FileNet is trying to encourage the industry to adopt a new document management standard which would create interoperability among document repositories. But the company is facing a number of obstacles, as not everyone in the document management market is in agreement with FileNet over the Document Management Alliance (DMA) standard.
PC Week recently caught up with Ted Smith, the company's CEO, and Chuck Fay, a FileNet engineer and chairman of the DMA Technical Committee, to discuss the problem and talk about the role of standards in an industry that is becoming more web focused.
PC Week: Can you expound on FileNet's recent acquisitions?
Smith: We have acquired WaterMark Software, which was the premier supplier of imaging. And we acquired Saros Software, which was one of the leading electronic document management suppliers.
PC Week: It would seem like a real challenge for FileNet to make all of your disparate systems work together right now.
Smith: The most significant capability in that regard is the availability of software for organisations that use both our large-scale imaging systems and our electronic document management software.
PC Week: You are one of the driving forces behind the DMA.
Smith: CIOs are telling me that there are lots of applications in the organisation beyond the mission-critical ones that people have wanted to install, including various types of document management systems. And they're reluctant to give their blessing to that, because there's no overall architecture or framework for the future that would enable them to access all these systems from different parts of the organisation.
PC Week: But vendors seem to be wondering what is in it for them.
Smith: Every year we get forecasts of huge growth rates. And, by now, the business should have been $5 billion (u3.1 billion) per year ... and it's less than $2 billion. think it's obvious to everybody in the industry, on the customer side as well as the vendor side, that there's still a huge opportunity that's been untapped. The lack of standards has been a major factor.
PC Week: How do you explain the reticence, then?
Smith: Maybe they haven't been at it long enough, maybe they don't have the big picture that we've been able to garner as a result of the large customer base.
PC Week: Some of the other vendors believe DMA will be difficult and costly to implement in their own systems.
Fay: I think there is a misconception about the difficulty of implementing a system that is compliant with DMA, or implementing clients that comply with DMA.
PC Week: It sounds like there's a lot of overlap between WebDAV (Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning) and DMA, and, in fact, WebDAV could be easier to implement because it's based on Internet standards. Describe the differences between DMA and WebDAV. It certainly seems like you are taking a DMA approach.
Fay: WebDAV is focused on allowing distributed Web authoring tools, such as Microsoft's FrontPage or other authoring tools to have access in a common way to content on the Internet or intranet, and, specifically, to allow the creation of content and the storage of that on web servers in a common and standard way. DMA would certainly support what WebDAV is trying to do and more.
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