Discussion around the evolving role of enterprise CMS and the software that aims to do that are almost a weekly phenomenon. This week’s discussion comes in the shape of the Forrester Wave for ECM Suites for Q4, which highlights a number of issues that we already saw in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for enterprise CMS last week.

Changing Enterprise CMS

The advantage of using reports from Forrester, or Gartner, is that they provide a consistent and ongoing analysis of the different areas that affect the enterprise CMS; it is easier to track changes by reference to similar reports from the same source.

Last week with Gartner we saw that there appears to be a fundamental shift in the way enterprises are looking at enterprise CMS. This week’s Forrester Wave report confirms that change is happening, even if the kind of changes it discusses is slightly different.

For Gartner we saw that companies are looking to improve business productivity with their deployments; for Forrester, the conclusion is similar, but it goes further and suggests that content centric technologies are the  "Wave" of the future, and that enterprise CMS suites are, as we know them, in demise.

The "Wave" report, by Alan Weintraub, with Stephen Powers and Anjali Yakkundi, focuses on the 12 vendors and outlines how they are dealing with the challenges.

Enterprise CMS Q4 2011

In summary, it argues that EMC, IBM, OpenText and Oracle are still leading the posse as of the fourth quarter in 2011 --  also ranked as "Leaders" in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant -- but that Microsoft’s SharePoint is elbowing a place into this space, while a number of other "Strong Performers," like Hyland , HP and Xerox, are snapping at their heels.

Today we will look at what Forrester has identified as the main trends; tomorrow we will look at the 12 companies that are covered in the report.

The first dynamic that the Forrester report identifies shows that companies are no longer looking to a single enterprise CMS suite to solve all their content needs.

There are a number of reasons for this, but looming over them all is the fact that changing content-types and greater use of, and need to manage, unstructured content is pushing many companies to use whatever application suits, from whatever vendors are providing those applications, to solve specific business problems.

And then, of course, information workers have to be able to use all these applications.

Forrester Wave_Understand content types.jpg

Forrester Wave: ECM Q4, 2011

At the heart of this content-centric business-problem solving approach are four types of technologies:

1. Foundational Enterprise CMS

This includes basic content management functionality with a group of core technologies including library services, workflow, records management and search

2. Business Enterprise CMS

This provides capabilities that enable workers to collaborate and carry out their day-to-day business tasks. They include compound document management, enterprise rights management and team collaboration.

3.Transactional Enterprise CMS

This includes applications that drive back-office processes support the processes and integrate with content and back-office applications. Business process management, imaging and document capture and output are included here.

4. Persuasive Enterprise CMS

This supports content that influences external audiences and supports multichannel marketing and lead generation. In this category, we find web content management, digital asset management and communications management.

Fracturing Enterprise CMS Market

The result of this fracturing is that vendors themselves have started fracturing. Not that the companies have started breaking up -- in fact, we have seen even over the past 12 months considerable consolidation in the market -- but that more companies are being forced to focus on specialization.

Key players like IBM, EMC, OpenText and Oracle have until now dominated the enterprise CMS market, but that is changing now in favor of vendors that are providing applications for specific tasks, like invoice processing or contract management.

SharePoint, and in particular the new release, Forrester argues, which provides “ECM for the masses” has forced many vendors to rethink strategies and move towards more content-centric development.

As a result, competing vendors have been obliged to move toward specific content sets to differentiate themselves from it. Consequently, the market is now divided into a number of different types of players.

Traditional Enterprise CMS suite vendors

This consists of the heavyweights such as EMC, OpenText, IBM and Oracle and products in the Enterprise CMS Suite range that include everything except a coffee machine.

They focus on the management of all four content types; they are heavy and require heavy investment and a lot of time for full deployment and maintenance. The advantage is that you get everything in one.

Open source solutions

These include companies such as Alfresco and Nuxeo, and focus on the management of foundational and business content technologies. Both offer extensive enterprise CMS functionality, while Alfresco offers team and project collaboration capabilities. Vendors such as Drupal and DotNetNuke offer online persuasive initiatives.

Content-focused vendors

These focus on specific content types instead of trying to get everything to fit all. While Alfresco and Xerox have focused on managing business content, companies such as ASG, Laserfiche and Perceptive focus on transactional content. Hyland, as a smaller vendor, seems intent on taking on all comers and has been competing with the larger companies across a range of content including business, transactional and foundational content.

Cloud vendors

These are companies that offer the carrot of cheaper start-up costs. There are still fighting a battle to convince potential customers that they are secure, and that they can be integrated with legacy systems. Three vendors have emerged as cloud-only vendors: KnowledgeTree, SpringCM and Veeva Systems.

Industry-specific players

This includes vendors that have chosen to focus on specific industries and include enterprise CMS products such as Autonomy’s iManage, NetDocuments, and OpenText’s eDocs. It also includes products from various vendors for verticals like healthcare and financial.

Enterprise CMS Vendor Evaluation

To evaluate how they stack up against each other, Forrester has rated them on the following criteria:

  • Current offering: Tool breadth and extended capabilities for managing content
  • Strategy: Vendors must show coherent strategies that help them align technologies with enterprises’ information management needs
  • Market presence: Installed base, the size of the product, overall revenue and geographic presence
  • Functionality breadth: What specific functionality are vendors offering and what kind of content management they are offering
  • Leadership in information management: The kind of information management technology they are providing: business intelligence, database management, portal, collaboration technologies are examples
  • Proven enterprise-level track record: Included vendors have a solid existing consumer base among customers having revenues over US$ 1 billion annually and have proven scalability; these vendors typically have well over $25 million in revenue
  • Interest from Forrester clients: How many inquiries Forrester gets in relation to vendor products

Within that market, which is becoming increasingly competitive, Forrester says, fragmentation is key and content-centric applications are king.