State of the ECM Market

Feels like an age since I posted a blog post, well it has been an age, and there is nothing like a good prompt than reading Analyst reports on the ECM market. In the past 2 months we have seen a number published with each of the vendors all trying to claim that the result is they are the leaders. These are my musings based on reading 3 of the reports, the ones from Gartner, Forrester and the IDC report. What is interesting about these is IDC was a report on the revenue share and growth of the different vendors in 2012 whereas the Gartner and Forrester reports were focussed on the market position and potential (well thought leadership or vision) of the vendors.

Gartner

Gartner had IBM as the leading vendor with Microsoft not far behind. EMC and OpenText were not far behind and then came Perceptive and Hyland. It was interesting to note that Oracle were slipping, Alfresco were positioned as having a strong vision and Box were not included at all.

If you read a Gartner MQ you do need to read the comments that go with the charts though and here is a summary of the different vendors:

IBM – moved to a single UI and simplified deployment has strengthened the product. The strategy includes Defensible Disposal and Analytics which is broader than most. There is a lack of a cloud strategy and some confusion persists on some of the different products.

EMC – have focussed on reducing the costs in the product, both deployment as well as product, and are increasingly looking at how they supply customer value with a solutions approach.

Microsoft – continue to push SharePoint strong and it continues to be deployed by customers but more and more are now starting to struggle with the value they get from the deployment. Plus there is a lack of embedded tools to help with the deployment but plenty of 3rd party products.

OpenText – very broad range of products and strong alignment with SAP help position them but there is confusion over their strategy on some of their acquisitions, e.g. BPM.

Oracle – strong integration and portal offering to complement the product but they are hindered by a lack of vision and an outdated UI.

Forrester

This report was interesting as it raised a number of points about the market as a whole which I strongly agree with and which will shape the next few years:

  • Companies are moving away from a single platform to do all their Content Management, something which I touched upon over 3 years ago;
  • Companies are struggling with the ability to really quantify the benefits of ECM;
  • Systems of engagement are becoming increasingly disruptive, as are the new kids on the block who provide simple capabilities but which consumers are turning to (e.g. Box and DropBox);
  • Mobile is becoming increasingly important;
  • The UI and how users interact with content is becoming increasingly important;
  • More and more vendors are placing their bets on vertical solutions;
  • Cloud is on the rise.

In terms of the vendors they had IBM, EMC and OpenText as the leaders. Interestingly they had Oracle as having a strong vision but then Oracle did not participate in the report. The lack of imaging and content focussed apps meant SharePoint was slightly lagging.

IDC

The report highlighted 5.7% growth in 2012 with the main areas of deployment being compliance, putting content to work, case management and an increased focus on business solutions. Note WCM was a strong area of growth, I think the presence of WCM in this market is becoming increasingly dubious but thats another post on the way!

The IDC report big winners were IBM with both a large market share but also an increasing share. The two who looked to be on their heels a little were OpenText and EMC who both showed up as having a reduced share. With WCM being a growth area I can understand the EMC statement but with OpenText this seemed to stick out a little. There was big growth for Adobe, no doubt spurred on by their Digital Marketing platform and other notable increases for Box and Acquia.

What does it mean?

So I’m not going to just summarise and paraphrase the reports but here are my opinions on what all this means for the market, potentially an early candidate for trends in 2014:

