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Content as Dichotomy

  • October 29 2008, 5:49pm EDT


Joe Cowan




A survivor of the dot-com bubble and the portal/content management experiments of the same era, Interwoven has witnessed many vagaries of the modern software business. A survivor and, today, a "strong positive" in Gartner Inc.'s latest MarketScope for Web content management (WCM), Interwoven pursues dual and separate strategies in WCM and document/records management. A year into the helm, CEO Joe Cowan, a software-industry veteran with a reputation as a "fixer," is settling into a growth curve, as he recently explained to DM Review Editorial Director Jim Ericson.


DMR: How have record and document management vendors seen the rise of Web content management as a different challenge?


Joe Cowan: In our case, we're really two companies, what came out of the old Interwoven and what came from a company we acquired called iManage. iManage is the document management business. It is a totally different product from our Web content business and is sold to a whole different set of customers. But we can talk about both businesses because they both have a tremendous growth opportunity under the Interwoven brand.


DMR: Does that reflect an ongoing disconnect between WCM and the old unified enterprise content management (ECM) model?


JC: [Years ago], the guys at Gartner said there was this thing called ECM, companies are going to want an integrated solution for the Web and so the document side has got to come together with that. They created this thing called ECM, and at one point our company went out and acquired iManage to add the document management piece. But in my world, ECM does not exist.


DMR: I'll let you expand on that last thought.


JC: The concept behind ECM said that whether you're working with the Web or working with your documents, you'll serve everything to your Web content management system because a lot of those documents are going to be used online. There was a time when a Fortune 500 IT department would look for a suite of products to solve the total problem and then hope to build a lot of applications on top of that for their solutions. That's the context. But we really had two distinct businesses - the WCM side, which is focused on marketing, and a separate document management piece that in our case is very focused on professional services.


DMR: I want to focus on WCM, but give us a snapshot of the document management business to clarify the distinction.


JC: On that side of the business, we're working with the biggest law firms, accounting firms and consulting firms; it might be a government agency with a lot of lawyers involved in a regulatory process or it could be a corporate legal department. Those people have unique sets of requirements and some of the most sophisticated document management problems you can imagine. There's an explosion of information hitting their people from many sources, and a tremendous problem brews if you are not good at managing that. For example, lawyers use a term called "matter centricity," which requires that our tool help present a case in intuitive ways to help you organize and manage and file all the relevant information from internal, external and shared sources, including email. Records management is part of our solution, so we provide a strategy for that. If you're an accounting firm, your documents are not Word docs; they tend to be spreadsheets. Across service industries, we offer products that are very focused, as opposed to a toolkit. The main competitor to our iManage products is not [EMC] Documentum, [IBM] FileNet or Stellent [now Oracle], it's Hummingbird.


DMR: Let's get back to WCM, Interwoven TeamSite and the focus on transitioning marketing and sales to the Web.


JC: First of all, your premise is correct. In the old world, everybody needed a Web site, but nobody knew what to do with it. It hasn't taken long to see that the Web site has become the most important marketing tool a business has. For example, one of our clients is one of the top five insurance companies in the U.S., and they spend most of their advertising dollars on the Web. Today, two-thirds of their new customers come through their Web site. One of their executives told me that Google gets an unfair share of their advertising dollars because every time they buy a click on the word "insurance" it costs [the client] $75. When those potential customers come back to our client's Web site, they need to take all the knowledge they can gather about [the prospect] and make sure they give them the best, most focused, most optimized content possible, because that's the way they attract, convert and capture customers today. They may want different classes of users to get different content and target applications for different users. There is knowledge that goes with an [IP] address once you've hit a Web site, where you've been in terms of search engines and sites. Behavior targeting says I can take that information, gain something from that and deliver more targeted information. It's all about conversion rates.


DMR: Interwoven partners for Web analytics and creative services, but you have brought testing in house, correct?


JC: Yes. We acquired Optimost, which got us into some very valuable multivariable testing customers were looking for. For example, Delta found by changing a few things and even a few colors around that they got more conversions from people who didn't just look at a schedule but went ahead and bought a ticket. It translates to tens of millions of dollars a year they added by just running multivariable testing against their Web site.


DMR: How far do you want to take Interwoven's scope?


JC: We're a profitable company that generates a lot of cash, so we'll continue to acquire and invest where it makes sense. We believe the foundation of next-generation Web sites is content and the ability to manage and work against that content. We are adding pieces. In some cases, we will partner or license technology. In other cases, we'll just have integration to other components and we'll let our partners work with us to tie everything together. We like to work with creative agencies as partners, and in many cases, they have integration capabilities. They'll take our components and other components that they like to work with, and they'll put together a total creative solution for the customer. Out forte is software, and we also provide general services, but we don't do it in such a way that would damage our relationships with our strategic partners.

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