Information Management, The Gartner 2013 ECM Magic Quadrant: Winners and Losers
Although a major analyst firm has yet to introduce a reality television-style survival component involving vendor executives, there are winners and losers in every vendor evaluation. This year’s Gartner ECM Magic Quadrant is no different -- seeing some players rise, some fall, while all fight to survive.

As we reported earlier, Gartner evaluated 23 vendors in the most recent version of their annual Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management. Comparing this year’s report with last year’s version, a few things stand out.

Oracle Slips

Apparently the odds were not in Oracle’s favor this year, as they were the only vendor to fall out of the leader’s quadrant in the evaluation. A quick scan through the archives reveals that no other vendor has been similarly banished from the ECM leader’s quadrant, at least not in written or verbal memory. While we’re not certain about the reason for this change, it may be that Oracle declined to take an active role in the report.

In Forrester’s recently-published ECM Wave,which includes many of the same vendors, Forrester acknowledged that Oracle chose not to participate in their evaluation. Whatever the reason for the decline, it’s also clear that Gartner has reservations about Oracle’s long-term commitment to this market.

Gartner clients using Oracle WebCenter Content complain about the software having an older look and feel, outdated UI, a lack of fresh enhancements and insufficient sharing of product road map.”

Despite the setback, no one with a modicum of experience in this contest will dismiss the Redwood Shores giant’s ability to regain momentum if it chooses to do so.Their CEO reportedly owns a full set of authentic samurai armor, so there is that too.

Perceptive Rises

Perceptive Software emerged from the fray as the only vendor to move into the leader’s quadrant. Gartner cites strong revenue growth, expanded capabilities and significant international expansion. It doesn't hurt, of course, that since Perceptive was itself acquired by Lexmark in 2010, the latter has added nine additional software companies to the Perceptive family.In particular, Gartner calls out a handful of key features added through acquisition:

[Perceptive] has augmented its core imaging document repository and workflow capabilities with advanced recognition capabilities, search technology, BPM and process analytics, and a cloud-based video content management platform.”

Balancing the positive momentum, Gartner reminds readers that multiple acquisitions can lead to a confusing roadmap and challenged Perceptive to clearly articulate its strategy for the acquired companies and products.

Learning Opportunities

HP (Autonomy) Reappears

Absent from this evaluation since 2010 when Autonomy last appeared autonomously, HP appears in the "Niche Players" quadrant as the only vendor added since last year.Pointing to HP’s global footprint and strong brand recognition, Gartner seems optimistic about the vendor’s comeback in this market:

The HP Autonomy team within HP Software has been reinvigorated. HP has shown a renewed commitment to marketing and selling ECM, and a deeper focus on customer service and satisfaction.”

But Gartner cautions that HP must continue to invest in order to maintain their fresh energy in the ECM market. Gartner points to aging and loosely-integrated product components as examples of work that remains to be done.

The Field Survives

As for the other vendors locked in the fight for ECM supremacy, the long struggle goes on. No one was voted off Gartner’s magical island -- no vendors disappeared from the report this year. Other than those mentioned above, the players stayed in their sectors, forced to be satisfied with incremental advances.

It may be years before we see so much as an obstacle course added to these vendor evaluations. Until then, we must wait patiently until scalability regains its proper association with ropes and grappling hooks. We must bide our time until horizontal platform play involves spinning paddles and a fear of heights.And as for cloud-based deployments having anything to do with parachutes, well, let’s not get carried away.

Title image courtesy of davidd (Flickr) via a Creative Commons Attribution License