Perhaps it’s a sign of growing older, but I’ve become crankier over the years as my favorite brands or styles disappear without warning. Whether it’s running gear, toothpaste, deodorant, or a favorite coffee shop snack. Once I find what I like, I stick with it. Then, some very smart people determine that what I like isn’t good enough so they “new-and-improve” it, or they get rid of it entirely. New is great. How did I live without a smart watch? I even welcome disruptive technologies, like Uber. But don’t make me figure out which cereal to buy every week at the grocery store.
Finding a new brand of socks is annoying. Swapping out enterprise-level software is an entirely different level of aggravation. And yet, some large companies make their customers do just that as frequently as soda manufacturers change their can designs.
I bring this up now because another competitor in the Information Governance landscape has gone belly-up, leaving customers to fend for themselves as they scramble to find a suitable replacement. I won’t name names here, but this has become a recurring theme over my 18-year tenure at Zasio. Companies that once seemed promising either didn’t survive, or they’ve been bought up by larger companies for spare parts.
In fact, I found that no fewer than 12 (and most likely a lot more) former competitors no longer exist because they’ve been bought by larger companies. Of those that remain, all were built on successions of acquisitions, leaving a trail of disappointed customers in their wake as software platforms were dismantled and merged into larger suites or were simply discontinued. I am hard-pressed to think of a single example of a company that has maintained a consistent platform since I have been in the records and content management software industry. Hopefully, someone reading this will be able to correct me.
To make matters worse, nearly every time we migrate one of these legacy systems, we find they were not designed for longevity in the first place. We see description and history fields limited to 255 rows of text. We find hierarchies limited to 2 or 3 levels, or hierarchies that require a new database table for each level. Some systems limit the number of custom fields.
Sometimes it’s not the fault of the system, but a combination of thinking both small and short-term. Have you ever seen a retention schedule with 98,000 series? It’s easy to do if you’re in retail and build your schedule based on the handful of properties owned—then expand from a handful of properties to thousands. Ironically, an industry concerned with long-term preservation of corporate records litters the landscape with surprisingly short-term thinking.
Thinking long-term won’t get you on the front page of Wired or Engadget magazines because it’s not sexy. But, as software developers, database designers, and information governors, we must think this way or risk losing what feeble grasp we now have on corporate memory. I already fear that information is growing faster than our ability to categorize it. As an example, a recent CIO article stated, “Public cloud adoption in enterprises will cross 50 percent for the first time.”  How many providers of those cloud apps and services are planning for what the data will look like 3 years from now? What about 5 or 20 years? When you evaluate software vendors, do you look at their track records or only at the cool new things the software can do?
At Zasio, we take a different approach that affects everything we do. That includes software design, hiring practices, technical support, corporate policies, and pricing. Our culture of long-term thinking means we continue to support customers that have been with us over our entire 30 year history. Our products are here for the long-run. Versatile Retention, our records retention software, is 20 years old. We grow slow and steady, developing our own products rather than bolting on acquired systems. We provide you with an easy path to updates. We make the necessary changes to our products to keep them current, rather than forcing you to learn a new system. Our products grow and change with you. We also expand on the products you know to keep you up-to-date with the changing technological landscape. For example, we just released Versatile Retention as a SaaS model—same great product, just now offered fully online. Our priority has been and always will be to provide solid records and information management software and consulting. We keep up with you and your needs, so you never need to worry about having to learn a new system. Contact us today to learn more.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is to provide general education on Information Governance topics. The statements are informational only and do not constitute legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the application of the law to your business activities, you should seek the advice of your legal counsel.