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Asides

Open Text Content Day UK 2009 Review


Introduction

I missed the UK Community Day last year (due to a clash with a holiday in Croatia) so this year I made a commitment to go to as many of the Web Solutions Management Server (previously RedDot CMS) conferences as possible (without leaving the UK that is.) Apart from keeping up-to-date and networking, I was also wanted to determine whether I would be coming back next year :)

So on Thursday, April 23rd 2009 I was at Twickenham Stadium for the Open Text Content Day UK 2009 – the first of three conferences I plan to attend this year (the other two being the 4th European RedDot Usergroup Conference and the UK Web Solutions Community Day 2009.)

The day was broken up into the initial keynote address(es) followed by six breakout sessions with choices from across eight tracks, interspersed with refreshments and lunch. To let you know where I am coming from, I am a Web Solutions Management Server developer – pretty much the coal face (development wise) of only one of a plethora of Open Text products. Consequently, I did not have high expectations for the day – I did not expect anything technical from the keynotes and out of 47 sessions, I think I had only managed to identify two that appeared Web Solutions Management Server specific.

Keynotes

I am usually quite wary of keynote addresses from large companies but I was not disappointed by Open Text. Open Text’s commitment this year to research, development and education is impressive. Their understanding of the Internet, past, present and particularly future (its social media, video and keyboard-less interfaces) was scarily more forward thinking than I would have expected – making me question whether I am even keeping up – or worse, slowly falling behind. Being classified as part of the “keyboard” generation left me wondering whether Steve Jobs is shaking his head at me because I am excited that I will finally have cut and paste on my iPhone soon… Open Text’s vision for their product suite was equally impressive – standing on their own to meet specific needs or working seamlessly together to solve any business requirement.

It is interesting that Open Text appears to get the speed at which ideas happen on the Internet and the necessity for safe and secure products to make the most of these ideas. How they plan to implement these products in a timely manner, however, was unclear. But this is all the strategic vision, and Open Text was open about the fact that they aren’t there yet. Obviously I can’t speak for all of their products – but in my opinion they have a long way to go with Web Solutions Management Server to bring it up to the quality, integration and vision presented in the keynotes. I will believe it when I see it – and I wish Open Text the best of luck with that.

Breakout Sessions

Obviously I couldn’t attend all of the breakout sessions – so perhaps Paul might add a bit about those sessions he went to that I didn’t – so here is a run down of what I attended (you can check the details on the agenda):

Rise of the ECM Architect (ECM Champion Track)
I went to this more out of personal interest than anything else. The panel format was useful in providing a rounded picture and discussion of the ECM Architect role as each panellist had something unique to share coming from different backgrounds and companies. It was a bit dry, and as a double session was let down a little by people leaving in the middle to go to a different session. I did think of a great feature for my own CMS aspirations in this session though.

ECM: Improve your ROI, by focusing on people and process, and not just Technology (Partner Track)
After this I realised that ECM = LiveLink, not Web Solutions Management Server and the Partner Track was basically an opportunity for Open Text partners to pitch themselves and their products and/or services. :) While interesting, I didn’t learn anything new.

Case Study – HM Treasury (Public Sector Track)
Did you know the HM Treasury uses Web Solutions Management Server? Unfortunately this was a very high level session. This was more disappointing as it ended up being the only Web Solutions Management Server session – as the other one was cancelled. Still there were some interesting points:

  • The task was simply a migration from an existing web site to Web Solutions Management Server, including all content (8k-10k pages) – completed within 12 weeks.
  • All content was transferred manually – basically they threw bodies at it.
  • The ability of Web Solutions Management Server to publish out via FTP to an independent web server was critical to ensure information was secure in the CMS prior to publication.
  • The challenge of training on the actual web site prior to go live – when the build is not yet complete. (Why do they even need training? Its not like people need training to use FaceBook or Twitter…)

Enterprise 2.0 – Enabling the Social Workplace (ECM Champion Track)
Although this session was focussed on social media for the enterprise, the example was the STA Travel site (which is a Web Solutions Management/Delivery Server site). However, again, this session was high level and didn’t go into any technical details.