  1. There are new kids on the block and they are going to disrupt the market. The rise of consumerisation aligned with maturing offers from the likes of Box will continue to see them grow. Some vendors have recognised this already and made moves to react;
  2. Business Value is the absolute key phrase, gone are the days of large ECM implementations for the sake of managing documents better. Customers expect things to be done quicker and better, and usually for it to be better aligned with a business imperative;
  3. No pun intended but content is no longer in a box called the Enterprise, either that or the Enterprise as we knew it no longer exists. The content, or information, has a value chain which cross multiple boundaries. There are risks to that but for now the risks are being put to one side in an attempt to improve visibility and productivity;
  4. This one needs a bigger post but I do think the old traditional definition of WCM as part of ECM is fading away. WCM, or CXM or WEM, is now very firmly rooted in Digital Channels. Its no longer a case of someone writing a piece of content which is approved and then published to be consumed, its a much more fast paced world which needs to react to real time analytics and also be available to multiple channels.
  5. Final word for Oracle. I’m picking them out as they are the ones who do not have the strongest message according to the reports and if you look at one of their most recent campaigns, to displace Documentum, it was very negative in style. I do think there is an opportunity for Oracle. Their Applications business is strong, they have a strategy on Cloud and they have solutions for Big Data. They also have a leading product for WEM in the old Fatwire product. There could be a compelling story in there, they have the components, not all in the best condition, they just need a real shake and a vision for how these components together can be of value.

Changing Landscape for Online Commerce

Those of you who are more aware may have noticed the shameless plug on this blog for Angel Gift Company. Its now about time I wrote a little more about this. But now it is not a shameless plug but my observations on how running an online business has changed in the past 5/6 years.

The business started as my wife’s idea about 7 years ago. To begin with it was a simple concept, the genesis of which was born at the same time as the first of our children, and at the same time friends of ours had children. At the time my wife found she struggled to buy gifts for friends, and set about selling baby gift boxes online. Once she had the various products sourced the next challenge was to get a website. This is where I came in and in my spare time I taught myself ASP .Net and built a site which gave her some ability to add products, customise content and for customers to purchase products. I used Netcetera for the hosting and Protx, now SagePay, for financial transactions. All hunkydory, I taught myself some technical stuff and Mrs Smith had an online store.

Its fair to say business was slow to middling for a few years, nothing near a monthly wage but enough for a bit of pocket money. As time progressed online channels changed, we’ve seen Facebook and Twitter emerge since then. Also I became much busier at work and at home, going from 0 kids to 3 in 9 years has seen that spare time disappear!

With a creaking website and no-one to make changes Mrs Smith looked at options to change the business. Firstly she found an online product which she could easily configure to deploy a new site, and its much better than the one we had originally! Secondly she diversified to sell more than just baby gifts, selling gifts for Weddings and Engagements and more recently selling Frame Prints. Finally, and this is the most interesting bit for me, she started to use some of the new channels to promote and sell her products. She set up a Facebook page and got people to like it, and also used it to sell products, using Paypal to take payments. She exploited eBay much more as well as a channel to sell products. The result has been a big increase in sales as she has found a much wider community to more readily engage. Feedback has, on the whole, been much more positive. The website itself produces a similar number sales but the online presence is still important. Mrs Smith now spends a lot more time on Facebook, but not to post what she had for Breakfast, she’s using it as a commercial tool and is now making money from it.

Now everyone, and their dog, and their cat and their goldfish, is talking about Digital in one way or another. Is this Digital? Probably. Its using new technologies which were not available. On a recent journey to see friends she spent an hour on her phone raising invoices and answering queries, not something which would have happened 5 years ago. Either way its interesting how Social tools can evolve to help people make money on a smaller scale as well as a large corporate scale. Lets hope it carries on and maybe I can become a professional Facebook user, is Facebook Channel Manager a title anyone has ever heard of?

Smart Process Apps

So I missed the document last year from Forrester titled “Smart Process Applications Fill A Big Business Gap” but I have just read the Forrester Wave for Smart Process Apps. My overriding impression is one of the creation of another solution paradigm to confuse an already crowded marketplace. It is not that long ago that I blogged about the difference between ACM and DCM, just over two years to be precise, and the interesting thing is that the technology world in this space has evolved a little during that time but there certainly has not been change enough to warrant the creation of yet another term. I will go back to the document from August 2012 which passed me by but some of the content is reproduced in the Wave and I want to focus on the Key Attributes of a Smart Process App:

1. Imported or embedded awareness of data relevant to the business activity. So what we are saying here is that there must be data associated with the business activity which is captured at some stage of the business process, right? Anything new here?

