We always look to the analysts to help us narrow down our selection of vendors for things like enterprise content management. We recently had a look at Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management. Now we look to Forrester (news, site), who has released their Q4 Wave for Enterprise Content Management Suites.

The Need for ECM is Even Greater

According to Forrester's research, the demand for enterprise content management is stronger than ever. Not surprising considering the amount of information we take in every day is growing at a substantial rate. What things are organizations asking of their ECM solutions?

  • Cheaper implementations, quicker set up using industry and application specific building blocks for specific apps that sit on top of ECM.
  • Integration with SharePoint, leveraging SharePoint as the front-end interface.
  • More Collaboration functionality like team workspaces and wikis.
  • More transparency in the contribution process enabling information workers who want to work with familiar tools.

And of course, organizations are realizing that technology isn't the answer in itself. Processes need to be in place and early engagement with both internal process experts and end users needs to happen, among other important activities.

The Evaluation

Selecting an Enterprise CMS is no small exercise and there are a number in the market to choose from including solutions for the SMB market, traditional ECM suites and many focused on particular area of ECM.

The Forrester Wave took a closer look at eight ECM Suite vendors, evaluating them against over 70 criteria elements. What's important to remember in this analysis is that the results are suited for larger enterprises. You can go into the detailed spreadsheet used and customize the results based on your particular needs. The results you get may very well be different.

The eight vendors evaluated include IBM, EMC, Microsoft, Open Text, Hyland, HP, Alfresco and Oracle. Vendors were selected because they offered the breadth of ECM Functionality found in suites and because they are leading providers of information management technologies (with an established roadmap). In addition, these vendors are the most frequently mentioned or inquired on.

From Leaders to Strong Performers

The Gartner Magic Quadrant covers a lot more ECM vendors, mainly because they aren't focused on suites specifically. But what may be comforting to you as you go through your decision making process is that both Forrester and Gartner see the same vendors leading the market.

The Leaders

Open Text, EMC, IBM and Oracle lead the Enterprise Cms market. This is not surprising considering the breadth of enterprise content management capabilities each vendor offers such as document management, records management, web content management, business process management, document imaging and output and more.

Of course they don't all offer the exact same solution. Open Text, thanks to its Vignette acquisition is the strongest in terms of web content management, whereas EMC is the weakest. Oracle has strong integration support for external repositories and applications, but relies on partners for eDiscovery and Archiving.

IBM's FileNet P8 seems to do the best with the end to end ECM offering and the broadest information management portfolio in the industry.

Strong Performers

Microsoft makes the list as a strong performer for what else? SharePoint 2007. The argument as to whether SharePoint really is an ECM rages on today, but you can't overlook it considering how deep into the enterprises it has spread. It doesn't have the full suite of capabilities lacking eDiscovery, BPM, records management and other things. Of course SharePoint 2010 is hard at work to change this.

Other strong performers include both Hyland and HP. Although Hyland has been adding to its core ECM capabilities, its target audience is the document imaging and content archiving. HP is strongest in document management, imaging and capture, and records management, but lacks WCM among other core capabilities for an ECM suite.

The Lone Contender

Although we are sure Alfresco is happy to have made the Forrester Wave for ECM, the only open source enterprise content management vendor still stands behind the rest. One of its strengths is its unified repository and it has recently ramped up Records Management DoD certification.

Get the Details, Make Your Own Decision

Your needs may be those of a larger enterprise, or they may be those of a smaller SMB, or maybe just a particular segment of ECM. Reports like Forrester and Gartner do provide good information on the vendor options. It doesn't hurt to delve into the detailed spreadsheets for each vendor in Forrester's research to understand which ones are better suited for you.

But like everything, you need to know your requirements first, understand your strategy and build your roadmap. Then look at vendors and get down into the technical and supporting consulting details.

Pick up your copy of the Forrester report now.