prior ones.

I never liked the JCR specs (JSR 170 and JSR 283). Firstly, the world doesn't need a Java based content management spec. That's just plain stupid. Any spec that by design omits SharePoint will be a non-starter. Also, the whole JCR stuff is an API spec. We don't need an API spec: we need a protocol spec.

That's where CMIS comes it. Its a REST-ful protocol for getting at your data, and changing individual resources... but it also comes with JSON and SOAP fused in there a bit... cuz frankly, we need the extra oomph.

At its heart is the Atom Publishing Protocol. Now... I have some issues with this, because I feel APP isn't robust enough for large scale syndication. There simply is no guarantee of quality of service when you're using "feeds", and polling-based architectures simply don't scale to thousands of enterprise applications. That's the dirty little secret that ReST fanboys don't want you to find out...

Many folks in the open source community have already noticed this, and advocate using the instant messaging protocol XMPP (aka Jabber) to "wrap" restful web services in a bundle. That's the best of both worlds: a simple protocol that's easy to understand, but with a wrapper that can guarantee your published document actually got to where it was supposed to go... Others advocate that enterprises should use a more proven general-purpose messaging protocol like Apache ActiveMQ, instead of the IM-centric Jabber one.

In any case, the CMIS standard is only at version 0.5. Early adopters will notice issues, and the spec will have to evolve to meet the performance and quality concerns... CMIS alone would be great for making lightweight mashups... but I anticipate the ActiveMQ qrapper will become a standard best-practice for heavy duty publishing and syndication.

I promise to have more on this stuff later...

Its Official: Oracle UCM Blogs and Wikis are Supported on 10gr3

In case you missed today's Oracle ECM Quarterly Community Call, you also missed this fun fact:

The Blog and Wiki Samples from Stellent 7.5 are now officially supported in Oracle UCM 10gr3! Details are sketchy, but in theory the new versions will be available for download on the standard OTN page for UCM.

UPDATE: The blogs and wikis are now available on Metalink as patch number 7504090. You may also need patch number 7007799 for Site Studio to make things work properly.

Way back in 2006, I formalized some blog and wiki samples that Andy MacMillan initially sketched out, and Stellent released them to the public with much fanfare... This made us the first major ECM player to support blogs, wikis, and RSS feeds. The buzz was quite surprising...

Unfortunately, I left the company soon afterward, and nobody had time to take over that project, so it languished. They were left as unsupported "samples," that only worked on UCM version 7.5. I had always intended on upgrading those samples to 10gr3 myself -- once I finished writing this dang ECM book -- but I'm even happier that Oracle did it themselves, so that they will be officially supported "Extras."

Oracle tweaked them up a bit to support the new 10gr3 Site Studio Contributor in the wiki... but they left my "inline editor" alone for the blog interface. They'll probably replace my blog editor with the standard Site Studio contributor eventually... or they might just wait until Open WCM is released, and use its inline editor instead.

This of course raises the question, should you use WebCenter or Stellent for blogs/wikis/rss? I hear that question a lot, and unfortunately its usually the wrong question to ask. It's not an either/or question, its a what works best for you kind of question. My advice is this:

  • RSS Feeds: Frankly, every application should support RSS Feeds. They aren't tough to make, and despite massive limitations, they usually add value. Use Stellent if you need content-based RSS feeds. Use WebCenter if you need to generate a feed from an enterprise application that doesn't yet support RSS. Of course, as soon as RSS gets off the ground, everybody will demand Atom feeds... but nevermind.
  • Blogs: When it comes to blogs, WebCenter is meant to be the user interaction layer for blog content, and Stellent is the repository. Of course, Stellent already has a built-in user interaction layer for blogs... its called Site Studio. But again, if you want to display blog content along with data from other enterprise applications, you'll find value with the pre-existing plug ins that WebCenter offers.
  • Wikis: Same as with blogs. WebCenter for user interaction, Stellent for storage. If Stellent's presentation layer is fine with you, then just use that. If you want the wiki displayed in a portal, integrated with data from other systems, then you might find value with WebCenter.

As usual, the archived community calls are available to Oracle customers up on Metalink.

Where are all the Oracle ECM Verticals?