2. Document capture, document output, and document management. So these are the basic capture, manage and output stages of Document Management.

3. Embedded analytical tools designed for the business activity. So this will provide the reporting and data analytics on the specific business activity which has been created.

4. A collaboration platform for people to create content needed for the activity. An interesting pattern here as it deviates a little from the first three which are slightly more prescriptive. This is much less predictable and much more aligned with the Adaptive Case Management pattern which I have previously described. A good example of a solution incorporating a collaboration platform could be Grants Management where the Grant application would be subjected to a number of reviews where the reviewers provide a number of comments and share opinions on the Grant application.

5. BPM tools for executing the steps involved in the activity. This would involve classic BPM including workflow, tasking and potentially a rules engine.

I look back at the posts on ACM and DCM, which were already addressing a confused market and review the features above and there is very little difference. In fact some of the products which address the DCM or ACM market will be the same for the Smart Process Apps, typically the likes of EMC, OpenText, Kofax and IBM.

One of the comments in a previous post was:

My advice, don’t implement based on the label. Understand what you’re trying to achieve and assess the solutions and options which are available to you. Its not rocket science!

I don’t see any difference here. You need to understand the core business and technical capabilities which you need to address and evaluate the products which can help you achieve those. It is true that it is not rocket science but the sheer number of players in this space means it is getting harder as there is convergence. Two years ago we would not have been comparing Salesforce.com and EMC as players in this space but the products are moving closer. The one thing I would recommend, and it is something I will comment on more, is the growth of already built applications or accelerators within the products. Companies such as IBM and EMC are adding an increasing number of solutions to their portfolio, addressing problem domains in multiple industries such as Life Sciences and Energy and Utilities. These solutions provide much more predictable results for customers and the solution providers themselves.

So while there is a lot in the report which is confusing and repeated from previous reports there is an underlying message which is important and which is driving change in this area of technology. Solutions and Solution Accelerators are increasing, call them Case Management or Smart Process Apps, and there is an increasing amount of choice in the market. Ultimately this can only be a good thing for consumers and we should see an increase in successful projects based on these technologies as a result.

Doing it the right way

This post has been prompted by a couple of discussions with some colleagues recently, and its all about doing things the right way with SharePoint. As most people know SharePoint can be many things, it can be a Collaboration tool, a WCM platform, an Application platform, a Document Management system or many, many others. This can cause a bit of confusion around the skills required to implement SharePoint successfully.

Recently I’ve seen implementations where it has been clear that the primary skill of the team implementing has been Development or Engineering. Why do I say it was clear? Because of the focus of the implementation. There was little consideration for the Information Architecture and not enough thought paid to the primary asset in the solution, the content.

Ultimately SharePoint is a Content and Information platform, designed as a repository and an interface for people to create, manage and share their content and information. There are ways to optimise the way people perform these tasks through some development but the Information and Content is the primary asset in the implementation. A Microsoft developer will be able to help in the implementation but it is an Information or Content professional who will be best placed to shape and lead the implementation. 

I would go further and suggest that increasingly we are seeing organisations who have SharePoint and AN Other Content Management System. The approach to the Information Architecture is even more important in situations like this as organisations strive to find the right tool for the right job.

Have I got any evidence to support the above? Well one anecdote is that I have seen two Document Management solutions deployed in Local Government in the UK recently. Both were led by an Information focussed agenda and in fact the people leading the implementations were interchangeable as it was the knowledge of the business and the information required to support that business which made the implementations successful. One was SharePoint and one was Alfresco.

