Welcome to my house: Ed McQuiston on content services at #CommunityLIVE

In many ways, assembling your organization’s ideal IT architecture is like building your dream house. You know, the place where your family and friends can live, grow, and find fulfillment. For the next 30 years.

No pressure.

So, when Ed McQuiston, Hyland’s executive vice president and chief commercial officer, took the stage last week at CommunityLIVE, he drew on his own recent house-building experience to make sense of the concept of content services.

Well, right after he noted that he might have ‘post-traumatic-juggling-disorder.’

“Nearly three years ago,” said McQuiston, “I got all wrapped up in the question of who we are as a company and what we do. I was frustrated about being pigeonholed by industry terminology and specifically, with the term enterprise content management.”

“My frustration came from not only what our products and solutions are capable of,” he continued, “but also from all the conversations I have with you, our customers, who are doing so much more with our solutions than just ECM.”

The evolution of ECM or: Disruption manifesto!

“So I wrote a bit of a manifesto and sent it to Bill Priemer, our President and CEO. It’s called ‘Disrupting the ECM market.’ And in it, I explained that we were not being properly described in the marketplace. The things we are and were doing went far beyond the most liberal and aggressive descriptions of ECM.”

“Thankfully,” said McQuiston, “my personal catharsis didn’t end up as a career-limiting move.”

Jerry Maguire moments aside, we’ve always been a little ahead of the curve. And sometimes, that means we’re out in front of trends.

“And then, earlier this year, Gartner agreed with me,” McQuiston continued. “… OK, that’s a stretch. Gartner didn’t know about my manifesto. But there was broad recognition that ECM is a category that has outlived its usefulness.”

Gartner now believes ECM is dead, at least in terms of the way it defines the market. It now uses the term content services – a strategic concept that covers content services applications, platforms, and components.

“So I was excited,” said McQuiston. “This whole idea of content services is exactly what Hyland has been delivering to our customers for a while now. And as you heard from Brenda Kirk yesterday, our journey to Mars just expands on that vision.”

Then McQuiston realized there was a downside. After all, ECM was relatively easy to explain.

“But now there’s this new term to explain. So I thought I would try explaining it to someone who has never heard of ECM. I started thinking about the word ‘services,’ the linchpin of this concept. Services is defined as a system supplying a public need such as transport, communications or utility and water.”

This is where the ‘building your dream house’ analogy really … hit home.

(See what I did there?)

“This is the plot of land we bought about a year-and-a-half ago. It looked like this when I showed it to my family, and they said ‘yes’ anyway. Now you know why I run our sales department.”

“So I thought about the essential services I needed for my home,” said McQuiston. “Much like content services, there’s a number of them. The first service I added to my home is the one I take most for granted: Water. I don’t give a lot of thought to the expertise required to get water to my house. It just needs to show up. I turn it on – it’s there. It’s a service we all have. And we don’t think about it until there’s an issue.”

3 types of services

“Like the water we depend on daily, we don’t think about content or where it comes from. It needs to be available when I need it, where I need it, on demand,” said McQuiston. “Thinking about content services led me to think about the house we were building and the services we needed.”

So he came up with three categories that help explain content services:

1. Vital services

“Water is a vital service, but I don’t need to be an engineer to get it to my house. But I do have some expectations – I want my water to be clean before it gets to me,” said McQuiston. “And the pressure has to be right. Too little water pressure means no one can take a shower, too much means it will burst my pipes. Much the same, I want my content to be processed, or clean, before it gets to me. And you can’t have too much content come blasting at you.”

We’ve all been there before. You hit search and a million documents show up. As if you have the time to sort through them all.

“I don’t have high expectations for my water, but if my provider isn’t at least delivering on those expectations, I’ll just switch providers. Water is a commodity; much like how many people think providing content is a commodity. Just like when you turn a faucet on, your content should just show up. When you want access to information, you shouldn’t have to think about how it got there or things like metadata, or taxonomy, file formats, encryption, and security. That’s the job of the content services provider.”

“I need to be able to easily get to the one piece of content I need” McQuiston continued. “And I’d like to not only automate the capture of that information, but I’d like to leverage my systems of record to make sure that what I’ve captured is validated.”

And that, my friends, is the key. What happens before the water gets into the glass is important. Using tools like intelligent capture, your organization can automate the lifting of data off invoices and other document types and validate it against third-party systems like SAP or Oracle. You can also have that content delivered via your content services system to the people who need it, when they need it – processed and at the right pressure.