I've been wondering for some time why there aren't more 3rd party vertical applications in the Oracle ECM ecosystem... Other ECM vendors have verticals... legal, health care, technical publications, yadda yadda yadda... but not as many for Oracle... especially from 3rd parties. I've helped three different organizations create hosted solutions that were vertical apps... but very few packaged apps that slap on top of ECM.


I had hoped that after writing my book on developing apps with Oracle Enterprise Content Management, that more folks would be making them. Even if you don't use the built-in UI framework, I had hoped that people would us its Service-Oriented Architecture to support some kind of industry-specific web application. I know of several Oracle partners who have industry-specific experience, and could make a killer app for those industries, but choose not to.


Maybe its because the folks who know the Oracle ECM APIs the best are small firms, and making a vertical is a bit risky. Also, as Ken Jorrison always reminds me people who buy enterprise software place a HUGE premium on support, so any such initiative would need a solid 24x7 support infrastructure. Couple that with the fact that Stellent talent is hard to find, and there's a lot of work out there... so the best short-term business decision would be to go after the consulting dollars...

Do you work for a company that sells a pre-packaged Stellent vertical application? If so, leave a comment here... I'd like to hear about them.

Do it in Under 300 Milliseconds, or You Are Painfully Slow!

I'm working on a pet theory about "slowness" in user interfaces... triggered in part because of issues in a new-ish Oracle product that shall remain nameless...

I'm sure other UI gurus have noticed this before, but when you are clicking buttons or other UI tasks, and it takes longer than about half a second, you will perceive it to be "slow." Why? Who knows! Is it a hard and fast rule? Or just an approximation? I think the root of this answer lies in neurobiology...

I recently devoured the book The Brain That Changes Itself. Highly recommended... It contains some amazing stories about a phenomenon called Neuoplasticity, or essentially the brain's amazing ability to re-wire itself. They told many stories about people with learning disabilities, strokes, cerebral palsy, autism, or even blindness, and how these people "rewired" their brains to heal themselves!

In one section about amputees, they mentioned that it takes 300 milliseconds for a brain signal to reach the hand. That made me think... I wonder if there is a co-relation with that number, and the threshold for when people get annoyed with "slow" computers? Maybe your brain "thinks" that the computer is actually a part of your body, and if it doesn't respond in 300 milliseconds, you get the feeling that something is wrong?

In a section about pain, they emphasized the fact that your brain doesn't "know" where your body ends and the world begins. For example, you can perform the following experiment to prove it to yourself:

  • Place your right arm on a table, behind a screen so you can't see it.
  • Place a fake rubber arm in front of the screen, aligned with your arm, and so you can see it.
  • Have an assistant gently stroke both the rubber arm and your arm in the same way for a few minutes.
  • Next, have them just stroke the rubber arm.
  • Your brain will actually "feel" your arm being stroked when you see the rubber arm being stroked!

This doesn't just work with rubber arms... it also works if you just stroke the table in front of you! Doctors have used similar kinds of trickery to cure amputees of phantom pain that they "feel" in their amputated limbs. Chronic muscle pain might have similar roots, but they didn't go into it much.

Anyway, since the brain doesn't "know" where the body ends, it probably reacts as if the computer is a part of your body. In other words, if your brain wants to make the computer do something, and you don't get feedback within 300 milliseconds, it might trigger some anxiety because it "thinks" something is wrong with your body! It doesn't know that its just a computer... your brain is probably wired to trigger genuine anxiety when your computer doesn't behave as naturally as your hand! In this case, something should happen in under 300 milliseconds.

In practice, this means many things for better user interface design... but at the very minimum it means that computers should give feedback at least every 300 milliseconds. If something can be done in under 300 milliseconds, then it always should. If not, then you absolutely must give some kind of feedback that stuff is happening: a spinning wheel, a progress bar, maybe dancing frogs.

Either way, 300 milliseconds is a pretty good rule of thumb to ensure your users avoid feeling anxious and ill while using your products...

The Origin of "Bex"

A lot of people ask me, "where did you get the nickname 'BEX'?" Well, it all started about three million years in the future.

Let me explain...

I always was a big fan of British comedy... about fifteen years ago I came across an odd sci-fi British comedy called Red Dwarf that I particularly enjoyed. It mostly took place in the distant future, and it has quite the cult following, even today. In one episode, the main character Dave Lister mentioned that his sports hero was a chap named Jim Bexley Speed. He liked him so much he named one of his sons "Jim," and the other "Bexley."

