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As content management vendors race with the rapid pace of change in the enterprise workplace, some are pulling ahead.

The front-runners embrace the rising demand for content collaboration, mobile access and better user experiences, but others are showing strength in particular areas.

New research from Nucleus identified eight vendors dominating the market, but noted they aren't the only ones gaining ground.

Nucleus Value Matrix

Eight vendors made it into the Leaders Quadrant of Nucleus’ Value Matrix for ECM with another eight in the other three quadrants -- Expert, Facilitator, and Core Provider.

If this seems similar to Gartner’s classification in its Magic Quadrant for ECM, that’s because it is. But there are two differences. First, Gartner’s Quadrant is based on absolute values, while the Nucleus analysis is presented as relative values -- how vendors compare with the others. Second, the Nucleus quadrant is revised twice a year.

Nucleus also identified three trends that have been emerging for some time, and now appear to be established strategies for ECM vendors:

  • Simplification: Simplifying the end-user experience and making it easier for workers to work has become the priority, as has automating more processes to reduce training times.
  • Integration: There is a move away from standalone solutions toward integration with other applications.
  • Mobility and collaboration: There's greater focus on helping mobile employees to create, access and share content securely.

The Matrix also found that vendors are also being challenged by developments outside their control and in other areas of technology. That's reflected with OpenText, Oracle, IBM, OnBase, EMC, HP Autonomy, Perceptive Software and SpringCM all in the Leaders quadrant. But keep in mind there are three other quadrants. 

Expert Quadrant

The Expert Quadrant includes, in this order, Laserfiche, Alfresco and Systemware. These vendors have invested heavily in functionality that, by its nature, is more complex and requires more training than the products of vendors in the Leaders’ Quadrant.

Laserfiche

Laserfiche took an approach that if all departments need to access content stored in siloes, they all need to do it in different ways. The result is an application that offers access that is efficient, flexible and unique to the needs and business practices of an individual department.

It also offers business process management as a core element of its ECM offerings, along with document imaging, document management and records management. It comes with a wide range of functionality out-of-the-box that can be deployed by both small and medium-sized enterprises.

Easily scalable, it provides a cost-effective solution for enterprises looking for BPM and ECM combined. In recent times it has also greatly expanded its mobile capabilities and accommodates the development of Bring-Your-Own strategies (BYOD) in the enterprise. According to Nucleus, Laserfiche will continue to develop its mobile offerings to cover more devices.

Alfresco

We have seen over the year that Alfresco has been rapidly developing its platform under a new US-based CEO. There were discussions about an possible IPO, but they appear to have been put on hold as the company builds out its product portfolio.

That said, Alfresco already possesses a flexible, agile platform on which it continues to build mobile and cloud capabilities to accommodate enterprises moving to, or working in, multiple environments.

As an open source solution, it is easy to customize.  Alfresco promises high adoption rates with low deployment and operational costs along with a broad set of functions. Nucleus said that Alfresco’s mobile offerings are highly secure and will include more functions in coming months.

Systemware

Systemware describes itself as a boutique vendor that serves the content management storage requirements of big enterprises including Fortune 500 companies. It offers a range capabilities including capture, document and process management, highly specialized archiving and records management.

Systemware’s solutions can be customized for regulated industries and can be scaled and modified as regulatory environments evolve. Its resiliency and security around data storage has led to considerable success in the financial services sector.

Nucleus expects Systemware to keep developing its business process management and archiving capabilities in response to the increasingly complex regulatory environment..

Facilitators

The next quadrant is the Facilitators, populated with vendors with easy-to-use applications. This Quadrant includes Microsoft, Kofax and M-Files.

Microsoft

What can we say here about SharePoint that hasn’t been said already. It has a deep presence across all verticals and across all departments. It is particularly useful for enterprises because of its link with Microsoft Office and it has become the central link pulling all content management together in many enterprises.

For many users in many enterprises, it has become the interface through which users access, manage and distribute content in the enterprise.

Microsoft is making big efforts to add additional content management functionality around SharePoint, while the Service Pack 1 for on-premises SharePoint customers will enable them integrate OneDrive for Business as part of their content cloud.

Kofax

In recent times, Kofax has been developing a stronger presence in the ECM market with its smart process applications being used to cover many of the important areas of enterprise content management.

In January of this year it released its Mobile Capture Platform that enables workers take in content from anywhere, which effectively improves the entire customer experience. It also speeds up all the processes around the use of content.

If in the past Kofax has been principally known for its capture technology, it has also been developing horizontally across ECM, analytics and BPM. It also added business intelligence when it bought Altosoft in March 2013, while the Kapow acquisition gave it data integration functionality to extract and deliver data from multiple sources without the need for additional coding.

Nucleus say it expects Kofax to continue expanding its functions through development and acquisition.

M-Files

M-Files has been building itself up for many years through a folderless document management system that employs metadata to search, process and archive content. It has a growing global presence as a system that is easily deployed with a high level of compliance out-of-the-box.

According to Nucleus, users say they have found it easy to use with high levels of document and information management functionality at a lower price than most.

Its focus areas are document management, quality management and enterprise asset management. Its solutions can be offered in the cloud, as hybrid environments or on-premises. M-Files can be deployed in any enterprise, but has strong capabilities in manufacturing, life sciences, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, law and architecture.

The result is a solution that supports a whole range of compliance and regulatory regimes that is easily adapted according to needs.

Core Providers

Core Providers are those companies that offer limited functionality at a relatively low cost. They include Digitech and EVER TEAM.

Digitech

Digitech’s focus is to provide intuitive, easy to use, and cost effective content management functions out of the box. According to Nucleus, it is currently working on a more automated ECM application that is targeted at the small to medium-sized industries. Its recent releases have seen it deepen its presence in some areas, including e-forms and e-signatures.

Its latest releases have added deeper functionality in distinct areas to grow its overall capabilities, while maintaining ease of use. Nucleus says it expects that Digitech to continue to automate processes for the capture, delivery and management of content to cut down on the number of points content must pass to get through the enterprise.

EVER TEAM

EVER TEAM continues to have a strong presence as a comprehensive ECM provider in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It provides extensive wide-ranging integrations with SharePoint enabling enterprises manage their content life cycles in parallel to the enterprises existing systems. There is no indication that EVER TEAM has plans to release new functionality in 2014 or to update its user interface to make it easier for users to take advantage of the full functionality of the solution.

Title image by lzf, SutterStock.