As 2010 winds down, it is time to look back at the year that was and forward to the next one. The past year's trends will continue to heavily influence the world of content management well into 2011.

SharePoint 2010, Case Management, the redefinition of Web Content Management (read: WEM) and the cloud are the trends that will continue to evolve and surge into 2011.

The SharePoint Wave Crests

This year seemed to be dominated by SharePoint 2010 at times. In reality, it was mostly hype. Many people were learning more and trying to plan for the new version, but there wasn’t overwhelming adoption.

At the SharePoint Symposium in November, there were a lot of people still trying to learn about the benefits of upgrading and how to approach the task. Among my own clients, the only upgrades performed were those with smaller installations.

2011 will continue a pair of SharePoint trends. The first is the continuation of the SharePoint 2010 theme. Upgrades will begin happening widely as people determine that they are ready to move forward and take advantage of the enhanced functionality of SharePoint 2010.

The other trend will be the increased focused upon properly managing and governing SharePoint. As many organizations are learning while planning to upgrade to SharePoint 2010, there is a large number of sites out there of which IT has very little awareness. As organizations prepare to move forward with SharePoint 2010, expect a lot more emphasis on the governance of their SharePoint system.

Case Management Distracts ECM Vendors

You couldn’t get away from Case Management this year if you were anywhere in the Enterprise Content Management space.

Intelligent Case Management, Adaptive Case Management and Advanced Case Management were terms scattered throughout the marketplace as established content management vendors looked to sell more focused solutions instead of pure content management.

This trend will continue in the coming year. While the vendors may pull back a little on the marketing message, it will still likely be their primary focus. They will all strengthen their Case Management offerings in the coming year. The important detail to watch for is to see if the rest of the Content Management offerings from these vendors suffers from lack of attention.

Managing the Content or the Engagement?

There has been a lot of discussion this past year about Web Engagement Management. The addition of managing the users’ engagement/experience has been generally accepted, but people look at the “Web” in the term and wonder if that is too confining. On the flip side, there have been those that have been reminding people that traditional Web Content Management systems still have their place.

My favorite question asked this year was, “Do customers want to engage with you?” Many people just want quick information. They are turning to the web and their phones for that information. They don’t want an experience, they just want content, now.

In the next year, I expect this discussion to continue. This won’t be just a change in the term, but a realization that WEM and WCM are distinctly different. Some vendors will focus on one or the other, but others will try and tackle them both. Only time will tell if those vendors tackling both will be able to succeed.

The Cloud Gains Form

Another year brought us another load of hype about the cloud. The difference now is that people are beginning to become aware that there are different ways to use the cloud. The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) approach to the cloud has begun to regain its own identity. This will be very important in the content management space as consumers start looking past simple hosting to the full benefits of SaaS.

Those benefits are crucial to realizing the full benefit of the cloud. Organizations have been offloading their systems to hosting sites for years. The benefits that they really want are the automatic upgrade of software and the flexibility to quickly scale up or down their systems based upon demand. SaaS offers those benefits, so it will be interesting to watch those offerings mature and become widespread in the marketplace.

Another Year

These trends will shape the content management market in the year to come, but to the everyday person, the problem will remain the same, “Have content, need order.” Like all trends, the ones cited above are just means to achieve the ultimate goal of managing content. New trends emerge every year. It is important to not get swept away by any trend and to keep focus on the ultimate goal -- making content available to those that need it, when they need it.