I thought... Bexley, that's a pretty interesting name...

So, I started using it as a pseudonym. I shortened it to "Bex" and started using it as one of my internet nicknames... along with more unusual ones like Grin, Slosh, and Thudwallow. Naturally, back then nobody called me Mr. Bex any more than they called me Mr. Thudwallow...

Anyway, one year I was in college, there were too many Brians in my dorm. There were like 5 in a group of about 50. My dormmates decided I needed a nickname. One of the geekier ones asked me for my IRC handle, and I said "Bex." They liked it, so it stuck. It didn't hurt that my favorite beer at the time was Beck's Dark, although it did lead to some debate over the proper spelling of my new nickname...

After I left the dorm the following year, nobody called me "Bex." Apparently outside of my dorm, the ratio of Brians to non-Brians was at an acceptable level.

A few years later, I started working at Stellent... this was about 8 years before it was acquired by Oracle. Once again, there were too many Brians. I believe there were 4 in the company of about 100... include two in my 6-person dev team! Just like before, they asked for my handle... and I replied "Bex."

They liked it... so it stuck. I eventually used it as my email address (, I put it on my name plate for my cube, even on my business cards.

It probably would have remained a Stellent-only nickname, however I spent so much time building the Stellent community -- including moderating user groups, writing 2 books, and numerous conference presentations -- that the name recognition started to grow. More people knew me as "Bex" than knew me as "Brian."

So... now I use it or a variation whenever I can:

And now I never have to concern myself with the ratio of Brians to non-Brians ever again...

Oracle Community Call For ECM

In case you didn't get the invite, Oracle's quarterly ECM community seminar is in about three weeks...

Americas / EMEA time zones: Customer Update
September 10, 2008
9:00am US PDT / 12:00pm US EDT / 16:00 GMT

You can register early... and just like last time, this is for Oracle customers and select partners only... There's a repeat webcast for Asia-Pacific at 7pm US Pacific time (12:00pm Sydney AEST, 10:00am Singapore).

If you missed the previous ones, they're up on Metalink. The last one covered how to find Stellent resources in Metalink... as well as Universal Online Archive, Captovation, what's going on with Verity, important patches, and general news items.

Put it on your calendar now!

Forget "Knowledge Management", Focus on "Context Management"

I was always bugged with the buzzword "Knowledge Management." Not because it is a buzzword... but because it appears to NOT be a buzzword. A buzzword should either be really concrete, or vague enough to lead to questions -- like "Enterprise 2.0." Instead, "Knowledge Management" is somewhere in the middle, and sounds like annoying advice:

  • The key to getting rich is making more money!
  • The key to winning races is going faster!
  • The key to a smarter enterprise is managing your knowledge!

As such, I feel that the very phrase "Knowledge Management" might have led people to ask the wrong questions, and implement the wrong solutions... I think Chuck Klein down here in Albuquerque said it best:

We don't need "Knowledge Management." We need knowledge capture and context management.

That puts it pretty well... the goal is to capture as much knowledge as you can, and store it safely and securely. At the same time, you need to constantly gather more and more context, so you know what information to get to which people, and when. Information without context is worse than useless: its merely clutter that wastes everyone's time.

Too many projects lose focus on the context management problem... some of the easy questions revolve around things like metadata and keywords, but that is rapidly becoming insufficient. As the amount of information you manage gets larger and larger, you need to ask a lot of hard questions before you can maximize the value of your system:

  • Who is the intended audience for this item?
  • Where does this item fit in my taxonomy?
  • If people like this document, what related items would they like?
  • How would people find this item, if your search engine did not exist?
  • Under what conditions should we archive this item to reduce clutter?
  • Under what conditions should we destroy this item to save storage space, and mitigate risk?
  • Who is the current user?
  • Where is this user, and how are they accessing the system?
  • What is the user's search, download, and feedback history?
  • What is the most effortless way to gather feedback from this user?
  • Based on this user's past behavior, what information are they likely to want next?

Some good Knowledge Management folks already ask these kinds of questions... but I feel that not enough clients understand what kinds of questions to ask. If we used more specific terminology -- like context management -- it gets people thinking about the problem in a very concrete way... and I feel would lead to better implementations.

