Update from an ex-Analyst

I’ve gotten a number of messages from friends and people I know in technology through LinkedIn, gmail, Facebook, etc..  The top question I’m asked is “why did you leave Gartner?” and the second is “what’s so special about Litéra?”

Here is my response.

The principle reason I left Gartner to join Litéra was a chance to learn how to run (and grow) a software business. The opportunity to be mentored by the CEO/founder – an inventor with tremendous operational experience – was too good to ignore. Though he’s added some products through acquisition, the essential technology set for comparisons, collaborative authoring, and metadata cleansing is organic and patent-protected. And, I believe the demand for professional productivity tools and content protections will become stronger – particularly as the risks of mobile device proliferation, file sharing/transfers, cloud-hosted repositories, and increased regulatory pressures become clearer. Just cleaning up the legacy mess of office documents as enterprises transition away from paper and digital proliferation typical of on-premise technologies toward new hybrid architectures and distant users will compel updates to their content strategy.

Ultimately, minding the gap between administrative content and professional content will become a key part of the new strategy, and Litéra has developed a set of “professional services for documents” for regulated or valuable content that I found compelling. I think most executives across several industries could implement these applications easily and gain great advantage with little added cost or difficulty. Legal is the most obvious vertical, but other industries could just as effectively justify an investment toward building stronger deliverables. Right now, Microsoft, Google, and Adobe have mechanisms and methods used by business people to construct important content. Others have resources to protect it in collections. But at the moment it traverses the void toward outsiders, the rules (and risk) change. Outbound content should be prepared to travel. And, so too should it be quarantined when it returns – given how much can change can occur in uncontrolled environments. Document comparison at a granular level is going to become critical.

Even as entire industries – think healthcare and electronic patient files as an example – undergo radical transformation as information becomes broadly accessible, the work that surrounds the information will also change. I think collaborative authoring is key among an enabling set of technologies that could be transformative in the next few years. Though wikis are a good example, they are still limited in the ability to engage professionals in real-time as they drive toward delivery of collaborative content. Contracts, proposals, policies, presentations, and advertisements are all built by highly skilled knowledge workers in a way that seems incredibly stilted in both process and pace compared to what’s possible.

More importantly, guiding the collaboration with embedded policy/procedure will yield better results than the poor version control and ‘overwrite anarchy’ that currently exist in creation through review/approval phases. The system itself can keep comments and contributions from all parties in play without typical problems in selecting and concatenating them. This can help bridge the gap between enterprises and their employees, customers, business partners, and regulators as much as it enables Cloud-hosted content management to fully emerge given mobile applications in professional and trade domains.

It should be obvious that I have enthusiasm for the company and products. We’re already connected to Microsoft and several of the ECM suite vendors. But the partner potential of several Litéra products hasn’t been fully explored, and I intend to reach out to several of my friends to see whether there’s interest in discovering new use cases and markets together.

About Toby Bell

Toby has over 25 years of leadership experience in technology strategy, analysis, development, and delivery. He's managed people, products, projects, and profits equally well. His work history ranges from marketing and communications to software design and development to global consulting to technology research and analysis to business leadership. He has provided strategic advice to many companies; has written a strong body of research; is widely quoted across technology and business media; and has been a keynote speaker for Ernst & Young, Arthur Andersen, Gartner, and their clients. Toby Bell has spent over 30 years as a global technology executive with experience ranging across enterprise technology strategy, analysis, development, and delivery. His perspectives about idealizing the interplay between people and emerging content, analytics, and process technologies stem from a balanced career as an enterprise end-user, industry analyst, and vendor in this evolving marketplace. Toby has provided strategic advice to many companies; has written a strong body of research; is widely quoted across technology and business media; and has been a keynote speaker on behalf of Ernst & Young, Arthur Andersen, Gartner, IBM, AIIM, and their respective clients.
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