2010 Content Management Predictions from Lee Dallas

My dream job is being a pundit on a cable news network. Dress nice, spout opinions all day and no accountability. (not unlike an executive  consultant)  As it is though I have to work for a living and the closest I can get to that is making predictions about the content management market place for next year. If I am wrong I can always blame it on changing market conditions and if I am right I will credit my keen insight and supernatural precognitive abilities.  Unfortunately my desire for continued gainful employment requires that I don’t really go into some specifics related to my own company. Not to worry – there are plenty of other vendors to talk about.

#1 Open Text Will Acquire Another ECM Vendor

Predicting that OT will buy someone else is a little like predicting Tiger Woods will return to golf. It is kind of a gimme.  What I think will be notable will be the target. I predict that OT will look to acquire a direct ECM competitor as Livelink license revenue faces continued pressure from Microsoft. This would be in keeping with their strategy of acquiring market share through acquisition rather than organic growth regardless of feature and technology overlap. (e.g. RedDot, Vignette,etc)  I have little doubt that OT would love to add Hyland (OnBase) to the portfolio to strengthen their healthcare position but it is unclear whether or not  Hyland is ready to cash out.  If memory serves they are >50% VC owned now after the founders sold a controlling stake to investors several years ago.  I will not predict that OT will be acquired because everyone else already has made that same prediction for the last three years.

#2 SharePoint Will Force Specialization in the ECM Market

I have written here many times, SharePoint is after the ECM market whether you want to believe it or not.  Their install base and perceived dominance of the collaborative content management market puts them in the enviable position of owning the eyes and keystrokes of the end user. They can pick and chose what features to embed and what to leave to the ISV’s until they get around to it.  As such, broad ECM vendors will be forced to do a 180 degree turn and promote specialization in order to maintain relevance.  As others have predicted, capture and support of transactional content management will be a good place for 2010 Sharepoint ISV’s but mainline ECM vendors will continue to retool and redirect their broader stacks to this narrowing funnel of features. Both CMSWatch and WordofPie have suggested a divergence of ECM from document or web content management but I see it as a more fundamental dissolution of the overall concept of ECM itself.

#3 Major ECM Vendors Will Stop Positioning Themselves as ECM Vendors

Largely in response to point #2 but more in response to the buyers change of mind set, ECM will continue to fade as a relevant marketing term. The technology, practice and implementations will still be there. ECM will not loose its importance in the overall corporate infrastructure. Marketeers, consultants and analysts however (me included) will have to face the fact that ECM as a term has and continues to gain negative perceptions in the marketplace.  People don’t want to buy ECM.  They never really did. It is a term pushed on the buyers of technology to abstract the solution to a complex pervasive problem(unstructured data) into a single term.  The problem is that the term is as monolithic as the architectures and product suites we have been promoting for the last 10 years or so and it is collapsing under its own overly idealistic weight.  The result will be not only specialization in technology but also specialization in marketing and messaging as well.

#4 SharePoint Archiving Will Be THE BIG Topic in Q4 ’10

To more practical matters, archiving of SharePoint sites will be a BIG topic in the later part of 2010 as budgets are prepared for 2011. Why? It is simple – SharePoint 2010 upgrades. Not many upgrades  will occur in 2010 but as IT shops embark on the planning process to figure out how to get the latest and greatest deployed into their environments, the first question they will ask is “how can I make this problem smaller.” I know that’s what I would do because the upgrade logistics problem is HUGE.

#5 Cloud ECM Business Models Will Dampen The Hype

If one prediction gets me in trouble it will be this one. Cloud computing is the darling of technology these days. To be fair – I have no problems with the concept, architecture or even to a degree the hype. I think it is good to be excited about new things. I do predict however that excitement will wane as companies (both vendor and customer) struggle to find the sweet spot in the business model. I am not at all convinced that the paint is dry on this topic. Also if there is one thing that is guaranteed to slow technology down its lawyers and new unresolved issues around privacy, security and discovery may creep up at any moment.

#6 WCM Will Remain A Boring Topic

Inspired by posts on both WordofPie and Jon On Tech I finally admit I hate WCM.  The kind of hate that makes my skin crawl. The kind of hate that makes me do anything to avoid it. The “won’t invite it to my own birthday party even if it gives good presents” kind of hate.  It is not the people or what they produce that bothers me.  I hate WCM because it is pretentious. As Jon rightly points out, calling it Web Content Management to begin with is a stretch. The web is a delivery mechanism that all content distribution channels use today. What gives them the right to lay claim to the “W”. When most people refer to WCM what they are really talking about is producing content for consumption/rendering in a browser. In the end though – it is still a boring market and 2010 will be no different.  500 nearly identical products all doing essentially the same thing with nuanced editors catering to idiosyncratic creators. Despite all of the advances and promises of WCM – everybody will still need one,  Jane in accounting using a template editor will not eliminate the need for a creative web team and all the cool stuff will still be done by developers.


