Despite all the changes across the information management industry, the management of content still remains a core goal. According to Gartner’s recently released Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management (ECM), demand for Enterprise CMS continues to grow as enterprises struggle to feed business applications with appropriate content.

Gartner’s ECM Magic Quadrant

While the content focus across the industry changes from year to year, the basic problem of managing content remains. This year, enterprises have been looking to vendors to solve the problems of social content management, process-centric management and integration. Their degrees of success in solving these problems are the differentiators across the 22 vendors in this year’s report.

Interestingly, the "Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management (ECM), Q4" (note, the report is not yet available on the Gartner site) this year has shown quite a bit of movement, with most vendors included falling into either the Leaders or Niche players Quadrant, with Alfresco and Xerox in the Visionaries Quadrant and Perceptive, which is now owned by Lexmark, in the Challengers Quadrant.

The result is a market that is largely dominated by a number of large vendors, and vendors that provide solutions for a specific, identified niche. The Leaders are, in alphabetical order, EMC, Hyland, IBM, Microsoft, OpenText and Oracle.

ECM Components

However, all those that made it into the Magic Quadrant in the first place share the common goal of information management and providing the following tools, which are weighted as follows:

  • Document management: 15%
  • Image-procession applications: 18%
  • Workflow/BPM: 22%
  • Records management: 13%
  • WCM: 7%
  • Social content: 15%
  • Extended components: 10%

With a strategic approach to enterprise content management (ECM), enterprises should be able to take control of all their content, to enable other business applications to carry out their functions, including collaboration and information sharing.

As a software toolset, ECM consists of a set of capabilities and/or applications for content lifecycle management that interoperate and that can also be sold and used separately.

The set of functions listed cover the majority of enterprise information management functions in one form or another. The core functionality covered by the above is scored by Gartner with tools that include:

  1. Document management: This has been evolving for many years, but includes core capabilities like check-in/check-out and all security issues around documents, such as version control and security services for business documents. Compound document support and content replication are also in demand.
  2. Image-processing applications: In this space, vendors need to provide document capture -- scanning, OCR, form processing etc. -- natively or with 3rd party vendors. They also need to provide a way of storing documents in folders, or sending that content into a business process.
  3. Workflow/business process management (BPM): The very basic minimum here is simple document review-and-approval workflow, but Gartner scores vendors that offer graphical process builders as well as serial and parallel routing.
  4. Records management: This should provide long-term retention polices through automation to ensure legal, regulatory and industry compliance. Basic requirements include retention of critical business documents based on a records retention schedule. Higher ratings are given to those products that offer compliance with (DoD) Directive 5015.2-STD, The National Archives, etc.
  5. Web content management (WCM): This should offer content control throughout an entire web experience though the use of specific management tools, based on a core repository. This includes content creation functions like templating, workflow and change management. Minimum requirement is partnership with a Web CMS provider, with native capabilities scoring higher than partnerships.
  6. Social content: Social content, Gartner says, is the fastest growing category of content in the enterprise, with many vendors adding support for blogs, wikis and support for other online interactions. The name of this has been changed from document collaboration to social content to reflect broader audience and content types.

Overall, Gartner says, these functions should realize the following goals:

  • Effectiveness: Provide more accurate and better quality decisions.
  • Cost savings: Consolidation of diverse repositories of content and moving away from legacy tools.
  • Business Process Management: Streamlinging mission critical processes in ECM environments.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Provision of a complete lifecycle approach to information, from creation to destruction.
  • Customer retention: To manage content in interactive channels to prospects and customers.

Taken together, Gartner says, the enterprise focus on enterprise content management tools has shifted -- from an emphasis on efficiency and compliance to one that focuses on impact and tangible business results.

ECM Market Evolution

Before looking at the Leaders (which we will do in a followup article), there are a number of trends in Enterprise CMS that have emerged over the past year that are worth noting.

Gartner says that even with the growth of newer technologies like social or collaboration technologies, the Enterprise CMS market continues to grow, with total revenue in the space increasing by 11.1% over the past year to US$ 4.3 billion.

Most enterprises that have invested here are going beyond the fundamental use cases of ECM to manage tougher business issues that also require a strong process-driven element as well.

Increasingly, Gartner says, this has led many organizations to regard ECM as an environment for solutions to cater to business needs, which Gartner refers to as composite content applications (CCA’s). These types of solutions are one of the key drivers in the market.

Many vendors are also offering lightweight cloud-based environments to address emerging markets. Gartner speculates that this may be due to the larger vendors' focus on trying to keep their client bases from exploring cloud-based file sharing environments that only offer a fraction of the full ECM functionality. Some of the vendors that offer this functionality include EMC (which purchased Syncplicity), Oracle (which offers Oracle Social Network) and OpenText (which has introduced Tempo).

These types of tools are being picked up by a new generation of users who are looking for easy file sharing, collaboration and synchronization from their mobile devices, a move that is also pushing the wider ECM market.

This push comes from the returns on research into these areas, with vendors able to offer concrete returns from increased research and development budgets. It is even possible, Gartner says, that this kind of technology will become a common feature in ECM systems over the next few years, as ECM sees increased usage on mobile devices

The result, Gartner says, is a generational make-over that will see ECM moving further and further from its roots in networked back-office environments.