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At the LiveLinkUp 2007 user conference in Orlando last month, Open Text discussed the state of the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) market today, how it’s changed over the last year, and what the future holds. Consensus is that more customers are looking at the bigger picture of ECM.As is well known by the readers of this site, Open Text concludes that ECM has become a key element of the information strategies of global organizations.

Compliance is the Key

What’s the big driver for ECM? It’s all about compliance. Not just compliance for compliance's sake, but about improving business process. Customers, Open Text says, want to develop a more planned approach to managing content and delivering it in such a way that it improves business processes and productivity.Furthermore, Open Text wants to help their customers achieve these goals by providing them with a comprehensive ECM strategy. With the end in mind, enter the new tools and technologies (like Content Services) that have been developed to advance these goals .

Open Text Content Services

Open Text Content Services is set of foundational tools that form the basis for the next generation of content management.The set of three tools (Enterprise Connect, Process Services, and Library Services) take a repository agnostic approach to ECM eliminating silos of content and processes by creating shared services that can be leveraged by other systems like SAP, SharePoint, and other Open Text products.

The SharePoint Connection

Not only are new tools and technologies being provided, Open Text is also getting cozy with Microsoft with whom there already exists a strategic relationship (Open Text is a Gold Certified Partner and in 2006 the company was named Microsoft Global ISV Partner of the Year). Open Text then strengthened the relationship by opening a new office in Redmond inside the Microsoft Partner Solution Center.The goal is to continue to work on content management applications and services that extend Microsoft technology – like SharePoint. The question then begs, who tells who what to build and how to build it? And will there be classroom bullying that says “write me this Feature Solution or I won’t let you play in my Performance Lab”?We will give you two guesses as to how most of these conversations go.After all, it's not like Microsoft opened an office at Open Text's headquarters.According to Jens Rabe, VP, Microsoft Line of Business at Open Text, the relationship is founded on the idea that customers want “complementary ECM solutions that blend the strengths of Microsoft and Open Text”.But doesn’t SharePoint compete with OpenText? SharePoint is considered an ECM solution and is in the leader quadrant of Gartner’s ECM Magic Quadrant.Maybe the key really is to keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

Technology is the enabler

At the end of the day, no tools, SDKs, frameworks, or strategic relationships will help Open Text help customers if those clients don’t take the time to truly understand their content and business processes.Lay the foundation for the business and then figure out what the supporting ECM technology roadmap needs to be.Maybe it’s a SharePoint Open Text combination, maybe it’s not.These new Content Services and enhanced business partner relationships may propel Open Text to higher ECM market share, but as the saying goes: "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink".Open Text will need to help customers understand how their content and business processes can be enhanced to improve their business. The tools are great, but they are only an enabler to a bigger business strategy.For more information, please visit Open Text's website.