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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. 😉

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