Last week we were lucky enough to be able to break what has, for us, been a big secret for quite some time; that is, a new way of thinking and a new approach to embedding information governance practices into business as usual. Our friends at the Information Governance Initiative described it as “the first time I have seen a vendor and customer in the IG space working together to find a business model so clearly focused on results”. If, for some reason, you missed this, check out Barclay Blair’s blog article and our press release for more info. For us, it was a great first step and now we have it working in practice, we’re keen to share some of what made it happen.

Before I go on, perhaps first a little context. As a software vendor we value greatly our long-term customer relationships. As a small and innovative vendor in a new and emergent market, we especially value customers who can also innovate and are willing to join us in exploring new ways of approaching our solutions. This is one of those situations and the customer in question, Rio Tinto – an organization with a growing vision seeking new ways to maximize the value of its information. After the interest expressed in response to our joint press release, I thought I’d write a series of blog entries that describe how this engagement and others have helped us extend our core software licensing approaches to offer new ways to sell and acquire our unique capabilities.

Like many similar endeavors, this one took quite some time to hatch in its final form but the ideas that took us there have been at the heart of our thinking since we first entered the Information Governance (IG) market. What was clear to us from the outset is that whilst many organizations and most people ‘get’ the idea and benefits of proactively taking control of their unstructured content, organizations still find it a challenge to build a business case that could easily gain support for a properly global undertaking. In short, we wanted to make the hard ROI a ‘slam dunk’ for busy information owners to sign off.

We had a risk/cost sharing model in mind and, of course, with ‘everything as a service’ attracting such a premium with procurement and investors alike, we were keen to work out how a commercial results-based risk/reward model and an ‘as a service’ approach might be blended together. This presented us a few challenges:

  • Being bound to deploy our software into the customer’s IT environment, how do we protect our results when we cannot control that environment’s performance and behavior?
  • What results will the customer sign up to that that we can measure objectively enough to invoice with?
  • How can we make results ‘extensible’ so that softer, higher value IG benefits can be delivered over time?
  • With content discovery and audit at the heart of what we offer, how might we offset the risk inherent in uncertain content?

I think it’s clear at this point that success here required a pretty robust partnership. For us and our customer to commit, some feasibility consultation work was needed in order to better understand the risk for both sides and help chase down the points above. In our case, experience in large-scale content discovery and cleanup was a key factor and for this, our first such partnership at least, a sound understanding of its culture was important too.

What we have learned is that, most importantly, with our software at its heart, we have an exciting new offering for shared-risk large-scale content discovery and cleanup that provides a revenue stream which looks a bit like that associated with ‘as a service’ models. Further, of course, we can do it in a way that is buyable by global organizations with payment being made as results are delivered. For now, our models suggest that making this work requires LOTS OF CONTENT although we’re optimistic that, with more experience, that factor can be addressed.

Finally, what we love most of all is that this approach, launched on the back of hard ROI, provides a platform for much higher value IG benefits and results. Whilst the basic results continue to be delivered as I type, we are setting up a range of new solutions with this basic approach at their core. Describing those here will take far more time that I have right now but I look forward to bringing you some more on them in a later post.

Written by Rich Hale

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