Our first look at Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Enterprises Content Management (ECM) showed a dynamic, growing ECM market populated by vendors that cover the full range functionality needed by enterprises to manage information. This becomes particularly apparent in the Niche Quadrant where there are 14 vendors that cover specific areas across the ECM spectrum.

MQ ECM 2013 Criteria 

While the vendors that made it into the Leaders’ Quadrant came as no real surprise -- EMC, Hyland Software, IBM, Microsoft, OpenText and Perceptive -- there were some interesting products in the Niche space that make it worth taking a look at.

This year’s Niche Quadrant included the following vendors in alphabetical order:

Ever Team, Fabasoft, HP, Laserfiche, M-Files, Newgen, Objective, Siav, Saperion, Software Innovation, SpringCM, SunGard, Systemware, Unisys.

To be included in the Quadrant in the first place is quite a feat. For inclusion this year, vendors must:

  • Show at least US$ 10 million in annual content management revenues
  • Have a product footprint in at least two major regions
  • Have ECM software available commercially and references that can vouch for that
  • Produce a suite that supplies at least four components listed below:
    • Document management
    • Workflow/business process management (BPM)
    • Imaging Processing Applications
    • Records Management
    • Web content management (WCM)
    • Social content:
    • Extended components

For the Niche Quadrant, vendors must also be able to demonstrate a focus on specific categories of ECM like transactional content, cater for midmarket buyers or supplement the business applications or IT stacks of the big vendors. Many are still only developing their ECM offerings, or serve certain regions, industries or functional domains.

That said it also contains some major vendors with established portfolios like HP, which made it into the Quadrant this year on the back of the Autonomy acquisition, or Laserfiche and SpringCM that have been successfully operating in the ECM space for years.

This all points to a future market that will be based on vendors that can respond to changing market conditions quickly, as opposed to the unwieldy giants that have been throwing their weight around for years.

Niche Quadrant

However, that’s for the future -- although not so far into the future -- even if there are clear signs of that change already. For today, though, we will look at some of the vendors that make up the Niche Quadrant and, because there is so many, the remainder next week. Working from the beginning of the alphabet, then, today’s vendors are:

Ever Team

Based in France, Ever Team has a broad portfolio of products covering content lifecycle management. Catering mainly to midsize companies, its strategic focus is the Middle East. It recently formed a partnership with Konica Minolta.

  • Strengths: It has an end-to-end solution that works well as a whole, along with easy-to-use APIs. Continues to grow its portfolio through organic development and scores high with clients for usability. It also comes with a wide range of connectors.
  • Cautions: Still has a lot to do to grow market awareness. Depends on SharePoint for collaboration capabilities instead of developing native apps. Reference users say the administration interface needs improvement as it is too complex.

Fabasoft

Based in Austria, Fabasoft shows steady growth in Central and Eastern Europe. It has a strong UI and places a lot of emphasis on user experience. It offers both cloud, on-premises and hybrid deployments.

  • Strengths: Fabasoft continues to develop its offerings across case management, workflow and records management while building on its cloud and collaboration strengths. Its cloud offering is hosted in Europe and continuously gets positive reviews from clients. It has a fully developed "Cloud First" strategy.
  • Cautions: Its growth is modest despite an attractive product range. Gartner says it is in transition and needs to push growth to remain successful. The channel outside Central Europe needs strengthening to enable continue growth and needs a broader sales channel, especially for growth in the US.

HP

HP has entered the ECM space through the acquisition of Autonomy. Despite ongoing corporate problems relating to the deal, HP appears to be building up the Autonomy team and shows renewed commitment to the ECM space.

  • Strengths: HP has strong branding in the consumer and enterprise markets. It is known for the breadth of its portfolio for content management and related technologies. It offers strong enterprise search as well as contextual content discovery and management through IDOL. It has spent a lot of time over the year focusing on core competencies.
  • Cautions: Other companies acquired many of the products in its ECM portfolio, with some reference clients expressing concern over “aging” products. While it has all the ECM components needed, it still has a good deal of integration to do yet. HP needs to continue investmenting to overcome this problem.

Laserfiche

Based in California, Laserfiche provides easy-to-deploy, cost-effective ECM and offers suites for both the midsize and enterprise-sized markets. It provides all the principal components and has a strong installed base in both private and public sector.

  • Strengths: Laserfiche covers the entire ECM space from midsize market up. Its products are easy and cheap to deploy, with customers generally reporting high levels of satisfaction. Customers also tend to be positive about their relationship with the company.
  • Cautions:  Laserfiche is challenged to move outside its midsize customer base making increasing investments in market and messaging necessary in order to expand its reach. It has limited relationships with system integrators, and continues to have a limited presence in Europe.

M-Files

M-Files has made considerable progress since it entered the market in 2005 and has been extending its geographic reach and coverage from its original base in Finland. It now has a strong presence in the US and Europe.

  • Strengths: Built around an easy-to-use metadata model for file management, the M-Files solution is flexible and easy to use. It has several strong vertical use cases in quality management and contract management and its native Azure-based solution gives users the ability to run it as a hybrid content management model using metadata as a control mechanism.
  • Cautions: In spite of rapid expansion, it still has limited awareness and presence outside its home market. Its Microsoft-centric architecture with deep Windows integration limits its market where clients use, or prefer to use different database engines or Hadoop.

Newgen

Headquartered in New Delhi, India, Newgen now boasts offices all over the world. It is known for claims processing, finance and accounting processes, and continues to offer a subset of its solutions for smaller enterprises. It is rapidly growing its partner network.

  • Strengths: It has made significant investments in expanding into the US, as well as pushing its cloud offerings onto public clouds. It is also currently addressing new use cases related to mobile BPM and mobile content access and capture.
  • Cautions: Newgen needs to increase awareness through better positioning and marketing in its home market. Outside its home market it does not often show up on shortlists. Using BPO and cloud providers could help it expand its presence. Customers often see its implementations as complex.

Objective

Headquartered in Australia, Objective now holds sales offices in the UK and the US. The recently released version 8.1.7 includes electronic document management, records management and workflow capabilities. It supplements this with a number of functional add-ons.

  • Strengths: It has a growing portfolio of government focused applications. Its SaaS offering has gained some momentum with governments looking to securely share content across agencies. Its core platform is compliant with a wide range of global standards.
  • Cautions: It suffers from a lack of visibility in the wider ECM market, and even sometimes in its wider public sector. It has improved the usability of its offerings, but disparity still exist between its older products and current. Outside of the UK, Australia and New Zealand it is having difficulty reaching new clients. Its revenues appear to be flat.

That is the first 7 vendors that made it into the Niche Quadrant. Next week we will examine the remaining vendors in a final look at this year’s quadrant.