We had a small analyst Q&A with Ed McQuiston (Chief Commercial Officer) and John Phelan (Chief Product Officer) this afternoon at Hyland’s CommunityLIVE, giving us a chance to hear more and ask some questions about the company and product direction.
I’m particularly interested in the product roadmap in terms of convergence (or not) of the four content engines that they now have, both from a technology standpoint and go-to-market positioning. They mostly go to market through verticals, which begs the question whether they will position each engine as serving a specific industry to avoid customer confusion and also reduce the training cycle for their own industry-specific teams. There are definitely some places where that makes sense, such as using Nuxeo for digital asset management for rich media, but there’s arguably a lot of overlap between functionality in, for example, OnBase and Alfresco.
McQuiston addressed how they are consolidating the external view of the company and product pages: instead of having separate entry points for each product, they are consolidating the online experiences regardless of what product that you’re looking for information on. Their sales teams are very oriented around the industry verticals, and there is a strong alignment between products and verticals. However, they are finding that some of the verticals that were previously OnBase are shifting to be a more natural match with one of the other platforms, such that net new customers in those verticals may use a different platform than what they sold with OnBase previously. Not surprising, but its possible that the vertical sales teams end up in a Maslow’s Hammer situation of selling what they’re most familiar with.
Phelan (and I quizzed him at lunch about this) isn’t discussing any particular plans about core engine convergence/unification: their public message is that they are supporting all four content engines. As I said to them in the Q&A session, I hope we’re not sitting here in five years hearing the same message. Since their company value is based on ARR — annual recurring revenue — they have little financial basis for cutting any of their existing product lines, but from a technology standpoint, they will move faster as a company if they can start unifying at least the core engines under the covers, then gradually migrate the “product specific” capabilities to integrate with a shared core engine.
Hyland’s an old company in software terms, and could definitely benefit from shedding some of their legacy mindset. They’ve got a lot of solid technology in their portfolio, and a huge amount of industry vertical experience; they need to find the right product and go-to-market roadmap to best leverage that.