Damien Katz Come Out Swinging Against REST

I'm never been a huge fan of REST... Its advocates bash SOAP for being too complex -- which I agree with -- but then they make all kinds of bizarre claims to shame people into dropping SOAP entirely. I've heard my own fair share of nonsensical pro-REST rants, including:

  • The web is REST, therefore REST is as awesome as the web!
  • HTTP POST is evil, but GET, PUT, HEAD and DELETE are awesome!
  • Create/Read/Update/Delete is all you ever need!
  • URL parameters before the "?" are okie kosher, but after the "?" they are evil!
  • SOAP's superior security model is irrelevant; HTTPS and basic auth is all people need!
  • Simplifying SOAP is not an option! We must scrap the whole thing!
  • HTTP is perfect! PERFECT I SAY! There is never a need to tunnel data through it!

Personally, I'm a fan of using HTTP POST with SOAP formatted data in order to alter resources (create, edit, delete, move). If all you want is to read data, then your system should support SOAP based responses to a standard HTTP GET request on a URL. It solves most of the complexity problems that people complain about, without ditching your SOAP infrastructure. Also, it allows you to use the exact same API for both your web interface, and your developer API.

Oddly enough, this is exactly how the Stellent server works ;-)

Anyway, recently tech geek Damien Katz -- the inventor of the RESTful database CouchDB -- has recently come out swinging against the pro-REST non-sense:

Sam Ruby claims Katz is fighting straw men... but I'm not sure Sam's argument holds water. Katz is simply calling bullshit on the #1 claim of most REST fanboys. Sam can't have it both ways: he can't benefit from his rabid fan base, and not publicly shame them for their falsehoods. If Katz is fighting a straw man, then Ruby should make it clear to his minions that the #1 claim they use to push REST is totally false.

Then... THEN we can see if the other benefits justify scrapping SOAP... or using REST instead of something with a less fanatical fan base.

Six Weeks Till Open World...

Just six weeks until Oracle Open World 2008. I anticipate chaos. Fun and learning, yes, but also chaos...

I used their online schedule builder to sift through the 1700 sessions they were offering, and built a personal calendar... from a usability perspective the schedule builder is very much sub-par, but its vastly better than what they offered last year... I'm mainly focusing on the ECM track, plus a bit about Portals, Mashups, and a little bit of the WebCenter stuff.

I'm giving four talks this year, two in the general sessions, and two at the associated Open World Unconference... for those who aren't aware, an unconference is the technology equivalent of "open mic" night. Here's my schedule:

  • Monday 1pm-2pm: Enterprise 2.0, What it is and How You'll Fail, at Moscone West, 3rd Floor Overlooks #1
  • Monday 4pm-5pm: A Pragmatic Approach to Oracle ECM, at Moscone South, Rm 301, session 299246.
  • Wednesday 11am-12pm: Communication For Geeks -- How to influence your peers, your boss, and your clients, at Moscone West, 3rd Floor Overlooks #2
  • Thursday 10:30am-11:30am: Top 10 Ways To Integrate With Oracle ECM, at the Marriott, Golden Gate room C1, session 300043.

The first talk is essentially what I gave last week at the Enterprise 2.0 kickoff. The second one is mostly based on my upcoming book. The third is a repeat of the talk I gave at the MinneBar Unconference a few months back. The last one is a new twist on my "50 Ways to Integrate With UCM" talk.

Besides the sessions, there are also a handful of places to just "hang out," recharge your laptops, and escape the bustle:

Even tho Twitter ticked me off big time a while back, I'll probably be using it at this conference to keep track of folks, and let folks find me. Follow me on either Twitter or FriendFeed if you want to meet up at Open World.

Enterprise 2.0 Rant Available For All

Well, the reviews are in on my Enterprise 2.0 talk... and it was pretty well received.

...perhaps best of all, a deadpan delivery of "Enterprise 2.0: How You Will Fail" from the illustrious Bex Huff (an Oracle ACE Director). The latter was a source for some particularly good quotes, such as my favorite: "Where there is lack of shared purpose, information sharing leads to chaos." Amen, my friend.

