It's that time of year again. The researchers at Gartner retreat into seclusion at their hidden compound and combine the secret ingredients needed to create the Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management. Some people rub their hands, some shake their heads, and some scoff.
In reality, the magicians at Gartner spend a few extra hours in their cubicles, have a few extra meetings, and go through a few extra dry-erase markers to create the newest version of the ECM rating system.
Unlike the Department of Mysteries, Gartner is open and honest about the spell they use to create the report. First of all, only commercial software companies are included. From a credibility perspective, the exclusion of open source ECM providers and SaaS (On Demand) options will not help the acceptance of the magic quadrant as gospel.
While it is indisputable that the enterprise content management market is dominated by a small number of commercial vendors, ignoring the impact of open source vendors such as Alfresco and Nuxeo or SaaS content management providers such as SpringCM and Astoria does little to enforce the soundness of the report.
Secondly, the companies that did make the cut for consideration are graded along two axises:
* Ability to Execute: This criteria measures an organization's success at selling and supporting both its ECM products and services from a global perspective.
* Completeness of Vision: This criteria deals with a company's potential and helps to separate the vendors who are focused solely on the short-term from the vendors who have a more long-term view of the ECM market.
Based on these criteria, the four quadrants and the companies therein:
# Leaders: IBM (FileNet), EMC Documentum, Open Text, Oracle (Stellent)
While there are no surprises with the group of companies that make up the "Leaders" bracket, it is interesting to note that three of the four are the result of acquisitions with only Open Text being a pure-play ECM vendor.
# Visionaries: Interwoven, Vignette, Xerox, Microsoft, Day Software, Xythos
Perhaps the most interesting group, these organizations cannot currently match the scale of the "Leaders" but they have considerable potential because they already outperform the "Leaders" in at least one area.
# Challengers: Hyland Software
According to Gartner, the lack of vision exhibited by Hyland Software is keeping them from becoming a leader.
# Niche Players: Tower Software, SAP, Objective, EVER TEAM, Cimage, SunGard Data Systems
Whether it is a secondary focus on Enterprise CMS (e.g., SAP) or being limited to a certain geographical area (e.g., Objective), these are the companies that Gartner believes have a place in the market but are not legitimate threats to the "Leaders".
While this report will make interesting lunch conversation for many senior level executives, there are few companies that have the capital or the need to implement the enterprise solutions provided by the vendors in the "Leaders" quadrant. Furthermore, we encourage you to remember that managing enterprise content and infrastructure is a process that is different for every organization. Be wary of the idea of a leader. Think in scenarios. Look at the historical root of the product options. And before buying make sure you've found a solution that matches your organization's personality as closely as possible.
This report has already stirred up a bit of controversy across the web. We encourage you to read for yourself and share with us dear reader, your most insightful opinions.