Certainly a mature market, enterprise content management (ECM) certainly isn't stagnant. Even in a down economy, Gartner Research found that despite dropping from double-digit growth from 2004 to 2007, ECM managed to earn saw single-digit growth in 2008, ending off with $3.3 billion in worldwide software license and maintenance revenue. According to Gartner's latest Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management, the market is expected to resume a healthy growth rate by next year, with predictions of exceeding $5.1 billion in worldwide software license revenue by 2013. The market is "healthy," the report states, but notes that it is also undergoing a transformation as a result of market consolidation and the prominence of niche players.
Since the debut of the ECM Magic Quadrant in 2005, the research firm has identified six core functionalities of this solution:
- document management;
- document imaging;
- records management;
- Web content management; and
- document-centric collaboration.
Vendors included in the Magic Quadrant had to meet various criteria, such as earning at least $10 million in total content management software revenue and providing an integrated suite offering of at least four of the ECM capabilities, the remainder of which can be obtained through partners.
"Given that the functional capabilities of the parts are better," says Toby Bell, research vice president covering high performance workplace at Gartner and co-author of the report, "it's a great time to engage in content strategy." Enterprises are looking to integrate isolated content components that may exist in 15 to 20 different software implementations, he says. Fortunately, functional capabilities of some ECM suites are robust enough to displace many independently-acquired and aging technologies (i.e., users can get more functionality from a single vendor than ever before). In doing so, he adds, enterprises will be able to take advantage of opportunities that extend their ECM functionalities through their partners or related technologies and vendors.
Bell estimates that approximately 80 percent of enterprise information is unstructured content, 90 percent of which is unmanaged-representing a huge opportunity for ECM vendors. For this reason, ECM has remained relatively insulated from the economic recession. "The fact is, enterprises don't manage content well," Bell says, "but it's risky and expensive not to do so, and therefore, they must do something."
The most pressing issues for many companies now is to revamp their content strategy (i.e., understanding what are the content touch points are, the time and application investments, collaboration breakdowns, overall costs, and benefits), and then decide on a technology that will support it.
"ECM is a destination...a business imperative," Bell says. "There are technologies closely related to that imperative but basically, it's policies, procedures, and automating whatever possible." In other words, finding a single vendor to manage all those needs isn't unthinkable-a statement Bell admits he wouldn't have felt comfortable saying a decade ago, a testament to the advancements of the technology-but what an effective strategy ultimately requires is better management.
Going forward, Bell anticipates that the value of ECM will become much more relevant in the enterprise as companies focus on making content more marketable and more easily accessible in a way that can add business value. The goal being that with content ubiquity, companies can present the "right information at the right time to the right audience in the right format for the right reason," he says.
Gartner categorizes vendors into four categories-Leaders, Challengers, Visionaries, and Niche Players-based on criteria in three overarching elements:
- ability to execute;
- completeness of vision; and
- evolving requirements.
This year's Leaders included (in alphabetical order):
- Open Text; and
- Day Software; and
- SpringCM (new contender and the first SaaS-only vendor).
- Ever Team;
- Fabasoft (new contender);
- Laserfiche (new contender);
- Newgen Software Technologies (new contender);
- Perceptive Software (new contender);
- Siav (new contender);
- Systemware (new contender);
- Xerox; and
- Xythos Software.
Autonomy made it into the ECM Magic Quadrant with its 2009 acquisition of Interwoven, but Bell says he was particularly surprised by Open Text's acquisition of Vignette not only in light of the tough economy, also Vignette's "troubled relationship" with its customers.
The demand for open source and software-as-a-service alternatives for ECM will continue to fuel market variation. Moreover, due to the widely disparate demand of buyers, ECM, Bell says, will likely avoid consolidation to the point where only a handful of vendors dominate and everyone else "fights for the crumbs."
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