As a risk and compliance (GRC) pundit one gets invited to a lot of conferences. Some, like Compliance Week, are particularly interesting as the format, content, and high-level audience remains engaging year after year. Typically, technology vendor conferences are dull and mundane – Archer’s National Summit held last week in Orlando, Florida is a surprising exception.

What makes Archer different?
First and foremost is their ability to build a community. Over the course of the last several years I have attended this conference off and on (participated as a speaker in a few). I have been interested as they attract a solid audience, some senior executives as well as individuals down in the trenches. What is surprising is the consistency in attendance as well as growth year over year. This year Archer’s attendance grew when everyone else is seeing declines with the economy.
Community is at the core of what Archer is about. I remember one visit to Kansas City (Archer’s headquarters) when the CEO of Archer, Jon Darbyshire, gave me a book “Hug Your Customer.” He told me this is what Archer is about – servicing the client. Archer has done this in such away that many others should take note of. They have a business environment in which customers feel part of the Archer team. Customer involvement in development, enhancement, and expansion of the Archer platform is critical. In fact, Archer clients appear as if they have a sense of ownership and pride in the platform. The entire summit was built around client’s sharing their use and experience of the Archer platform and requesting enhancements.
Archer has carried this further than their conference. Their online portal called the Archer Exchange mirrors what delivers with their AppExchange. This is a place where Archer customers and partners can share the process modules and content they have built on the Archer platform with each other. It gives them a sense of contribution and ownership into the platform that I have not seen with other GRC vendors.
I also was quite surprised at the amount of enterprise GRC, risk, and compliance issues brought forth in customer discussions at the conference. Archer has historically been an IT/information risk and compliance platform – but has rapidly expanded into enterprise GRC over the past two years. While they have been growing in this area, I was not ready for the volume and dominance of enterprise GRC (not IT specific) client content at the conference. It is very impressive how rapidly Archer is advancing in the enterprise GRC space. They particularly are well adept at entering through IT and expanding across the business.
The other item of note is the continued revelation of the flexibility of their platform to adapt to manage any complex or obscure process. They have a highly customizable/configurable solution that allows any normal business user to quickly architect a data model, workflow, and process for risk and compliance. Discussing use of Archer with some of their clients revealed that some clients have developed dozens of custom GRC processes on the Archer platform (some of these being made available on the Archer Exchange for other clients).
My two cents . . .
  • Archer is growing and becoming a formidable player in the enterprise GRC space. Other GRC vendors are taking note and becoming concerned.
  • Archer is specifically good at building brand loyalty through developing a community environment for its users.
  • Archer’s platform is one of the most adaptable platforms to tailor to GRC processes that I have seen – though they lack some advanced/niche features in some areas like complex risk modeling (e.g.,, monte carlo, value at risk) that a few GRC vendors have.

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