We’ve been saving up "Gartner’s Cool Vendor’s in Content Management" list for the past four days like a kid trying not to eat their favorite candy bar. Finally, we snapped, opened it last night and found that only four vendor’s had made this year’s list.

Just to be clear about this, the Cool Vendor’s list does not include those vendors that made into Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for ECM, which we had all kinds of fun with late last year and which we are looking forward to again this year.

Cool Content Vendors?

Again, like the Cool Vendor’s for Social CRM, which we looked at yesterday, Gartner does not provide a generic definition of ‘Coolness’, or tell companies how to be cool in the content management space.

Instead, it has taken a number of vendors -- in this case four -- and outlined why it finds those vendors particularly cool within the overall context of content management at the moment.

That context changes every year according to rising technologies; this year as general rule of thumb, Gartner has been quite clear with what it expects of cool vendors. Cool vendors it says:

… provide IT and business buyers with solutions to address their needs and help them to create and manage information better. Information is more easily accessible through the cloud and social collaboration can provide improved content management.”

Let’s just hold onto a few of those words for the moment and savour them: manage information, cloud, social, collaboration, content management.

While there’s a whole pile of developing technologies in there like social and collaboration, the bottom line is still content management, which even some of the bigger vendors out on the content prairies sometimes forget in their rush to get social, or jump to the cloud.

Three Content Issues

Normally, when discussing papers like this one, we leave the conclusions that Gartner offers until the very end, but this time, because they are so relevant, clear and concise, and because we think all vendors -- even the humongous ones -- should keep them in mind, we’re going to jump straight in.

In the content management industry, Gartner has found that:

  1. Cloud content management is becoming more and more prevalent with many vendors starting to provide functionality that gives clients extra choices when it comes to storage and content creation.
  2. Communication through the Web requires a content strategy with “search ability” and “consumability” high on the list of requirements. Cool vendors provide ways to translate and localize content more efficiently.
  3. In regulated industries information architecture and content collaboration capabilities remain especially sought after with enterprises that have still failed to introduce content governance reaping the rewards now in great, big chaotic waves.

You just have to love those findings especially those which indicates that to communicate effectively across the Web requires a content strategy; note, Gartner said content strategy, not social strategy. In this respect it is arguable that without a content strategy, social is dead in the water.

Three Things Vendors Should Do

And from all this, Garter offers three recommendations:

  1. IT departments that are moving content to the cloud should ensure that with the move the content continues to comply with requirements for security, regulatory and document control.
  2. IT and business managers must work out how new deployment and storage models are going to impact on costs, and whether those costs are justified.
  3. Before deploying cloud technologies, enterprises should focus on information governance and architecture strategy for managing content; it takes a while, but in the long run it’s worth it.

Before looking at the four vendors that feature, we'll repeat what Gartner has said before in relation to these reports; they are not exhaustive and are aimed only at highlighting interesting new and innovative vendors’ product and services.

Four Cool Vendors

All four cases focus on delivering cloud-based solutions to support the creation, management and storage of content. ECM, Gartner says, is just starting to be embraced as a cloud-based solution and it continues to be innovative in several areas, including archiving, collaborative content sharing and language translation. So in alphabetical order here they are:

1. Archive Systems

Why Cool: Archive is one of the early vendors to provide cloud-based records management. Its OmniRIM Records Center was introduced in 2011, which offers a dashboard providing a snapshot of benchmark metrics and status of the organization’s records management program. It also provides products and services for off-site storage of records.

Challenges: At the moment there is a mindset across most industries that says records management is, and should only be, an on premises solution. Archive is battling that. OmniRIM is also primarily focused on physical records and although it provides support for electronic records it still needs to demonstrate scalability to manage large electronic repositories. It is also facing considerable competition from large ECM vendors, most of whom have a records management product.

Who Cares? Companies looking to simplify their records management deployments, while highly regulated verticals will benefit from easy to deploy software without the need for extensive infrastructure.

2. Acrolinx

Why Cool: Takes as its starting point data quality and applies content analytics that offers ways to improve content and linguistic fidelity so that textual copy makes better sense to human readers and machines alike. Users accustomed to seeing the "wiggly lines" of the spell- and grammar-check function as they write, prompting changes and improvements. Acrolinx uses this to attract users via a search engine relevancy calculation.

Challenges: Convincing content creators that they will benefit from a machine-driven quality process will be difficult in the face of arguments that content quality cannot be machine judged. Machine optimization may inadequately address search engine optimization because rapid iterations of relevancy calculators may make it difficult for it to keep up with up with updates.

Who Cares? Webmasters, content owners, and online channel optimization managers. Anyone responsible for transparency for large volumes of content.

3. Brainloop

Why Cool: Brainloop is, according to Gartner, one of the few vendors that offers collaboration, security and compliance management in an online collaboration environment. The basis of it is a secure cloud-based workspace that is populated with compliance technologies, with a two-factor authentication key.

Challenges: While addressing compliance can only be welcomed, it also creates the typical challenge faced by enterprises focusing on niche areas; it prevents widespread adoption.

Many larger organizations will try to add more security to a widely deployed ECM than add a specific system for a small and singular purpose. They will do this by adding new modules to their existing system. Brainloop will, therefore, have to move out of an area that seems best suited to small or midsize business solutions.

Who Cares? Legal, compliance, intellectual property protection and information management professionals in regulated industries.

4. Lingotek

Why Cool: Takes a novel approach to translation. Offers translation technologies combined with workflows to drive down the overall translation costs for companies. It enables administrators to decide what content is translated by professionals, while content that doesn’t need such precision can be sent to a community or gets translated by machines.

Lingotek's Collaborative Translation Platform can be deployed on-premises, hosted in the cloud, or embedded inside any Web application. It also uses social concepts to develop a marketplace for high-quality lower-cost translation along sixth partnerships with Drupal, Microsoft and Oracle communities.

Challenges: Has very stiff competition from localization gorillas like Lionbridge and SDL that can close the gap on Lingotek’s market differentiator: its ability to focus on social media and its fostering of a translation marketplace.

Who Cares: Webmasters, content owners, IT leaders of ECM initiatives and business and IT
leaders focused on customer sales and service.

And there are the Cool Vendors this year. There are undoubtedly other companies that are doing very cool things in the content and enterprise content management space and before potential buyers start handing out money, they should have a good hard look at this and Gartner’s Magic Quadrant.