What can you do to protect your Open Text investment while reducing cost? (Partner Track)
I soon realised this was another Partner presentation, and for products to assist with eDOCS – which I have no experience with. However, what I found interesting was what the products *did* – basically adding reporting and auditing functionality and synchronisation capabilities across multiple libraries to an Open Text product with limited inbuilt functionality – if the functionality existed at all. Sound familiar? How cool would it be to be able to install a Web Solutions Management Server plug-in that allowed you to:

  • Synchronise projects across servers (development and production for example) whereby the authorisations are also synchronised (by synchronising users and groups by name rather than guid)
  • Update content classes *including* element attributes?
  • Advanced reporting – Diff tool for content classes anyone?

Partner Exhibitors & Open Text Solution Pods

I didn’t make too much use of these other than to pick up some free education vouchers from AIIM and to visit the Open Text Web Solutions pod – which was manned by the sales team. The sales guy was very enthusiastic, even with the slowness of running all of his demos at the same time in individual virtual machines on an overworked laptop. I didn’t feel I could get much of a word in edgewise and so was left to amuse myself with the implementation issues I know all to well that he was happy to gloss either over or right past. I guess on the upside it keeps me in a job!

Venue & Catering

The venue and catering were fine. Paul and I took the train from Reading, with the only mishap being it stopping at Whitton, not Twickenham (or maybe in addition to?) which made the walk longer than we expected and our return journey problematic – but nothing to do with Open Text :)

Stuff

A small Open Text / Microsoft / SAP branded netbook bag (I think) containing a pad, advertising and various parenphenalia. Two biros (Open Text & Steria). CD (Open Text eLearning demonstration). USB key (PDFs of various books).

Conclusion

In all, much better than I had expected. I think it is important to weigh up the merits of attending versus how many Open Text products you actually use, however the day is free and I do think I will be making the effort again next year. Personally, I am looking forward to the UK Web Solutions Community Day 2009 which should be more focused on the Open Text product I do use.

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About the author:

Adrian Mateljan Adrian Mateljan lives in Reading, United Kingdom but is actually an Australian hailing from Perth, Western Australia. Currently contracting in London specialising in RedDot CMS.

Discussion

3 comments for “Open Text Content Day UK 2009 Review”

  1. “Obviously I can’t speak for all of their products – but in my opinion … I wish Open Text the best of luck with that.” – Nice sentence.
    Can you add some details on what their technical goals and timelines are for this year?

    Posted by Markus Giesen | April 27, 2009, 2:20 am
  2. Not really – the keynotes were quite high level (strategic), at best I got the impression that they will be focusing on integrating all of their disparate acquired products into one integrated suite. Some of the breakout sessions gave product roadmaps, but none specifically for Web Solutions Managment Server and definitely none that I attended :) Paul may have more to add though…

    Posted by Adrian Mateljan | April 27, 2009, 9:59 am
  3. I can’t add too much more I’m afraid. I spent most of the day either networking or in lectures about their recently acquired DAM (Digital Asset Management), Artesia. That certainly looks like the next version (end of this year) will be impressive, but at £60K I would hope so. Artesia can be integrated into the Web Solutions Management Server, replacing the current asset manager, giving you a much nicer interface and a much more robust, scalable solution.

    The only other thing I attended was the Marketplace version of the Social Workplace presentation that Adrian attended. It was suitably vague on the details, but what had been done with the STATravel site certainly looked impressive.

    I can’t help wonder quite how many companies have the scope to do all that much with social media though. Or maybe this is just cementing my place in the “keyboard generation” too…

    It was a good day, but could have done with a little bit more on WSMS. I would imagine that is being saved for the Community days in June.

    Posted by Paul Smith | April 27, 2009, 4:54 pm

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