Sometimes Less is More

June 16, 2010

You might have noticed that it’s been a while since I last updated my blog. Since I last posted, I took on the position of President of Atalasoft and I have been deeply involved in launching the next version of Vizit, the company’s universal viewer for Microsoft SharePoint.

I first got interested in Vizit when I was at Captaris. At the time my team was looking to pull together a value added bundle around SharePoint that would add several image centric components and provide a more complete DMS or ECM experience. It was clear to us that Microsoft needed a partner in this area that could provide a broad bundle of capabilities and International support.

Part of our bundle was something we described as RightView. Microsoft’s solution to viewing in SharePoint is to have the user open the application associated with the document. We wanted to eliminate the need for users to have every application, the time to launch these applications, and the hassle of converting documents to accommodate whatever version of the application the user had available. We also wanted to provide the user an experience that was more closely aligned with other ECM offerings.

The RightView plan was to private label Atalasoft’s Vizit , which we believed was the best viewer for SharePoint in the market. It also had a nice “web scan” feature that enabled a casual user to scan into a repository without leaving SharePoint. Unfortunately, we were in deep discussions to sell the company and we never completely executed the plan.

Over the past year Atalasoft has had the first generation of Vizit in the market. As mentioned above, the first version of Vizit had many image centric features that were influenced by Atalasoft’s legacy in imaging and also by my Captaris team. During the last year the company learned the imaging aspects of Vizit are valued by a niche audience, but the broader market truly values the ability to view over 300 different document types without downloading any software or opening a single application. Today the company launched Vizit 3.0 in two packages: Vizit Essential (Universal Viewing), and Vizit Pro (Universal Viewing + Imaging).

Those of you who have been around me for any period of time have probably heard my “Bob” story. Bob is a guy who starts a software company in his garage to serve a customer need no one else is addressing. Usually Bob gets his first product close enough to this need to get at least a couple of customers. If Bob is smart he then listens closely to his customers and quickly adapts the product to fulfill the complete need. This takes him to the sweet spot in the market and he is wildly successful (another great software company is born). Unfortunately the story doesn’t end there.

During Bob’s adaptive stage his developers focus on adding features that the masses really need. Once the need is fulfilled the developers still need to do something, so the company starts developing features for niches. After adding niche feature after feature Bob finds himself with a product that is cumbersome to use to meet the core need he originally set out to fulfill. At this point the next “Bob” comes along and cleans his clock (software is so much fun).

Over the last year Atalasoft learned the SharePoint market really needed a great viewing experience, and many of the imaging functions met only niche customer needs. Unlike most companies they had the brains to not push forward, but to scale back and focused on the core need (a great viewing experience for SharePoint users). This is something you rarely see in the market, and I believe they have created a product that really hits the right spot in the market.

Now obviously I am biased by being part of the company, but keep in mind this is why I joined. I also didn’t make the tough call to scale back. I would encourage you to not take my word for it, but to go and see the product for yourself. The product launched today and you can learn more on the web site (www.atalasoft.com/products/vizit) where you can see and interact with it.

I’ve also been having fun putting together a marketing program around this product, and I’ll talk about this in my next post. I’m finally getting a chance to take a few risks on the marketing side, which you’ll get a small taste of in today’s press release (www.atalasoft.com/company/press-releases/vizit-pr/atalasoft-claims-vizit-saves-the-average-customer ). Atalasoft has a young and energetic team, and I’m really having a great time working with them. You’ll get a better feel for this in the next couple of weeks as we execute around the rest of the marketing campaign.


One comment

  1. Congratulations Paul! It’s great to see how you’ve continued your arc of sustained success over the course of your career. I’m sure you’ll do a great job leading that group at Atalasoft.

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