Evaluating My 2010 ECM Predictions

Last year I made six predictions for the 2010 content management market. Unlike Jean Dixon though I am actually going to review my work.  The thing about making predictions like this is there is no real accountability – That is what makes punditry so appealing. Nevertheless I am going to attempt an objective review anyway. 

#1 Open Text Will Acquire Another ECM Vendor

Summary : Driven by dropping license revenues OpenText will seek out another acquisition in the ECM space to bolster sagging revenues from SharePoint pressure  further generating feature overlap.

What Really Happened : OT did indeed make a couple of interesting acquisitions and their results did indicate a drop in revenues which they blamed on deal cycles and not SharePoint but I am not willing to concede that point.  The acquisition of Nstien early in the year added interesting semantic capabilities that while interesting will take time to move the needle in any meaningful way.(pun intended)

 Acquiring StreamServe to include output management expanded their capability and extends their position with SAP users in particular. Neither represent the overlap in ECM I predicted though Nstien arguably has some WCM like qualities.

Acquiring systems integrator Burntsand still feels odd to me and was perhaps more about Canadian solidarity than revenue. All in all a more thoughtful acquisition pattern, perhaps because the previous few years had been so action packed.

#2 SharePoint Will Force Specialization  & #3 Major ECM Vendors Will Stop Positioning Themselves as ECM

Summary: In retrospect predictions 2 & 3 were so closely related that it makes more sense to combine them in review. The combined summary then is that SharePoint is winning ECM and to stay in business everybody else has to specialize in what they do best or at the very least rename what they say they do to differentiate themselves.

What Really Happened:  In February of last year I wrote a piece titled How SharePoint is Capturing ECM. The argument was that while it may not have reached parity with the major ECM suites, SharePoint has nonetheless captured the pivotal use case for ECM. My observations in the field bear this out. SharePoint 2010 goes even farther to close perceived gaps. The response of the major players however continues to evolve.  EMC followed by IBM both jumped on the case management band wagon. For these companies it is about leveraging a technical advantage they still maintain over the Microsoft platform in the area of content enabled BPM.

Open Text however staunchly defended their ECM turf with their fall ECM Suite 2010 campaign. If only in tone and not in reality there appears to be a shift in OpenText’s strategy where Redmond is concerned. OT clearly appears to be hedging its bets made with Microsoft and SAP by cozying up to Oracle with the announcement late in the year.(oddly coinciding with the SAP/Oracle trade secret case)

Compared to a few years ago, the “SharePoint is better with us than without us” mantra appears to be fading. Perhaps the market is finally realizing that MS has no intention of letting someone else take a dollar off the table when they could get it themselves.

Even the open source and cloud ECM contenders (Nuxeo, Alfresco, box.net) seem less inclined to try and ride SharePoint’s coattails and prefer to make the case for their products on their own merits. My personal favorite being Box.net and their “No SharePoint” t-shirts. Seems somebody forgot to tell Mr. Levie you aren’t supposed to poke the dragon of Redmond with a stick.

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

Summary: Faced with the challenge of upgrades and site sprawl companies will begin to be concerned with and planning for archiving of SharePoints sites.

What Really Happened: With SharePoint 2010 launching roughly mid year this is starting to develop but it has not yet reached any sort of critical mass for this budget cycle. Maybe next year.

#5 Cloud ECM Business Models Will Dampen The Hype

Summary: Movement of ECM to the cloud will continue to gain interest but will be faced with a challenge and make little headway. How do you develop a meaningful pricing model that fairly represents the value of the technology but doesn’t threaten well established (read that entrenched) seat based licensing?

What Really Happened: There remains a relative lack of chatter from the major ECM vendors where the cloud is concerned. For all our bravado, content management is a relatively conservative tech sector and I am not surprised at the slow movement.

Everyone says they have something running in a cloud but other than the smaller players like the aforementioned box.net, few have jumped in with both feet, ignored well established channels and publicly redirected their emphasis. I still contend one of the stumbling blocks is that no one has figured out a way to roll an existing maintenance stream into a cloud based model without taking an enormous write down. The one that figures this out will be well ahead out of the gate.

#6 WCM Will Remain A Boring Topic

Summary: Web Content Management will continue to be uninteresting.

What Really Happened: Even with the acquisition of Day Software by Adobe I think I nailed this one. Apparently the rest of the community agrees because now we are replacing the “C” with an “E”  – because every acronym deserves an “E”.  I admit I am not objective here. I still hate this topic.

Trying to change the conversation to focus on “Experience” instead of “Content” while laudable doesn’t change the fact that there are still a gaggle of platforms that do exactly the same thing the same way. My criteria for picking a WCM remains unchanged. Pick the one that

  • Fits your budget
  • Has the most bells and whistles
  • You know how to support  (Java v. DotNet)
  • Has an EULA your lawyers won’t throw up on

Looking to 2011

Next week I will dust off the crystal ball and peer into 2011, again setting myself up for another year of being proven partially right.

4 thoughts on “Evaluating My 2010 ECM Predictions

  1. thought about that – decided it would be even more arbitrary than most HR performance management ratings and left it alone.

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