Yesterday we saw in the Forrester Wave for Enterprise CMS Suites 2011 for Q4 that there is a shift in the enterprise CMS market away from the big, lumbering giants of a couple of years ago toward more content-centric apps designed to fulfill a specific business function. Today, we’ll take a look at how some of the major vendors are dealing with this challenge.

Before looking at them, though, let's take a quick look at the methodology Forrester used to pick the 12 vendors it assessed; that way no one can be accused of bias in relation to one product over another and preserve us all from heated discussions on the matter.

So how did Forrester arrive at the list of 12 vendors, and why this 12? There are, after all, as many vendors as there are grains of sand on a beach -- well, actually that’s an exaggeration because there isn’t, but there sure are a lot of them.

Forrester says it developed the list from an initial pool of vendors that was narrowed down based on:

  • Product fit
  • Customer success
  • Forrester client demand

Vendors that had limited customer references and products that didn’t fit the scope of the evaluation were eliminated. The evaluation criteria were then drawn up based on product qualification, lab evaluations, questionnaires and demos with client references.

Evaluations were sent to the vendors for their review and the evaluations were adjusted to provide a better view of the offerings.

Forrester, in devising these criteria, gave default weightings to reflect the needs of large user companies and/or other scenarios as outlined in the Forrester Wave report.

This is an important point and one that should be kept in mind looking at the companies as it means not all vendors were even considered, with a considerable number excluded.

Ultimately, like the Gartner Magic Quadrant reports, they only reflect a segment of the market; any company that is considering investing should consider all vendors in the market to provide the kind of products the enterprise is looking and not base it solely on the contents of these reports.

The Four Horsemen of Enterprise CMS

As an overview of the market then, Forrester titles with the interesting heading: The Four Horsemen lead while role players address specific content areas. We quote this verbatim to show that it is Forrester that came up with the apocalyptic reference, and not us.

In case you weren’t aware, the Four Horsemen in question are: EMC, IBM, OpenText and Oracle

If you wanted a proper analogy, though, devil worship might be better place to start. Placing your trust in large enterprise CMS suites to do everything your enterprise needs to get done is like holding a Black Mass; an interesting concept, but ultimately pointless -- what you’re waiting to appear for just ain’t gonna happen.

Opinions aside, this is the point of this "Wave" report: Businesses are slowly coming around to the realization that, to carry out business needs, they will probably have to turn to specific applications, rather than all-encompassing suites -- the point being that they really aren’t all encompassing at all.

Turning back to the apocalyptic horsemen, Forrester has identified a market where:

  • EMC, IBM, OpenText and Oracle continue to lead the pack across all enterprise CMS technologies, delivering comprehensive suites of technology that can provide wide spectrums of functionality.
  • Microsoft has extended the enterprise CMS use of SharePoint, enabling it to move into two of the technology areas that we identified yesterday: Foundational and business. The lack of support for the imaging and output management technologies leaves Microsoft as a Contender in the transactional area.
  • Hyland just keeps building out its functionality to address new technology areas such as team collaboration technology, or records management. It doesn’t have a lot of support for persuasive or global enterprise deployments, which is holding it back.
  • ASG, HP, Laserfiche, Perceptive and Xerox provide rich functionality with a narrow focus, offering capabilities aimed at specific technology areas.
  • Open-source Alfresco continues to develop as an alternative to proprietary players with its focus on foundational and business content providing organizations with a low-cost alternative

Forrester Wave ECM 2011 Q4 Overall
Forrester Wave ECM 2011 Q4 Overall