There’s no difference between Global 2000 and Mid-Market for ECM

For way to long I’ve heard that there’s a difference between enterprise content management (ECM) at the “enterprise” level and at the “mid-market” level.  It seems that “enterprise” has taken to mean the Global 2000, rather than the type of decision.  Isn’t every organization an “enterprise”?  This has meant to some that the mid-market is not a viable ECM market.  I think this is absolutely wrong.

I think that the mid-market is more interested in ECM than the Global 2000.  The Global 2000 has been dabbling in ECM for over twenty years.  The largest and most complex document problems have already been solved using ECM.  There are no paper submissions for new drug applications.  Paper is gone from engineering drawings for airplanes, automobiles, ships, and large structures.  Paper is gone from credit card statements, insurance policies, and loan applications.  Yet in many of these organizations, dare I say “enterprises”, many internal processes occur in paper.  Contracts, human resources documents and invoices are often still on paper even in the Global 2000.

The mid-market sees paper as a way that they can speed up processes.  This in turn helps them better compete in their individual markets.  At first most focus on one solution.  With their first success, the move to other parts of their organization, dare I say “enterprise”, to find the next solution.

Global 2000 versus the mid-Market

Using the Gartner definition, mid-size companies have 100 to 999 employees and revenues between $50 million and $1 billion.   According to Middle Market Center there are over 200,000 companies that fit this definition.  A review of the Forbes Global 2000 and the Forbes America’s Largest Private Companies lists quickly shows that there are many private companies that are just as large that are ignored.  There are also a lot of big public companies that don’t make the Global 2000.  For example:

  • Boeing is #76 on the Global 2000 while general aviation giant Textron, who owns Cessna, Bell, and Beachcraft, is not. Still both organizations have the same FAA guidelines to follow.
  • McDonalds is #189 on the Global 2000 while competitors Burger King and Wendy’s are not on the list. Still they all have FDA regulated food safety documentation they need to follow.
  • Most convenience stores have yet to deploy ECM solutions. Most have complex human resources onboarding and policy acknowledgement challenges.

Most of us won’t go a day without interacting with a mid-size company.  Sure our morning news comes from a Global 2000 company and we drive to work in a car manufactured by another Global 2000 company, but odds are where we buy our gas, our groceries, or our lunch is not on that list.  And who delivered and produced those goods is probably not a Global 2000 either.

When Alfresco announced that it has 2,000 customers, I think, “So what.”  OnBase talks about 12,000 lifetime customers and Dell/EMC (OpenText) ECD (a.k.a. Documentum) talks about 5,600 enterprise customers.  Sure, how each vendor measures their customers is different.  What matters to me is when we put those three numbers together we have less than 20,000 customers, that’s just shy of 10% of the mid-market and larger companies.  This number doesn’t take into consideration customer overlap, smaller customers, nor does it address the number of mid-market companies around the globe either.

Enterprise Content Management may be a “new” concept for the mid-market but the challenges of managing documents both in paper or electronic are the same as in any global business.  Growth strategy in ECM is about the mid-market, not “rip-and-replace” of existing Global 2,000 customers.  As Information Governance professionals we should help shows these organizations the opportunities that ECM can bring them.

To help make enterprise content management easier for the mid-market to understand, we’ve launched, a place to learn about Enterprise Content Management in plain language.

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