My previous post discussed the three ECM vendors (EMC, IBM and OpenText) that Ovum named as Market Leaders in its report: “Decision Matrix: Selecting a Content Management Application Vendor.” With this article, we'll take a look at the vendors named Market Challengers and Followers.

Neither this article, nor its predecessor should be substituted for the actual report which is lengthy and offers detailed information and advice which could be key to making a vendor selection.

It’s worth noting that Ovum suggests that CIOs and other decision makers weigh their Enterprise CMS options carefully and according to their specific situations, because the observed lifespan of an ECM deployment is five to seven years (according to Ovum) and the expense can reach into seven figures.

Autonomy and Oracle Named ECM Market Challengers

Ranking just below Ovum’s Market Leaders is the Market Challengers category. These platforms were selected because Ovum sees them as well-positioned in the marketplace, because they provide competitive ECM functionality and good price-performance propositions, and because of the strengths of their sales and marketing programs.

Autonomy

Ovum considers Autonomy to be a “relative newcomer” to the ECM platform space because it lacked a best-of-breed Web Content Management (WCM) component prior to its purchase of Interwoven in 2009.

Now that its suite of ECM modules is complete and integrated via its single processing layer called IDOL (intelligent data operating layer), Ovum says that Autonomy might soon be able to give the market leaders a run for their money. Before that happens, a tighter integration between its components may be needed.

Ovum makes two other significant points: first, that Autonomy offers “significant” cloud capability with data centers worldwide which gives its clients the ability to store data in different regions according to varying regulations. And second, that Autonomy was acquired by HP in October and though it functions as a separate operating unit, it may be able to leverage HP’s capture, output and other storage technologies to further strengthen its offerings.

Oracle

Oracle is a fairly new entrant to the Content Management space; it didn’t have much impact in ECM until it purchased Stellent. Ovum notes that since that time, Oracle has added to its portfolio of ECM offerings by making acquisitions (such as FatWire) and building out Web Center. From a technical perspective, Ovum sees Oracle as now offering many of the same capabilities as the ECM market leaders.

An important part of Oracle’s strategy, according to Ovum, is to embed ECM functionalities into its popular and widely used enterprise applications, thereby enabling both content-centric and people-centric processes.

At this point Oracle’s market challenge is creating awareness of its ECM offerings, especially outside its current customer base.

Market Followers: Alfresco and SharePoint

Ovum says that CIO’s and others making ECM selections might want to include Alfresco and SharePoint on the list of products they look at. While Ovum notes these solutions may be limited in terms of functionality, applicability and/or vendor execution, they may still be worthwhile choices.

Alfresco

Unlike other vendors discussed thus far, Ovum points out that Alfresco has built its ECM product from scratch using top of the line open source components. As a result, it is not only free from using its resources to support immature versions of legacy products, but it also presents a clean and tightly integrated product. Its close integration with SharePoint and web-like search interface are likely to increase user adoption.

At the time Ovum wrote its report, Alfresco provided EDRM, WCM, IM (Image Management) and DAM, which were evaluated to be as mature as the leader's products.

Though Alfresco is still relatively new to the market, it’s easily accessible and may be an ideal entry for companies acquiring their first ECM products or looking to move to a newer, Open Source CMS solution. It’s worth noting that Alfresco can be evaluated free via a hosted trial of its Enterprise edition or a free download of its Community or Team versions.

Ovum believes that Alfresco will present a significant challenge to ECM leaders in the next 24 months.

Microsoft

Ovum hesitates to call SharePoint an ECM platform; instead it sees it as a “horizontal collaborative platform for the storage and sharing of information with, latterly, a range of records management (RM) functionality.” That being said, the analyst concedes that SharePoint occupies significant content management mindshare (driven by partner marketing) and generates significant revenue (though “not all deployments are full ECM deployments”).

SharePoint’s strength, according to Ovum, resides in its handling of user-generated content and that its collaboration and social software capabilities are integrated with Microsoft’s Office Suite and a whole host of third-party products.

According to Ovum’s study, SharePoint’s weaknesses seem to reside not in how the product is actually used or in user experiences, but in its failing to offer the full suite of components and functionalities of the market leaders.