Unfortunately, I was out of the room when they decided to do the schedule, so I went dead last at the end of the day. Serves me right for trying to network with Ajay Gandhi and Joe Strada. The audience dwindled a bit, but they seemed awake enough to get some value out of my talk.

In any event, I put the presentation up on Slideshare, and embedded it below. The viewer is kind of busted, so you might want to download it as well.

Unlike the other speakers, my goal was to reign in the excitement and buzz around Enterprise 2.0. I believe there is massive value in a company-wide E 2.0 initiative, but there will be equally massive stumbling blocks! Is your culture ready for it? Probably not. Almost certainly not. Therefore, you'll have to fail a few times before you'll see measurable value.

The only hope in getting value out of E 2.0 is by keeping an eye out for failures. Expect them! Embrace them! Experiment a little, and try new things anyway! Any Enterprise 2.0 initiative that cannot adjust in the face of massive failure will just be a waste of money. Its not just about the technology; Enterprise 2.0 is really about creating a culture of entrepreneurialism. You need this culture before you can find enterprise-wide value in E 2.0 tools.

Good E 2.0 initiatives are about tools that guide the creation of this culture, and are not just about getting everybody on the latest Web 2.0 gizmo. If your E 2.0 initiative revolves around getting everybody blogging, then you're just replacing email overload with blog overload... or wiki overload... or social software overload... or Twitter overload... Pick your poison. Departments with a good culture will find immediate value; others will find zero, or even negative value! You'll be spinning your wheels, but you wont be going anywhere.

I hope to give this talk again at the Open World unconference... Justin said that he'll be sending out an email blast so we can get registered on the wiki. That will make it 3 talks this year at Open World... see you there!

UPDATE: I'll be giving it at 1pm on Monday, Sept 22 at the Open World unconference. It will be at Moscone West 3rd Floor Overlooks, in case you'd like to see it live. I might change that time, if there's a lot of other stuff I'd like to see at that time, but I want to get it out of the way so I can enjoy the rest of the conference...

Cuil thinks I'm old...

So, following in the steps of other Minneapolis bloggers, I decided to try out the new hot search engine, Cuil. It bills itself as a "Google killer," and claims to already have a search index larger than Google itself.

that's pretty big talk...

Naturally, I started out with a vanity search, Brian "Bex" Huff, and I was a tad surprised with the results...

Just for the record, no, I'm not some angry 60-year-old dude. That is, unless Cuil is such an amazing search engine that it's indexing content from the future. Stupid Cuil...

Oracle Open World Around The Corner...

Oracle Open World starts September 21st... That's just 2 months away! Woot! Goosebumps, I tell you.

The conference last year was a bit chaotic for me... when I'm presenting, I never feel like I have enough time... And with 60,000 attendees, it can get a little crazy. This year will probably be similar. I'm doing a variation on my introduction to integrating with Stellent talk, because it was one of the top ten talks at Collaborate 08 a few months back. Nice... The IOUG folks were kind enough to score a spot for me, and I'm gonna soup up the talk a bit. Andy and I will probably also giving an ECM business-strategy presentation that aligns with our upcoming book.

Then I can relax!

I haven't looked at too many of the other presentation yet, but the ones that won Jake's "pick a session" contest on Oracle Mix all look good. I'm glad to see that Dan Norris will be presenting on how to be an Oracle ACE... also, Lonneke Dikmans will be presenting a shootout between Oracle WebCenter and BEA Weblogic.

I'm sure that last one will be hyper political...

Its also good to see Eric Marcoux presenting on a comparison between Oracle Portal, Oracle WebCenter, and Stellent... its nice to see a Stellent presentation make the top 25. Although it will be tough to give a decent comparison of all 4 Oracle Portal Products PLUS Stellent in one talk... Good luck to Eric.

Your turn: are you going to Open World? If so, what would you like to see?

Enterprise 2.0: What It Is, and How You'll Fail

A few days ago Justin asked me if I would like to give a presentation at Oracle's Enterprise 2.0 Bootcamp on July 28th... I said sure, but only if I get to be controversial.

Hopefully this topic will be controversial enough!

UPDATE: the presentation went over quite well... and I've posted it online if you want to take a peek.

