The digitalization of work is impacting everything, even the relatively staid world of enterprise content management (ECM). 

Although ECM has been slow to change over the past five years, the consumerization of enterprise technologies is creating rapid changes.

It's also impacting on search, on the use of insight engines in the enterprise, on the way enterprises are using enterprise file sync and share technologies, and the way workers surface and use content.

Digital Transformation And Content

Indeed, digital transformation is changing the content management landscape so rapidly that enterprise leaders risk being left behind unless they follow the way workers are using technology. "These consumerized tools have brought that digital transformation to the masses,” Joe Mariano, one of the co-authors of Gartner's recently released report on cool vendors for content management.

“Before, you had to have an IT background to understand digital transformation. Now the tools are easier to understand; the tools have been simplified. To surface data, for example, you now simply put a query into the system in natural language — you just ask the question the same you would ask a human being. This kind of functionality, whether it be in insight engines or in consumerized products like Box or Dropbox, are growing. And that's better for users and better for business. It’s almost a reinvigoration [of ECM] because of this consumerization."

The new Cool Vendor list for content management contains three vendors, as well as a look a Metalogix in a “where are the now” kind of way. Washington DC-based Metalogix first entered the Cool Vendor list in 2010 but evolved so much that Gartner moved it off. Mariano said he included the company in the report again because what Metalogix is doing in the Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365 space is making it ‘cool’ again.

The three other cool companies are:

All three vendors were included this year for their abilities to connect the right people with the right information. In an analysis of the market, the authors wrote that while traditional monolithic content applications good for developing structured repositories for unstructured data they are limited.

"These systems have limited functionality for sharing and collaborating outside the firewall or surface information according the role or needs of the users," Mariano said. "The landscape is changing and vendors are increasingly being forced to break down repository walls to deliver content to where it is needed for sharing and collaboration as a 'need it now' mindset takes hold in enterprises because of changes in the way people work."

If the right information is not delivered to the right people – sales teams, for example -  business deals and transactions will slow down, and wrong or outdated information will be fed into enterprise processes, giving competitors an edge.

Using tools like those provided by Kaleo or Bloomfire, workers can carry out searches in the terms used by clients and provide answers based on how similar queries have been answered in the past. They can also identify which data and documents have been surfaced in the past to responds to queries. The third vendor, AeroFS, is an EFSS that pulls information from multiple repositories using familiar user experiences, thereby encouraging enterprises to use cloud-based applications they would normally be reluctant to touch.

Insights and Search

“It was interesting when we were putting this one together this year. It organically became about insights and search and being able to find information better,” Mariano added.

“I think that this is a huge piece of this. It's not that people have a single content management repository anymore. Instead, they have an ECM, they have a EFSS, they have Salesforce, they have ERPs and they want to be able to search easily against all of them. To compound that, these tools really take the wind out of all the current generations of search engines, which can be good, but never great,” he said.

3 Cool Vendors

The solution: Insight Engines, which search all repositories using natural language queries.

“Natural language throws up the best answer possible [to queries] based on analytics, based on what other people have searched, based on what other people have updated,” Mariano said. So why did these three vendors make it onto the list?

Kaleo Software

Kaleo provides cloud-based services that offers a way of distributing data across the enterprise and integrates with common business apps including email, productivity suites and line-of-business apps. With it users can ask questions and receive answers in their working environment rather than switch to a separate query interface.

It has recently expanded its capabilities to include predictive knowledge sharing, machine learning, natural-language processing and text analytics.

Risk: It competes against established vendors that offer social, business process and content management systems along with curated knowledge bases and expertise location.

Who uses it: Information managers looking for something that can be easily used by business users.

Bloomfire

Bloomfire offers applications that bridge the gaps between people, expertise and information across the organization. It also provides content moderation and discoverable groups, video, Google analytics and tag recommendation through IBM Watson making this a very “cool” social content management platform.

Risk: Faces competition from consumerization IT apps like Box and Dropbox. The report points out that business consumers are looking for free tools that they choose and feel empowered by.

Who uses it: Digital workplace leaders across HR, search managers, information architects, sales, marketing, training, learning, innovation, product development or customer service.

AeroFS

AeroFS enables modern file collaboration through smart routing, which includes a combination of peer-to-peer technology, a central virtual appliance acting as a management layer and an optional central storage repository. It also provides email optimization feature through attachment management, implemented at server side.

Risk: It is operating in what has to be the most competitive business IT space at the moment and some of its competitors already market hybrid cloud and on-premises offerings.

Who uses it: Organizations that are not comfortable with architectures based on a central repository who seek modern file collaboration capabilities.