It’s not “business as usual” in the ECM marketplace, Gartner analysts Hanns Koehler-Kruener, Kenneth Chin and Karen A. Hobert concluded in a new Magic Quadrant report on enterprise content management.

The market is consolidating, they wrote, but that’s just part of the story.

In addition, new and specialized vendors are emerging to fill in the gaps that the shift toward digital business is creating.

Market leaders aren't in jeopardy yet. But two trends — a lack of innovation and growing resistance to vendor lock-in — could ultimately loosen their grip on the enterprise.

The Broader Picture

Even though IT departments are growing weary of vendor lock-in, the Gartner analysts cautioned that there are real advantages in getting all ECM components from a single vendor.

Synergies between disparate parts can give an enterprise “more for its money.” And when there is “less complexity across the portfolio at the architectural level,” management and provisioning are easier.

The downside: companies may be limiting themselves to a single vendor’s “view of the market” and growing market consolidation could stifle innovation.

Gartner also noted vendors from outside the MQ for ECM could create micro-market disruptors. They include EFSS providers who are adding basic content and document management functionality to their platforms, as well as business process management (BPM)/workflow vendors with their own content repositories.

While change is brewing, the leaders in the ECM MQ haven’t changed much since last year (though Perceptive is now known by the name of its acquirer, Lexmark. Note too, that each of the Leaders in this MQ has plenty of room left for improvement according to Gartner’s criteria for “Completeness of Vision” and in its “Ability to Execute.”

The Leaders

Without further ado, here are Gartner's ECM leaders.

EMC (aka Documentum): Gartner analysts make it clear they have not considered the impact of the Dell-EMC deal in their assessment of this Hopkinton, Mass.-based company. For now, it’s business as usual. EMC’s ECM portfolio centers around Documentum; more specifically Documentum xCP, Captiva, Document Sciences and ApplicationXtender, EMC Managed Services OnDemand, as well as “numerous solutions that support most vertical industries and business processes including life sciences, healthcare, public sector, financial services, and energy”.

Gartner credits EMC for a variety of delivery models, including cloud and mobile. It notes public cloud industry solutions are available for select products now. (And there are more on the way before the end of the year, say our sources). Kudos are also given to Documentum’s “persona-based UI” (aka Documentum’s D2 client) and EMC’s global partner ecosystem.

ECM shoppers should note, however, that EMC has sold-off Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) provider, Syncplicity, whose functionality some might see as a “must have.” Syncplicity is an EMC Partner; however, and both it and sister-company’s VMware's AirWatch might be used to get the job done as well.

Other concerns centered on support and Documentum’s “fit” for smaller Enterprises. EMC’s Project Horizon, once it comes to market, might fill that gap.

Hyland, based in Westlake, Ohio, sells OnBase, its ECM software suite, to companies “looking to enable people and line-of-business applications to use content associated with processing transactions and manage case-centric work.”

Gartner likes the flexible purchasing option of the OnBase cloud, its ease of integration with third party applications, its mobile capabilities and more.

The analysts suggested, however, that enterprises that require an established global presence, certified software and capabilities in areas like compliance management, social collaboration and WCM might want to look at other options.

That being said, this was a very strong review.

IBM, based in Armonk, N.Y., may be the fully-loaded ECM Cadillac— not only does it offer traditional ECM functionalities but transactional content management, social content management and integration across its product lines such as BPM, WCM, collaboration and so on.

Gartner likes IBM’s Content Navigator which it describes as “a universal access layer that can be added to both on-premises and cloud-hosted content, including non-IBM content repositories to allow for a universal view across information” as well as its “large global presence and installed base through direct and reseller partnerships and is able to serve clients almost anywhere.”

But some of the same things that make IBM such a good choice for some, may make it more complicated for many others. The analysts noted “IBM's extensive product line includes some overlapping capabilities, which create confusion for prospective customers evaluating its ECM products.”

Learning Opportunities

Product acquisition, implementation and vendor/customer interaction seem to leave room for improvement as well. Gartner offers some good advice for dealing with these issues in the MQ report.

Lexmark, based in Lexington, Ky. Has a broad ECM portfolio, which is no surprise given the acquisitions it has made over past few years. There’s Perceptive, Kofax (2015), and ReadSoft (2014) among others.

The analysts noted that customers rate their interactions with the vendor highly. They also shine the light on a number of interesting and newer content management capabilities such as video.

As might be expected from any vendor that has recently made acquisitions, fragmentation could be an issue. Other cautionary flags were raised around lack of Content Management Interoperability (CMIS) and cloud.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., offers SharePoint, which doesn’t need much of an introduction here at CMSWire. “Its pervasive presence in enterprises of all sizes has created a huge ecosystem including both skilled experts on SharePoint implementation and customization, and vendors that add functionality to the basic core platform,” wrote the analysts. They also note that Microsoft was the first vendor to put ECM in the cloud through Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivery.

That being said, neither SharePoint nor Office 365, offer all of the functionalities that ECM’s like EMC or IBM do. SharePoint on-premises offers capabilities that SharePoint Online does not. And then there’s the UI, we don’t need to tell you…

OpenText, based in Waterloo, Ontario, is the second largest ECM vendor in terms of marketshare. It offers a robust set of functionalities that the analysts describe as “a combination of ECM with BPM and customer experience management to create an enterprise information management strategy that reaches across the full scope of content management needs.”

Gartner likes OpenText’s “robust portfolio”, its technical partnerships with SAP, Microsoft and Oracle, as well as its “heavy focus” on “traditional ECM capabilities,” which almost make compliance a given.

On the downside, customer support, according to Gartner’s own survey, may be somewhat erratic ranging from exceptional to lagging. The vendor’s commitment to supporting the products it has acquired may be holding it back as well.

Oracle, based in Redwood City, Calif., has an ECM portfolio that starts with WebCenter Content. It can grow from there to include WebCenter Portal, Sites, Enterprise Capture and other modules. It can also integrate with Oracle’s ERP and CRM solutions. Though we seldom hear about it, Oracle also offers an EFSS solution known as Oracle Documents Cloud Service offering.

When it comes to market presence, Oracle is an easy leader, it doesn’t need to do much more than draw on its customer base. Its rich portfolio of ECM offerings and large partnerships make it attractive as well.

But that doesn’t mean that it’s without shortcomings. Gartner said its cloud and mobile capabilities were late to the game, it’s the kind of thing that could happen again. Not only that, but Oracle is also light on specialized industry solutions, so look before you commit, said the analyst, though not in these words.

All in all, Enterprises in need of ECM solutions have plenty to choose from. These are but seven of the 20 that made it into the MQ.

Title image by Daria Sukhorukova