Gartner, everyone's favourite research firm, has read the ECM tea leaves and expects its global market to grow at a rate of 12 percent per year. If that growth rate holds true, by 2010 the worldwide market for content management will be valued at a whopping US$ 4.2 billion.
The reason for this expected growth can be found on the hundreds of thousands of hard drives inside the computers used by corporate workers across the globe. This "unstructured data" includes word processing documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and rich media files that need control and maintenance.
If companies hope to automate their business processes, increase efficiency and lower costs, then the content strewn across global networks must be made available to employees, customers, partners, and software applications.
Tom Eid, research vice president for Gartner, had these remarks to make about the future of the ECM market: "For many organizations, unstructured content is fundamentally out of control [...] Employees are creating all types of content for internal and external use with delivery through both formal and informal channels (such as wikis and blogs)."
The good news for users is that, though a certain amount of consolidation in the market is expected, Gartner believes that the quality, performance, and usability of content management technologies will continue to improve.
The obvious question is, who's going to lead the way for all this enterprise content management growth? For the answer, look no further than Armonk, NY and IBM.
According to Gartner (what don't these guys know?), IBM attained the #1 spot in the market by demonstrating 12 percent growth in 2006 over 2005. This growth can be attributed to new interest in web content management, records management and content archiving.
Lee Roberts, general manager of Enterprise Content Management for IBM, said, "We are committed to supporting both the FileNet and IBM enterprise content management platforms and are focused on helping clients preserve their investments in existing content repositories, data and applications [...] IBM's comprehensive enterprise content management portfolio is enabling clients to better compete and pursue new business opportunities by using information as a strategic asset."
For those focused more on the "now," Gartner says the projections above are supported by the fact that revenue for the enterprise content management market will total US$ 2.9 billion for 2007, an increase of 12.8 percent from 2006.
It suffices to say that despite new competition popping up almost daily and looming concerns about consolidation, this is a good time to be in the ECM space.