I've heard a lot of buzz about Enterprise 2.0 lately... and lots of Enterprise Content Management folks (including Newton, Pie, and Billy) still seem to be frustrated by the general lack of a coherent definition of what exactly is Enterprise 2.0? Frankly, I think the very act of defining Enterprise 2.0 defeats the whole purpose, but I appreciate that some people need guidance...

The world is filled with "thought leaders" trying to railroad people into a narrow definition that is properly aligned with their own technology and ego... Some say E 2.0 is just Web 2.0 for the enterprise. Some say its emerging enterprise architectures (SOA, ESB, CEP, IdM) that make services easier to govern and re-use. Others -- like the lame-os at Wikipedia -- say its nothing more than enterprise social software. Others say its just the Knowledge Management Beast rearing its ugly head yet again...

triple ish on that last one...

In my upcoming book, I spend a chapter on how Enterprise Content Management fits in with Enterprise 2.0... and after swimming in blogs for the past year I think I have synthesized an approximate definition that might make everybody happy:

Enterprise 2.0 is an emerging social and technical movement towards helping your business practices evolve. At its heart, its goals are to empower the right kind of change by connecting decision makers to information, to services and to people.

Swish! Leave a comment and tell me what you think... Hot or not?

Its vital to understand that E 2.0 is still a moving target... we know that the enterprise is changing radically, but we don't have enough hard data to say what its changing into. However, I feel its just the latest leap in the neverending goal to make information and services more re-usable.

As an added twist, E 2.0 also has at its core the goal of connecting people with each other in order to discover the tremendous value that exists outside "the process." If the purpose of process is efficiency, then why do so many people in enterprises complain that their process is horribly inefficient? It might be because your process just plain sucks, or it might be because the process is keeping you from changing something that has drastic side-effects outside your view of the company. The point is not to mock or destroy "the process," but to help processes evolve at the optimal rate. This is not possible unless all decision makers can see first-hand how their changes negatively affect other departments. This cannot be done with metrics alone: you need friendly hallway conversations between people who normally would hate each other.

Unfortunately, after coming up with that definition I was staring point blank at something a little unsettling... If people focus on the wrong things, Enterprise 2.0 will FAIL HORRIBLY the same way Knowledge Management FAILED HORRIBLY! For those who forget, Knowledge Management was some snake oil sold 20 years ago saying that access to information was the #1 problem... its not. The problem is access to the right information at the right time in the right format. My industry -- Enterprise Content Management -- emerged from the ashes of Knowledge Management, trying to implement the few good ideas that it offered.

So... how did Knowledge Management fail? What implications does this have for the failure of Enterprise 2.0? I'm no psychic, but I anticipate that people might make similar mistakes... it all boils down to one problem: you're probably focussing on the wrong thing! How could you fail? Here's five ways:

The Lotus Notes "But Bull Duck"

After yesterday's post on how the best analogy for software design is gene splicing, Michelle pointed me to perhaps one of the saddest marketing ideas ever... The Lotus Notes "But Bull Duck", brought to you by the kind folks at IBM.

I am NOT making this up.

For some reason that I can only attribute to a prolonged lack of fiber, the Lotus folks at IBM decided to put together an online ad campaign about how wonderful Lotus Notes 8 is... Hosted at, it allows you to design your own unholy cross-breeds of different animals, and save them to your desktop... each has a different name when you download it. My favorite? The "But Bull Duck".

Apparently the new motto is unify and simplify.

Ummmm... I'm all for unification and simplicity... and I do appreciate the idea that the best analogy for software design is gene splicing... but comparing Lotus Notes to the "But Bull Duck" might not be the best way to get new customers... nor is it the best way to demonstrate to your existing customer base that its time to upgrade. In all likelihood, the "But Bull Duck" will make them think your software is awkward and bizarre.

Viral marketing, or truth in advertising? You choose.

Oracle BEA Webcast Liveblog...

Oracle will be doing a webcast on the BEA acquisition in about 30 minutes... finally telling the market what their plans are for integration of the 2 middleware stacks.

As I said before, from an ECM perspective, we couldn't have been happier about the BEA acquisition. I always preferred the WebLogic stack, and the Plumtree/Aqualogic folks always had some cool technology (even if it didn't always conform to "standards").

I got a bit of an early preview from other Oracle ACEs, but now we'll be able to talk about it. I'll be updating this page every few minutes with my thoughts.

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