The Enterprise Content Management (ECM) market is changing again. According to the recently published Forrester Wave for ECM for 2013, vendors are being pushed to provide new functionality that addresses productivity goals in the enterprise, with flexibility and ease-of-use now key requirements. Meanwhile, smaller, functionality specific vendors are starting to eat away at the leadership position of the traditional heavyweights. 

ECM Market Dynamic

It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone watching the Enterprise CMS market that Forrester has found signs of these changes everywhere, but the comprehensive nature of the changes are slightly surprising. Previously, the traditional large vendors could, and did, change at their own pace, which meant slow progress across the entire market.

However, with agility, mobility and cloud offerings now commonplace, and with deployments a lot easier to install with a lot less initial capital expenditure in the case of cloud offerings, the entire market is undergoing fundamental change.

In the first part of our look at Forrester’s Wave for Enterprise Content Management 2013 we will examine the forces that are currently driving the market. Later we will review at specific trends in more detail as well as note the Leaders and Strong Performers.

Better Content Management

Behind all the changes is the fact that users are now looking for ways to better manage content, which, given the diversity of the content that they now work with, is forcing vendors to change, or streamline, the kind of functionality they provide.

For the purposes of this research, Forrester assessed the offerings of 13 of the main providers in the market at the moment. The list below outlines who they are and what product was assessed:

Forrester Wave  ECM 2013 Vendors and Products.jpg

From this, Forrester has defined the enterprise content management market according to the way the content is used, and whether that content is being used to support customer-facing activities, or internal company activities.

Over the past couple of years, the technologies to manage customer-facing content has become a category of the customer experience landscape (CXM) and explains the constant overstepping of the boundaries between Enterprise CMS and CXM.

Technologies for internal use falls into three categories:

  • Foundational ECM: Provides the traditional functionality associated with enterprise CMS. It offers services like check-in/check-out, permissions, archiving, business workflow functions as well as support for records management and search.
  • Business content: These are technologies that drive the day-to-day workplace experience and include the management of things like office documents, spreadsheets and multimedia. This kind of content drives a wide range of business activities.
  • Transactional content: This drives the back office processes. This kind of content generally comes from outside the enterprise and relies on complex workflows, or business process management (BPM).

All vendors assess in the Wave were assessed under these three criteria.

Forrester Wave  ECM 2013 Confent Centric Technologies.jpg


Vendors’ Take-On Productivity

After assessing the vendors, Forrester concludes that there is a fundamental shift happening in the market at the moment, which has forced vendors over the past 6 years to change their focus from providing products to meet compliance, to providing products that improve functionality. Organizations, Forrester says, are looking for ways derive business value form their content. This shift has resulted in 4 different fundamental changes:

1. Solving Business Problems

Organizations appear to have realized that an ECM suite will not meet all their needs. They are also looking for concrete ROI benefits from investments. Forrester says that a May 2013 survey showed that most are getting best value from transactional solutions that focused on automating processes.

2. New Technologies, Market Disruption

The report also found that new technologies are creating significant market disruption. End users are adopting collaboration technologies to share and access information, and expanding the file share interface to share information between colleagues and partners, often outside the firewall. These products are currently outside enterprise control and pose significant compliance problems.

3. Users Expect Mobility

Work-anywhere has become the new mantra and users now expect their enterprise systems to facilitate this. Users are looking for new systems of engagement focusing on their work context, and not the work processes. This means vendors are being forced to extend functionally from the enterprise to mobile devices.

4. Usability and Flexibility

While Enterprise CMS offers huge advantages to users, enterprise architects are being forced to develop ways to entice users to work on them. The result is an attempt to provide folder structures users are familiar with as well as the ability to customize interfaces.

Vendors Respond To Changing Demands

Vendors, it seems are listening to workers and listening to the needs of enterprises. Forrester says that ECM decision makers have started to look for more agile deployments in order to improve user adoption and productivity. Vendors with poorly, or under-developed roadmaps are not going to make the grade. Specifically, vendors are responding in 6 ways:

1. Interface Love

Many vendors have invested in development of their interfaces in response to enterprise workers’ demands. SharePoint and document sync-and-share vendors are also putting pressure on vendors to provide simpler, customizable user experiences. The Wave’s Leaders have been particularly strong on this point with IBM and HP Autonomy both offering easy-to-customize approaches. OpenText bought Resonate KT to offer a UI toolkit, while M-Files offers a novel metadata and search driven UI.

2. ECM As Platform

First identified in the Forrester 2011 Wave, enterprise CMS continues to evolve into content-centric technologies with vendors offering their customers the ability to deliver content, or process-centric applications. They are also offering toolkits enabling business users (rather than developers) build their own applications. In this respect, Forrester cites Alfresco’s acquisition of Workdesk, and OpenText’s acquisition of Metastorm as examples of vendors buying this capability where they don’t already possess it.

3. Customizable ECMs

Many vendors are making it easier for solution providers to design applications and customize systems. Proprietary applications and APIs are being phased out in favor of web services. Eclipse, JavaScript, jQuery, and REST support is on the rise.

4. Open source and Open standards

Many vendors are now turning to open source software and open standards to get enhancements out quicker, and to avoid having to do this by writing code from scratch. In this respect, Forrester cites Alfresco as a pioneer in the creation of open source ECM. It also describes Apache Lucene/Solr as the go-to search engine of choice for ECM vendors.

5. ECM and Cloud Computing

Since 2011, vendors in the Forrester Wave have moved quickly to provide a range of hosted services, private cloud, and public cloud offerings for their core products. Hyland has been particularly successful here with more than 700 deployments already, while M-Files, which has made it into the Wave this year for the first time, offers what Forrester describes as one of the truly hybrid offerings in the Wave. Established vendors like EMC, HP Autonomy, and OpenText have all been able to do this through acquisitions, while Microsoft has also pushed SharePoint online. That said, most vendors’ clients are still in the early stages of moving to the cloud.

6. Niche Players, Core Competencies

Niche players are starting to emerge as a significant force, offering solutions that are industry-specific, or offering a specific kind of content management focus. Forrester cites the example of iDatix in the southeastern US that provides transactional content management, enabling two-way application integration with little customization. Cloud-only ECM providers like SpringCM offer line-of-business applications in the cloud, while Nuxeo provides extensibility, enabling users to develop and build their own applications.

Next up -- we will look at the vendors that made it into the Wave in more detail and the criteria they had to meet to do so.