“I travel a lot,” McQuiston noted. “So not only do I want to access that processed content, I want to do so via a mobile device. I want to use my phone to access information, interact with workflows, and upload new documentation. Now I have content at the right pressure while on-the-go.”

“A key part of content services is the analytics that give you insight into your content, processes, and cases. These analytics give you insight into things you never understood before: What are average turn-around times? Are we hitting SLAs? Do we need to load balance? So yes, in certain respects water is just a commodity, but there are certain expectations about what happens to it before it gets to us.”

And the cleaner, the better. Or, in the content services case, the more processed and verified for accuracy, the better.

2. Other essential services

McQuiston then talked about the other essential services we expect to work: Gas, electricity, and the internet, for example. We don’t want to think about them, we just expect them to work.

“Like all the other services that I assume come with my house – garbage pickup, mail, and sewage removal – putting them all together on a list shows you that the word ‘content’ is a bit limiting,” said McQuiston. “As a provider, we need to deliver all the services you expect: Content, case management, BPM, intelligent capture, collaboration, search, analytics, rich media, and records management, to name a few.”

It’s a long list, but we’ve got it covered.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about customer experience. In support of that, we hear more and more about digital transformation initiatives – to enable organizations to achieve the kind of experiences customers want,” said McQuiston.

To do this, you need to be agile and nimble. And you need to provide customer interactions through the web and mobile devices. These are paramount to an excellent customer experience, because that’s what consumers now expect.

“And content services are a key component to a digital transformation strategy, which improves your customer experience. This is where a single provider can make the difference,” McQuiston said. “When there’s overlap in infrastructure and expertise, there’s the opportunity to use that one provider. You save money on overlapping infrastructure and superfluous vendors.”

Of course, tools are nice, but solutions are better.

“Things have changed. Now when we go out to visit customers, they ask, ‘What are our peers doing? What can I leverage that you’ve already built,’” said McQuiston. “Part of the content services discussion is to get beyond simple tools and offer ready-made applications our customers can use to enhance their customer experiences, whether that’s a patient, student, constituent, member, insured, or even another vendor.”

And as they say, more is less.

3. Extra lifestyle services

For the last service type, McQuiston went back home. As an example, he talked about how – in his new home that is now finished – he has lights that blink his football team’s colors when they score a touchdown. That has ‘lifestyle’ written all over it. In caps.

“Our customers have lots of ideas that we haven’t even considered. Now, OnBase users are building new apps every day. Before, you could only build them to be used on desktops or the web. Now, with OnBase 17, you can extend Workview apps via mobile,” said McQuiston. “Admittedly, it’s not as exciting as the blinking touchdown lights in my basement, but it’s pretty cool.”

This is just the beginning of the endless ways we can extend content services out into the field.

One company, one platform

“So, what is a content services platform? It’s capture, content, process, case management, collaboration, records management, vendor neutral archive, enterprise search, analytics, rich media, and intelligent capture – from a single vendor.”

When these services are all delivered on the same platform, they can begin to share things like taxonomy design, security protocols, mobile applications, and the same records management rules. It’s not only smart and elegant, it saves an incredible amount of time and rids you of numerous vendors and information silos.

“Content is a vital service, but it’s not the only service I need. There are other essential services I must have, and I get tremendous benefit when they come from the same provider,” said McQuiston. “Because ultimately, this is about happy employees accessing content when they need it and where they need it. Improving their productivity and their performance and their effectiveness. Because those happy employees are going to generate happy customer experiences.”

“With my home, the services I benefitted from all added up to a great experience for my family,” McQuiston ended, “much as content services enable your organization, employees, and customers to have great experiences.”

As the novelist George A. Moore said, “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.”

So, whether at work or at home, build your house on the best foundation, with the best services. Your families at both places will thank you.


Scoop Skupien is a former radio station mascot. A rabbit, if you really want to know. These days, he's a content marketing manager at Hyland. The author of three books, he’s been writing about tech at Hyland for more than a decade. His industry certifications include CDIA, ecmp, and an MBA.
Scoop Skupien

Scoop Skupien

Scoop Skupien is a former radio station mascot. A rabbit, if you really want to know. These days, he’s a content marketing manager at Hyland. The author of three books,... read more about: Scoop Skupien