Every now and then an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) vendor will open its mouth and shout from the rooftops that its competitors are “dinosaurs,” though they are unlikely to use exactly that word. Instead they’ll slip in terms like “first generation” or “legacy,” which in IT-speak means retired or ready to be retired.

When you hear that kind of talk, it’s probably worth asking if you’re being spun by someone who’s fighting to gain market share. Entertaining as it can be to watch the taunting, we have to remember to ask ourselves if poking at your competitors is the best way to demonstrate your value.

We say, probably not.

A Perfect View

We at CMSWire have an awesome vantage point from which to view the marketplace. As a news organization, we’re in a position to observe what vendors are doing, what analysts are saying and sometimes, during our daily work, to interact with ECM decision makers.

As 2013 comes to a close, we can assure you that almost every vendor in the industry has one thing in common; namely, no ECM solution provider, regardless of its age or market dominance, is resting on its laurels. Each vendor understands that disruption is here. Every vendor we’ve spoken to is laser-focused on the future (while supporting clients, of course) and racing to bring trusted solutions to market that will produce wins for their customers and, at the same time, keep them safe.

With that in mind, we wanted to know from the vendors themselves about what changes and challenges they saw in 2013. Here’s a selection of what the six leading industry leaders (EMC, Hyland, IBM, Microsoft, OpenText and Oracle) had to say:

EMC Vantage Point

Comments by Rick Devenuti, EMC IIG president, and Gautam Desai, chief marketing officer

  • It’s clear now there is never just one information source. There needs to be movement towards a single, more accurate view of information -- traditional ECM solutions were built and operated independently from other information management (IM) initiatives, which resulted in proliferation of siloed repositories.

Note: Companies who want to leverage data driven marketing are also having this problem. Will solving the IM problem solve that problem too?

  • Leveraging the Cloud and Establishing the Value Office: It’s the core and lifeblood of every business -- the set of work and employees chartered solely with creating value for the organization, creating real solutions to help solve their customers’ toughest business problems. By leveraging cloud technologies, businesses can extend and enrich their existing Value Office capabilities. And that has far-reaching implications, especially when you consider the transformative effect cloud can have on industries like healthcare, life sciences, energy and engineering. The cloud is more than another deployment model. Once the information starts to be aggregated in the cloud, it opens up a host of new capabilities based on big data analytics that simply aren't possible in today's world or siloed and sparsely connected systems.
  • Transformation: Growing sophistication of business user content and access is powering organizations to transform, identifying the right technologies and business solutions to leverage. There’s a need to integrate content within business processes, maintain governance and control.

Hyland Software Vantage Point

Comments by Ken Burns, analyst relations manager at Hyland

Learning Opportunities

  • In 2013, SharePoint was no longer a disruptive force in the market for production-grade ECM solutions. This is due, in large measure, to the meteoric rise of cloud-based collaborative document sharing applications such as Box and Dropbox. Microsoft fell into a trap similar to the one providers of production-class ECM platforms fell into in early 2000s. Conventional ECM vendors tried to force complex ECM platforms upon users who had very simple requirements. Conversely, SharePoint tried to force very basic content management capabilities to solve complex problems. The success of cloud-based file sharing vendors like Box have forced Microsoft to regroup around SharePoint’s earlier value proposition of providing simple ECM tools for the masses. You might say that the main lesson production ECM vendors learned in the past, and Microsoft learned more recently, is that when it comes to ECM there is no one size fits all approach.
  • Previously, the majority of cloud-based content management applications were for Web content management or lightweight collaborative file sharing. 2013 saw more mainstream acceptance of cloud hosting ECM solutions for more complex and high value ECM solutions such as accounts payable invoice processing and university student admissions processing.
  • Similarly, mobile applications were typically designed for use by consumers. In 2013, more and more enterprises understood that mobilizing consumer facing applications wouldn’t yield their full potential if the enterprise didn’t mobilize the applications supporting their core operational and administrative processes. More organizations are seeing the benefits of enabling their employees to participate in document-intensive processes via smartphones -- and even offline -- directly from the point of service in the field.

IBM Vantage Point

Comments by John Murphy, vice president of ECM products and strategy at IBM

  • It’s clear that social and collaborative tools integrated with enterprise content are starting to transform how people interact, work and leverage information.
  • Businesses today are looking for ways to improve workforce productivity, protect corporate assets and properly manage different types of unstructured content such as electronic documents, web pages, email and text in a more consistent way. They also want a better, more modern way for both casual business users and knowledge workers to leverage, create and consume content both inside and outside the organization.
  • This is where social content management -- or social business software -- comes into play. It brings the innovations of the social consumer web to the enterprise. People get the great user experiences they love in their favorite consumer applications while meeting stringent enterprise IT requirements. They can create and consume content in a very rapid fashion knowing they have access to the right kind of expertise.
  • Putting content in motion -- allowing users and developers to access and work with enterprise content right from mobile devices -- was another big change. Customers on the move can now take advantage of key social, content and case management capabilities remotely for timely collaborative document management, production imaging and report management.

Microsoft Vantage Point

Comments by Bill Baer, Microsoft senior product marketing manager for SharePoint

  • This year, we’ve seen unprecedented growth in content storage. Workers are taking advantage of computing and networking improvements, and this data explosion has not only resulted in more content, but larger content at high bandwidth, which has become a commodity. In addition to storage utilization, compliance has become top of mind for IT, in that, people now treat content like digital luggage, carrying it with them on the go.

OpenText Vantage Point

Comments by Mark Barrenechea, CEO of OpenText

  • Unstructured Data: Unstructured data, which includes everything from emails and recorded meetings to PDF documents and social interactions, continues to be an issue for both enterprise and government. The sheer volume of data, combined with compliance and security concerns, is enough to give any organization a headache. When you consider that unstructured data holds the most potential, it’s no wonder the issue was top of mind for many this year. To understand the challenges of unstructured data, we encourage organizations to start by looking at the "three V’s" -- the velocity, or rate at which information is coming, the volume and the variety, or different types of data. Here at OpenText, we work with businesses across the globe to turn unstructured data into structured, and to turn it into useful information that drives business results.
  • Integrating the Viewpoints of the CMO and CIO: Historically, the CMO and CIO have competed with each other in the enterprise. We did see the relationship improve in 2013, but it still remains a challenge for many organizations. There are a lot of ways that both the CMO and CIO can work together to advance business goals. The first step to tackling this challenge is to align the CIO and CMO teams and agree on a set of goals and expectations.The second, and most important, is to partner on new initiatives and present them to the CEO and the board together. By joining forces, you are much more likely to get support from the rest of the C-Suite.

Note: Once again, data driven marketers are addressing this too.

Oracle Vantage Point

Comments by Lance Shaw, director of product marketing for Oracle WebCenter Content

  • The ECM / information management industry continued to evolve and mature in 2013 and has seen a significant change over the course of the year. Synergies between ECM and business application processes have risen in importance, surpassing priorities around information governance and compliance. Organizations are focused on how to get more tangible business value from their information and this requires deeper integration within automated, content-enabled transactional processes. Importantly, being able to leverage the same document or file across multiple back-end systems is seen as a way to obtain even more value.

What’s your vantage point?