very close horse race
Gartner defines content services platforms as the next logical step for enterprise content management in its latest Magic Quadrant PHOTO: Simson Petrol

In last year's Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management (ECM), Gartner analysts and authors Karen A. Hobert, Gavin Tay and Joe Mariano redefined ECM as, "a set of services and microservices, embodied either as an integrated product suite or as separate applications that share common APIs and repositories, to exploit diverse content types, and serve multiple constituencies and numerous use cases across an organization."

This year, Hobert, Tay and Mariano, with additional author Michael Woodbridge, scrapped the ECM term altogether, citing a shift “from self-contained systems and repositories to open services.”

In other words, Content Services Platforms (CSP) are the new ECM, according to Gartner.

The analysts defined a CSP as "a set of services and microservices, embodied either as an integrated product suite or as separate applications that share common APIs and repositories, to exploit diverse content types and to serve multiple constituencies and numerous use cases across an organization."

The analysts noted that CSPs are based on a content services architecture and that they not only have their own repositories, but can also connect to external repositories through integrations, application program interfaces (APIs), and packaged integrations. CSPs are on-premises, in the cloud or hybrid.

Nineteen vendors met the criteria for the new Magic Quadrant for Content Services Platforms (fee charged). They include, in alphabetical order, Alfresco, Box, Comarch, DocuWare, Everteam, Fabasoft, Hyland, IBM, iManage, Laserfische, M-Files, Micro Focus (HPE Software), Microsoft, Newgen Software, Nuxeo, Objective, OpenText, Oracle, SER Group.

Related Story: Are We Really Having the 'ECM is Dead' Conversation Again?

The Content Services Platform Leaders

Microsoft

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft was named a Leader and earned the highest marks in the ability to execute criteria. The analysts looked at Microsoft's SharePoint offerings including SharePoint Online, SharePoint Server, Office 365, OneDrive for Business as well as integrations with Teams and Flow. They noted that Microsoft's reference customers sang praises around the professional services provided by both Microsoft and its partners, as well as the ease of collaboration and range of contextual experiences that Microsoft SharePoint provides.

Microsoft does have shortcomings as a content service platform provider. The analysts noted enterprises that use SharePoint depend on additional products like Flow in Office 365 and other extensions to make it a true CSP.

OpenText

Waterloo, Ontario-based OpenText scored highest for its completeness of vision. The analysts looked at two OpenText CSPs: OpenText Content Server and the Documentum Platform. Both were singled out for their partner networks, market share and professional services capabilities. OpenText is “an obvious CSP candidate for organizations who want a proven and trusted partner” according to the analysts. They also pointed to OpenText's relationship and deep integrations with SAP and other vendors as a strength.

However, the authors called out OpenText for performing license audits which could increase costs, suggesting users to pay close attention to contact terms. They also noted OpenText’s product suite had overlapping offerings calling for product roadmap examination.

Hyland Software

Westlake, Ohio-based Hyland Software won the remaining spot in the Leaders quadrant. It is worth noting that at the time of the evaluation, Hyland's acquisition of Perceptive was not complete, so neither it, nor OnBase17 (OnBase is Hyland's CSP) was considered. Hyland won high marks for overall customer satisfaction, its "anywhere/any device" approach toward accessing content, API integrations and more.

Areas of concern were price, limited global presence and uncertainty on how well Hyland would handle Perceptive's assets following the completion of the sale.

Magic Quadrant for Content Services Platforms
Gartner's 2017 Magic Quadrant for Content Services PlatformsPHOTO: Gartner

Near Misses to Gartner's Leaders Quadrant

M-Files

Dallas-based M-Files was named a Visionary in the MQ. M-Files came close to landing in the Leaders Quadrant, with a completeness of vision score on par with Hyland and rated higher than Microsoft's when it comes to overall strategy, usability and ease of adoption. The analysts had some concerns about M-Files's preparedness for adoption by larger enterprises.

Newgen

Delhi, India-based Newgen Software was named a Niche Player, but just missed being rated a Leader both in terms of its ability to execute and completeness of vision. The analysts liked its integrated and flexible content services approach and its focus on digital transformation. They noted the customers Gartner surveyed were "completely satisfied" with the product. 

Newgen fell short in areas like product awareness and for having interesting, yet unleveraged features like chatbots and conversational UIs.

Oracle

Redwood City, Calif.-based Oracle also missed the Leaders MQ, falling short on completeness of vision. While the customers Gartner surveyed championed Oracle's scalability, interoperability and more, they reported that its user interface looks dated and its integration with non-Oracle line of business data was limited, among other concerns.

Call it content management, call it content services, this is an interesting and opportune time for vendors and enterprises shopping in this area. Neither well-funded, well-recognized providers nor edgy startups can take their positions for granted.