This may be old news to some of you, but the big boys are dying a slow and painful death. CMS vendors are an endangered species as OpenText (formally Vignette) , Autonomy (formally Interwoven) and, to a lesser extent, Documentum are experiencing the effects of a disruption of their marketplace. As a result, there are some big existential questions for them.

Disillusionment at the Enterprise Level

I personally have talked with several technology owners at some of the biggest and most successful companies in the world and every one of them feels the same way: Paying big license fees for enterprise content management makes no rational business sense. Content Management Systems and their vendors have become roughly analogous to mobile phones, sans my beloved iPhone, and the wireless carriers in that nobody loves (or even likes) what they've got. They merely tolerate them and fantasize about switching the flaws they have now for some other set of flaws that seem better than the ones that they deal with every day. While all these owners feel the same way, many of them are at different stages of acceptance around this and are diverging in how they are responding to the realization of the lack of money flowing into enterprise CMS vendors:

  • Some have already jumped ship and are using right-sized vendors. This is where the "second tier" lower-license-cost players are thriving (but I would argue that it is not for long). I have seen a number of enterprises, big and small, shelve their investments in enterprise CMS and flock to hungry "little" guys as the business partners are finally coming to realize that more functionality doesn't necessarily equal a solution to the problems of creating, controlling and curating content.
  • Some have flocked to open source. Drupal, Joomla and Wordpress are the winners in terms of adoption; however, the money here is going to flow to companies such as Acquia that host Drupal solutions for the enterprises. Acquia seems to understand the current trend to push this out of the hands and heads of the overburdened IT operations shops and into the cloud at large. 
  • Some are still planning a response. Many big enterprises are more deliberate in their IT platform shifts and are engaging Enterprise Architecture or outside consultants and analysts to do a full-scale platform evaluation. This approach has many tradeoffs with the big positive being a thoughtful understanding of both where the market is heading and how well the current offerings are aligned with the needs of their customers and users.