Some say that Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems are at their best when they are boring.

I respectfully disagree.

Enterprise CMS: Awe or Just Fade Away

In my mind, they thrive when they awe the imagination and are leveraged to solve problems in ways they couldn't be solved before. And while some may see moving traditional ECM to the cloud and delivering content to mobile devices as big advances, they aren't revolutionary. Neither is transactional content management. The newest of the “new users” will find it difficult to believe that those capabilities weren't always there.

The vendor(s) who will win the future will introduce innovations that will cause prosumers’ jaws to drop. Those who don’t will be pushed to the sidelines where they live until they fade away. That’s my prediction for 2013.

And while that may seem to be too big an expectation, we’re living in a time, and world, of ample opportunity -- the “Internet of Things,” Big Data and Analytics all provide fertile soil. If you don’t grow something from all of that, you’ll have to go.

That’s my two cents.

The Predictions 

That being said, I asked the leaders of Enterprise Content Management software providers to tell us where they expect the industry will go in 2013. Here’s what the best of them said:

Ken Bisconti, Vice President, Enterprise Content Management Products and Strategy, IBM Software Group

  1. “Big data” will evolve from an IT buzzword to practical implementations as organizations seek to glean insight from their information using combinations of advanced analytics technologies.
  2. “Information economics” will enter the corporate lexicon as organizations seek to maximize the value of their information while mitigating its risks and aligning its cost to value over time as data ages.
  3. “Consumerization of IT” trends will continue to influence ECM implementations giving rise to “mobile first” and “cloud first” approaches for new application design.
  4. State-of-the-art ECM applications will combine capture and content capabilities with social business, analytics, personalization, process and business rules technologies to reinvent traditional ways of working and customer experiences.
  5. Customers will accelerate their demand for pre-created horizontal and vertical solutions. ECM will be a key component to many of these solutions but will be integrated with other forms of data and broader software capabilities. ECM practitioners will need to become broadened information professionals to stay relevant in this fast paced market.

Rick Devanuti, President, Information Intelligence Group, EMC Corporation

Prediction: the Delivery of Now

For many years, content management software providers would sell massive platforms for customers and partners to build a solution that satisfied key business requirements. IT had the money and power to make platform decisions under the “build it and they will come” model, and all business solutions, as they were prioritized, were to be implemented on these platforms. It’s just the way it was. But not today.

When I talk with CIO’s, the common theme is “Now,” as in, “I need a solution for (fill in the blank) Now.” Rapid time to value is the leading driver. And if IT doesn’t respond fast enough, the business will look to buy a cloud-based solution, cutting IT out until there is a problem.

At IIG, we believe this movement to cloud solutions is only going to escalate. We can give the business the fast wins it needs while working with IT to ensure a solid direction forward and of course all the compliance and security it needs to be able to provide to the business. We are focused on delivering cloud-based solutions for Financial Services, Health Care, Life Sciences, Energy & Engineering and Public Sector.

In 2013, cloud-based content-centric solutions will hit a tipping point. Our team and our partners are working hard to make “Now” a reality.

Mark Barrenechea, President and CEO, OpenText

Enterprise Information Management will emerge as the next generation category for enterprises, rivaling ERP and replacing the old, siloed and fragmented approaches to applications and information.

Next year, organizations will focus their attention and investments on maximizing the value of their enterprise information -- approximately 80% of which is unstructured -- while minimizing risks. Organizations need software that manages growing volumes of unstructured information such as business documents, social media interactions, email messages, rich media, etc.

EIM represents this broader set of solutions. By linking structured and unstructured information across multiple formats and data sources, EIM provides seamless access to information and processes, allowing organizations to accelerate innovation, make better decisions and drive better business outcomes. EIM will be the organizational imperative for 2013.

Jeetu Patel, General Manager, Syncplicity Business Unit, EMC

Sync and share in 2013 will expand its focus and prove its relevance to the enterprise. Sync and share has thus far been individually focused on providing users access to their data, but will expand beyond the user to the needs of the company and groups, enabling transformational use cases.

In 2013, users will move from interacting primarily with personal files via sync and share to files pertinent to the entire company and as part of business process workflows. New functionality such as encryption, IRM, CMS, policy controls, AD integration and on premise storage options will be required and delivered by the industry to enable this shift.

IT will finally begin to become comfortable with these new capabilities and deploy sync and share across their enterprise, resulting in the first real enterprise deployments of 30,000 seats and above.

Glenn Gibson, Product Marketing Manager, Hyland Software

Cloud deployments of ECM will continue to be top of mind for many CIOs who are realizing they can use the cloud to lighten the IT workload while reaping the benefits of top-tier data security and hardware.

With organizations comfortably using cloud-based products such as for their CRM and Office 365 by Microsoft, the level of comfort is growing and growing. Managing their content in the cloud with their ECM solutions is the next natural choice.

Alan Pelz-Sharpe, Research Director of Content Management & Collaboration, 451 Research

I think we are going to see an even greater divergence of interests between the world of Enterprise Collaboration and Transactional Document Management. The former is where the excitement lies, but the latter is where the real money resides.

At the collaborative end of the market, we will see a revival of interest in the corporate intranet, and the start of its reinvention as a mobile secure communication and workplace application, particularly on premises/hybrid cloud. Whereas at the transactional end of things, we will see the drive toward ever greater automation via Analytics and Artificial Intelligence, dominated by on premises installations. We will see this through a lift in interest in intelligent capture and rules and analytics driven BPM.

Overall I think 2013 is going to see a lot of competition and probably some consolidation in the collaboration sector, but in the transactional market even more grip by the major firms IBM, OpenText and Hyland. I also expect to see a bit of a bounce back to a more competitive form from EMC Documentum, who lost direction a bit over the past few years but seem to be getting back on track again.

What’s your prediction for 2013? We’re all ears!

Editor's Note: To see what the the experts had to say about Big Data's future, read Virginia's Big Data Predictions - The Experts Weigh In