Technology and market research firm Forrester Research recently released its Forrester Wave on Enterprise Content Management (ECM). The report evaluated eight enterprise content suite vendors, based on a 70 criteria that center on the vendors' current offering, strategy, and market presence. Despite the economic challenges of the past year, analysts see steady growth in this space, categorizing it as a common enterprise necessity. According to Stephen Powers, a senior analyst at Forrester Research and co-author of the report, the ECM space is a relatively stable market that continues to see a "very steady drumbeat of investment."
Stability, however, doesn't imply stagnancy, Powers says. With continued investment from information and knowledge management leaders, he anticipates that ECM will continue to see steady innovation in upcoming years. The demand is propelled forward by what the report describes as an "explosion of unstructured information," which includes forms such as:
- scanned images;
- rich media;
- Web content;
- corporate records; and
Moreover, Powers notes that there has been a lot of activity in the space from an acquisition perspective as well:
- Autonomy, a provider of enterprise search solutions, acquired content management provider Interwoven in January for $775 million;
- Open Text, which is among this year's Leaders in ECM, acquired Web experience management vendor Vignette earlier this past May in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $310 million; and
- EMC, also a Leader, acquired electronic discovery solutions vendor Kazeon for $75 million in September.
Vendors in Forrester's Leaders section this year are also considered the traditional ECM suite providers and marked by their breadth of functionality, security, and promises of an end-to-end solution. Listed alphabetically, the Leaders are:
- Oracle; and
- Open Text.
Strong Performers have unique strengths, but lack the breadth and sophistication of the traditional players. They are:
- Hyland Software; and
The sole Contender, Alfresco Software, is credited for being a low-cost alternative, but doesn't provide a full suite. The vendor primarily focuses more on document management, imaging, and Web content management.
Although the Forrester Wave ranks the vendors evaluated based on their completeness of offerings, Powers says that best-of-bread vendors that have pieces of functionality are still highly relevant. A one-stop-shop, he says, "is more of a myth." Enterprises today typically have more than one content vendor in house and he sees that continuing to be the reality for many companies. Fortunately, this model works because companies can have emails stores on a shared drive somewhere, while high-value, sensitive documents may be stores on a different content management system. "Two different types of content have different needs," Powers says, "so you don't need the same system to handle both."
Moreover, most of the enterprises that can afford to have an ECM solution have already made investments and don't necessarily have the luxury of scrapping everything even if an all-encompassing solution existed, Power says.
In a survey that queried 1,015 information and knowledge management decision-makers in North America and Europe, Forrester identified strong adoption of ECM with 25 percent interested or considering solutions; 10 percent piloting; and 23 percent expanding or upgrading existing implementations.
Powers also notes that the increase use of in rich media and maturity of Web channels are pushing companies to include their rich media assets as part of content management. Moreover, he sees companies continue to clamor for collaboration capabilities and transparency into the content contribution process.
Technology, of course, is just one part of a successful ECM implementation. "It's absolutely about governance and having an overall content management strategy," Powers says. If a company didn't have a working strategy before, chances are bringing a new solution in will make little difference -- except perhaps force companies to evaluate their investment and review what they may have been putting off.
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