Enterprise Content Management isn’t what it used to be. Well-established vendors have expanded their core competence.  So much so, in fact, that earlier this month Forrester released a brand new Wave around it.

It looks at Enterprise Content Management (ECM) vendors through a Transactional Content Services lens, as opposed to evaluating them on the management of business content, which continues to have its own Wave.

One easy way to differentiate between the two categories is by looking at where business content is created and consumed. if it’s outside the firewall, more often than not, we’re looking at transactional content.  This according to Forrester analyst Craig Le Clair, the lead author of the report.

Content Involved in Transactions

Anyone who has been to one of the larger, vendor led ECM conferences in the past five years has seen a transactional content services demo.

It usually starts with a driver who calls his insurance company about an accident that he has just had and then follows the activities that come after — a visit from the insurance adjuster, an estimate on the repair and so on…

If you haven’t seen that one, there’s another that follows a driver as he applies for an automobile insurance policy. And still another that involves the content rich process of applying for a mortgage. You get the idea.

Le Clair said organizations must keep records of the content involved in these processes and that, up until recently, working with such content hasn’t been easy.

“You’d have to leave one application and go to another, or the experience wasn’t user friendly,” he added. That now had seems to have changed. Some of the most marked improvements seem to be around Search (Le Clair said the current experience is more like Google, Analytics, and Mobile access via tablets (this capability seems like a “must have” for an insurance adjuster.)

Meet the Leaders

All of that being said, who are the top vendors providing ECM Transactional Content Services software?

Forrester pegs EMC, IBM, Lexmark Enterprise Software, OnBase by Hyland and OpenText as Leaders. ”They offer mature, and more importantly, complete offerings across content analytics, strength of architecture, scale, and experience in transactional use cases,” Le Clair wrote in the report.

He and his team, which included colleagues Leslie Owens, Cheryl McKinnon, Elizabeth Cullen and Diane Lynch offer some interesting insights.

EMC Goes Safe and Broad

Forrester points to EMC’s ability to leverage its various ECM products such as EMC Document Sciences xPression Enterprise Edition, Syncplicity (Note: this report was likely authored before EMC spun Syncplicity off, but, even so, it will more than likely remain part of the offering); IRM, InfoArchive, and, of course, Documentum.

IBM Brings a Modern Experience to Content Workers

The Content Management market is rather mature (it’s been around since the 1990’s) and Forrester says that IBM has done one thing especially well, namely created pathways for its customers to leverage existing investments while migrating to newer solutions like IBM Content Manager On Demand (CMOD). IBM’s Content Navigator serves as the “glue in between” it all and it may provide a more modern experience for those who work with Transactional Content.

Lexmark: Shopping its Way Up

You might not be able to buy happiness, but you can buy your way into an impressive ECM Transactional Content Services offering. Forrester says that Lexmark’s more recent acquisitions of Kofax, ReadSoft and Saperion nicely complement its existing products (many of which came to it via its Perceptive acquisition). The result? An ability to compete with the tried and true ECM players in this space.

Patience Pays Off for Hyland

For some use cases OnBase seems to be a no brainer, Le Clair used terms like “lots of happy customers” and “high value” when he talked to us about it. And while many vendor solutions in this marketplace are a mashup of acquired products, Hyland Software has grown OnBase organically, over time.

OpenText has Big Friends in Enterprise Software

Look for Content in ERP and CRM systems from SAP or in Oracle’s E-Business Suite and chances are that OpenText will be there. But that’s not all that impressed Forrester’s analysts about this ECM giant. There’s also its vision, you’ll have to read the report to find out what it is, and the possibilities that its Cordys acquisition might offer.

New Players at the Door

Even though the Leaders that Forrester named are brand names in the ECM space, the Transactional Content Services space is growing and companies who haven’t yet acquired ECM software have their eyes wide open. Ditto for millennials who are entering the workplace and are going to find workarounds for anything that fails to provide a modern, consumer-like experiences. (Hint: If your software looks like it was built in the 1990’s, it’s time for a change.)

These factors could already be opening enterprise doors for the likes of M-Files, HP, Unisys and NewGen Software. But that’s not all. EFSS providers (aka “content collaboration vendors”) like Box are building solutions to address the same problem. And, finally, there’s iManage to think about, it may have been providing solutions in this space for 20 years and simply been lost in its owners’ layers.

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