Open Source ECM: Nuxeo expands sales for vertical markets

Nuxeo, an open source firm pioneering in the Open Source ECM revolution from 2001, announced that Nuxeo has been choosen by the Press Association. Being the second time that Nuxeo addresses the market of press agencies, I asked Stefan Fermigier, Nuxeo CEO, to tell us more about it.

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From the press release results that the national news agency of the UK and Ireland (Press Association) has chosen to improve its digital news production process using Nuxeo:

Rapidly changing requirements and demands for digital multimedia news distribution drove the need for PA to develop a much more robust and efficient ECM platform. Nuxeo has developed an ECM prototype for PA, which PA has approved. Both parties are currently working together on the final release.

Stefan, is prototyping a valuable business development tool?

Definitively yes! Prototyping a project with, for instance, the 20% of the functionalities that clearly showcase 80% of the business value, is a great way to startup a business relationship with a new customer.

More generally, our most successful projects (on the occasions where Nuxeo, and not a system integrator, is asked by the customers to do the developments) have been done in an iterative fashion that goes roughly like this:

  1. start with a proof of concept or prototype;
    .
  2. sign a framework contract with the customer and define the initial scope for the project;
    .
  3. develop the application iteratively, collecting feedback from the future users by making frequent (for instance, monthly) releases, and fine-tuning the specifications if necessary;
    .
  4. deploy the application to a small group of actual users;
    .
  5. support those users and collect their feedback from real use;
    .
  6. start a new phase for the project, with enhancements requested by the users, and roll out to a larger user base;
    .
  7. iterate last part until roll out is complete.

And later do more projects with the same customer using the same technology, as they are now confident that the technology can be used for real.

Open sources firm implementing solutions based on open source products often follow a similar path. Tailoring open source software to specific needs requires a deep knowledge of both the product and the specific process. Here customers can see a risk of having no support down the road.
Did it help you to get it having previous experiences in the field?

In this particular case, yes. We have already done a successful project with Agence France Presse, and which, according to the agency’s IT directors, led the AFP to raise the production of the journalists using the application by 40%.

Even though they are competitors (on certain markets), AFP helped us convince PA that we have a great technology and a strong understanding of the needs of a news agency.

With these projects, as well as several other ongoing projects with AFP, we believe that we are now well positioned to address the worldwide market of press agencies and other news producing bodies.

Nuxeo in this case is addressing a vertical market in the long tail, betting on the possibility to exploit business process execution within a specific market segment. We will see more and more Enterprise Content Management solutions targeted at particular verticals, and identifying the right ones is really important.

Is the improvement of PA’s digital news production process of any interest to other potential customers?

As stated in the press release, PA is in a fiercely competitive market and wants to leverage the application to gain competitive advantage. Hence there are parts of the project that are proprietary and won’t be shared with others. But we can still work with other news agencies on their own particular needs and help them develop news production systems on top of our platform tailored to their needs.

And there are many enhancements that we’re doing to the platforms we’re using to do the project, Nuxeo EP and Nuxeo RCP, that will come from the project’s requirements, and will be available in the next releases of Nuxeo EP as well as in the first packaged release of Nuxeo RCP, both scheduled for early 2008.

Unlike some “open source” companies that develop the new versions of their product behind closed doors, the source code for these enhancements is already visible in our source code repository. (While of course all customer-specific code is in a private, secure repository.)

Open source is often about customization, and moving from artisanship to industrial requires a pyramidal structure. Large System integrators would act as “mediators” towards specialized firms. Maybe partners like Atos Origin, Capgemini or LogicaCMG will play a role to deliver solutions targeted at other verticals.
“The 80-20 rule” unfortunately applies the other way around: a general purpose infrastructure fits the 80% of cases and 20% of resources are needed to fulfill them, but to cover the remaining 20% of cases you need 80% of the resources.

No “free” lunch for open source firms today, and congratulations to Nuxeo!

Technorati Tags: Open Source Strategy, ECM, Nuxeo, Stefan Fermigier, Press Association

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