It’s been a busy year in the information management space. With the year fast coming to a close we note a time of substantial change across the entire landscape which shows the increasing importance of social business, the lack-luster performance of the enterprise content management space and, like everywhere else, an increasingly speedy move to the cloud.

Market Consolidation

There have been some surprising moves in terms of consolidation as bigger vendors continue to buy the technologies they need to complete their portfolios rather than develop those technologies themselves, but the principal trend across the entire landscape is a blurring of the lines between the different elements that make up the information market space.

Within that market falls technologies like analytics, cloud computing and even enterprise content management as vendors adapt to a market that is becoming increasingly social.

All the technologies that help enterprises manage their data now fall into this space. Many applications that previously might have covered enterprise content management exclusively are now endowed with abilities normally associated with areas like, for example, customer experience management.

One contributor we engaged with during the year even went so far as to suggest that knowledge management is dead, eliciting a wave of responses from other readers, none of whom could seem to agree on it. But we'll see more of that later.

Information Management and Economy

Another notable issue over the course of the year was economic conditions. Earlier this year, Forrester predicted that investment in Enterprise CMS would bounce back after a lackluster year in 2011.

It will be a few weeks before official figures for 2012 come out, but anecdotal evidence suggests that investment was slower than anticipated and that the Enterprise CMS market did not achieve the levels of business hoped for.

This was, and is, nothing to do with the perceived usefulness of these applications, but rather the effects of a sluggish economy that makes large scale capital investments in IT projects difficult at the moment.

Information Management, Cloud Computing

That is not to say that enterprises don't need applications that can manage content. This year we have also seen the emergence of a solution to this problem: information and content management in the cloud.

Increasingly vendors are offering enterprises access to content management through the cloud. The advantages of this are many, and we took a look at them on many occasions over year, seeing it change even the way businesses are doing business. So what were the highlights this year?

There were many releases over the years and many turning points. Below are some of the points that we thought were key, but you may disagree. Let us know and we can revisit this again earlier in the New Year.

1. OpenText’s Social Analytics

In January, OpenText, which has been operating in the social business space for quite some time continued its push in this space with the release of Web and Social Analytics application v2.0.

This solution blurred the line between social business and customer experience management by adding capabilities that offered more information on enterprise clients than had been available before, and considerably quicker than was possible before.

2. Enterprise Content Migration

Also in January, Nitin Mehta, a content management consultant at HCL, looked at how Enterprise CMS is changing and in particular how significant migration technologies are in this space.

This is particularly true of a shifting Enterprise CMS vendor landscape, which has seen a huge move towards consolidation in the last few years.

The total to be spent on data migration was projected to be roughly US$ 8 billion in 2012 and considering that more than 80% of data is unstructured, the Enterprise CMS migration market looked set to blossom.

3. Alfresco v4

In February, after a lot of speculation, Afresco released Alfresco 4, which pushed this open content management platform into the mobile and social space, a move that was replicated by many other vendors across the information management landscape.

Todd Barr, CEO of Alfresco, in an interview before the launch told CMSWire that the planning on this had been extensive and was part of a concerted strategy to bring content management to where business users want it to be at the moment -- on the road and in the cloud.

4. Knowledge Management Is Dead

Author Roan Yong, an expert on intranets, posted one of the most read contributions of the year, creating considerably interest when he declared that knowledge management is dead, or at least that it would die over the course of 2012.

He also postulated that it would be reborn as social business, and that social business management would replace content management as king. Over the months we saw ample evidence to suggest he might be right, but also evidence to suggest he may have shot wide of the target. For the moment, though, there are five big trends to note:

  • Proliferation and rapid adoption of social technology
  • Proliferation and rapid adoption of mobile platform
  • Increasing adoption of cloud technology
  • Application of Big Data to Business Intelligence
  • The rise of Gen-Y in organizations

5. Business Intelligence Magic Quadrant

Gartner also had a lot to say about all this. In the Business Intelligence Magic Quadrant it described a market that is dominated by demands from businesses to come up with new ways of accessing and interpreting business data.

Gartner says this is a mature market that is expanding at a rapid rate. The result is a high level of innovation across the market, coupled with significant and widespread acquisitions over the past five years.

6. Enterprise CMS Investments

Forrester was also busy researching the market, but the Enterprise CMS market this time.  It suggested that companies will be investing again in ECM in the coming year.

Even the title of the research by Alan Weintraub -- "Enterprise Content Management Emerges from an Economic Slump" -- suggests a better year for enterprise content management vendors, even if cloud computing, mobile content access and enterprise collaboration are among the main drivers of this surge.

That however, was not really what happened. There were signs of growth, but they were considerably slower than expected.

7. Dynamics 2012 Roadmap

In March, Microsoft published its roadmap for Dynamics, which included a lot of information about Dynamics in the cloud and how Microsoft is going to bring it there.

The roadmap did not come with precise dates or functionality lists, but it is instructive and does show where Microsoft is going to take it in the coming months.

8. Cool Vendors in Content Management

Changes in the content management market were reflected in further research during the month of May and appeared in Gartner's "Cool Vendor’s in Content Management" list.

Interestingly, only four vendors made it onto the list this year, although all those vendors that made it onto the Magic Quadrant were also automatically excluded from it. Again the emphasis changed from previous years, this time to reflect the interest enterprises were showing in social business technologies and cloud computing.

9. Social Content and Context

In June we took a visit to the Advanced Intranet+Portal Conference in Amsterdam where Dan Latendre, CEO of Igloo, outlined why he believes the future will be built around social content context, cloud collaboration.

We heard that the importance of content is changing so that now the context of that content is really where things are at. At the heart of this is the next set of emerging trends in content: Social, mobile and cloud.

And he has, since the company was established in 2008, built it around this principal. Igloo, he says, is not an IT company, but a company that provides services; a company that provides and installs Igloo’s software, but a services company nevertheless, in the SaaS sense of the term.

10. Data Center Problems

Even with all the progress, though, Garter found at the end of August that many enterprises were still avoiding data centers, PaaS and SaaS for critical data issues and storage.

It also showed that organizations that need to share data or content with third-parties have a number of different approaches to risk management.

Digging deeper into the research entitled "Survey Analysis: Assessment Practices for Cloud, SaaS and Partner Risks, 2012", it also seems that business critical information is still being stored on-premises rather than in the cloud. For cloud computing this remains a challenge in the year ahead, and probably even further into the future than that.

11. Information Managementg Strategies

Also this year, OpenText defined its information strategy, which was instructive in that it firstly, it highlighted how the lines between the different information management disciplines are becoming blurred, and secondly for the elements that OpenText considers important. Those elements consist of:

  • Enterprise content management
  • BPM
  • Customer Experience Management
  • Information Exchange
  • Discovery

12. Cloud Computing Is Shaping Your Business

With the year coming to a close, we took one last visit to the relationship between cloud computing and business.

The research produced by an IT Channel Insight report , "The Cloud Leaders’ Report 2012" pulls together the results of a number of interviews done with some of the players that are currently shaping the cloud computing industry.

It shows that the vast majority (81%) of vendors interviewed recommended hybrid deployments consisting of a mixture of on-premises and cloud solutions. Enterprises, they say, should not move everything to the cloud.

And it is at this point that 2013 begins. Enterprises are moving to the cloud, but in hybrid environments rather than pure cloud deployments. This undoubtedly will be one of the major themes of the next 12 months.