In closing I’ll stress that these are my opinions and in no way represent the official position of my employer or anyone else. I am not in a position to know anything meaningful anyway.   Marko will cover his insights in a separate post but one last prediction – 2010 will be a big year for him. 😉

9 thoughts on “2010 Content Management Predictions from Lee Dallas

  1. Good article. I agree 100% about SharePoint. Traditional ECM vendors are hanging on to SharePoint’s coat tails – and SharePoint isn’t even supposed to be a ‘proper’ ECM as well. With a bazillion licenses I doubt that Microsoft cares whether it’s a ‘proper’ ECM. Like you said, its deficiencies could be addressed by integrators.

    SharePoint seems to be progressing like MS Office, crap to start with but improving with each revision. I was thinking that CMIS might even help organisations migrate to SharePoint…

    And LOL about your WCM comments. I always find it funny to read that WCM product X now supports browser Y – like it was a feature.

  2. thanks for the comment –
    sadly I think it is less vendors hanging onto to coat tails than certain ones realizing Redmond just took the shirt off their back while they weren’t looking.

  3. Walk a month in my shoes and I think you’d get a much different perspective on what customers are asking of (so-called) “WCM” vendors these days- it’s a far cry from WCM circa 2001 and it’s anything but boring.

    It’s not really the management of content that is all that interesting these days. It’s how content drives measurable business results like revenue, engagement, loyalty, etc. There are indeed 500 vendors to manage web content all fairly similar, but how many of them really help solve the challenging business problems that CMO’s and CIO’s face today? The successful vendors (so-called) “WCM” vendors have evolved to this new reality.

    In fact, the (WCM) world is seeing the same sort of evolution document management saw in the early 2000’s during the formation of the ECM era. Document management in 1997 was all about who had the best library services- now, its about who solves real business problems like eDiscovery and archiving. Same is true of (WCM)- the “webmaster bottleneck” was all the rage in 1999 but now we’re solving much more important problems like how organizations retain and engage customers through online communities; how companies sell more online; branding; etc. (WCM) is certainly much much than Jane in accounting updating the lunch menu in a template 🙂

    1. First Tom – thanks for the comment.

      To me it seems the point is that *CM is in desparate need of redefinition. I know that the questions you pose are being asked of WCM vendors but I am afraid that far too many of these vendors are the wrong ones to ask to begin with. So often the focus of selection is diverted away from the genuine marketing content and customer “2.0” issues you describe to deal with creative/editorial freedom from structured systems.

      What really needs to happen is to shift the “balance of power” in selection from the editorial to the analytical. The first well intentioned and ill fated wave in WCM changes drove us to the template/publishing mindset. The traditional library/ECM guys said “we can do that” but many never understood that you cannot decouple creation from user experience in this context.

      I’m sure you’ll agree managing the experience is not the same as managing the content.Content itself is only a component of the experience. Continuing to call it WCM will continue to overly weight consideration of the products in favor of the editor and not the analytical and consumer aware capabilities of the delivery channel. I agree – what you describe does sound exciting – but I also argue that it is not WCM as it is understood today. It is something else entirely – past evolution and onto a new species.

  4. Great points and I’m looking forward to the balance of power shift. We can all agree that WCM, CMS, etc. need to go!

    This is an interesting discussion for me since I’m in the process of trying to figure out how to market the new technology stack: a combination of “what we used to call WCM” + social + marketing. Now, what to call THAT is what keeps me up at night!

  5. Yes Craig – in my predictions CMIS is conspicuous in its absense. I intentionally left it out mainly because I am starting to see CMIS is an “inside” topic and no amount of press releases will make it pivotal in 2010. The prediction is that CMIS will make real news when a major app vendor commits to it.(e.g. SAP) and I don’t see that coming next year. Current Oracle , IBM and Microsoft involvement doesn’t count. Their internal content management organizations may be strong supporters but I do not believe that translates to prevalent use within their business application suite. I especially don’t see those groups adopting CMIS as the architectural pillar I believe it needs to be in order to achieve its transformational potential. but I could be wrong 😉

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