Digital Schmigital

Reading the paper on the plane last week and there was a little nugget in amongst a rather cutting article about the relationship between Civil Servants and Politicians in the UK. In it there was criticism from a former politician of the “paper-based” nature of government in the Digital Age. He quoted two examples:

- printed documents which are given to ministers purposefully have a space of 1cm for them to  record comments;

- he had asked for documents to be given electronically to him so he could just carry them round on his iPad but was told no due to security reasons;

To those of us who work in the Content Management space our minds will be whirring with the thoughts of opportunity here. Clearly there can be huge benefits from putting in place tools and processes which make the sharing of information easier. Regarding the point on Security it really frustrates me when people use this to block progress instead of thinking more logically about the needs and potential solution. Paper is not, by default, any more secure than digital content, it’s just a different set of issues which need to be addressed.

There is lots of talk of Digital in the IT world right now and sometimes it feels as though its just another buzzword but for changes to be made to the degree above organisations do need to undergo a true Transformation and to embrace the possibilities which are available to them instead of the safe approach which people cling to.

EMC World 2012

Rather than report back on specific sessions I’m posting an overview of the event, for a number of reasons:

- there are plenty of excellent posts on the sessions already available from the likes of Pie and Alexandra to name but two;

- I didn’t get to go to as many sessions as I would have liked;

- I’ve just got back and have got a few things on in the next 2-3 weeks.

The key messages I picked up from the event were:

- No change in Strategy. This is positive. EMC set a strategy 12 months ago and are now executing on it. The next 12 months will be critical to this execution as they release xCP2.0 and D7 and the D2 client matures further.

- xCP2.0. The more I see and hear of this the more impressed I am. The things I noted were:

  • Improved deployment through xMS;
  • 2.0 is on target for this year, 2.1 will be next year and then 2.2 in 2014;
  • Uses tcServer as the App Server and for 2.1 the OS will be MS only with both Oracle and SQL Server supported as the Database;
  • xCP 2.0 is now feature complete, they are bug fixing and testing;
  • Performance is much better in D7 and xCP2.0, should require much less compute in order to run these products;
  • It looks quick and easy to make changes to applications but I still need to understand how this will work in a true production environment;
  • More to know about some of the details around deploying solutions such as impact on in-flight processes and also amendments to the data model – I suspect the latter will be something which comes when NGIS comes along;

- D2. Unfortunately I did not get anywhere near enough time to look at this produce but what I did see was impressive. I was very interested to hear the story from some colleagues in the US who were very pleased with the product and have implemented a full engineering solution in a matter of weeks including features such as Transmittals and Bulk Uploads.

- Syncplicity. This was the only big new thing of the event and it was clear that it is a deal which has been pushed through at the last minute. Its an intriguing deal and one which I am sure people will be sitting down and working out how to move it forward pretty quickly. Some of the features of Syncplicity looked neat and I believe it will be a welcome addition to the portfolio once they have a fully integrated vision of how it fits with the other products.

- Mobile. This cuts across all three of the above but this is an area where EMC are pushing hard. I’m particularly intrigued as to how xCP will perform on a mobile device, in 2.0 it will be available via Safari on iPads.

It was an interesting experience for me as it my first EMC World, having only attended Momentum’s in Europe before. It is a strange feeling being the small group in such a large conference and I’m sorry but the chance to look at racks of servers is not something which rocks my boat. Nevertheless the IIG people really go out of their way to create a sense of community within the Momentum conference and once I found the calm of the Momentum lounge then things looked up.

Overall then these are exciting times for EMC. 12 months ago everything was paper talk, now we’re seeing things happen. This time next year we will know if the transformation has been successful.I predict the efforts of EMC will lead to a period of growth. What will be interesting is to consider who EMC’s competitors are. Alongside OpenText and Oracle on the ECM play I predict they will start to see themselves come up against SAP and more focussed solutions more.

Information Management Trends

I was asked this question in a meeting the other day and to be honest it caught me on the back foot a little, I’ve probably been too close to detail over the past few months to really take a step back and think. The question was ‘What do you see are the current trends or hot topics in the Information Management world?’. Whilst I gave an answer which I believe was acceptable I decided it was time to take a few moments to reflect on what I am seeing in the market. I’m sure there are other things going on out there but I thought I would share some of my views:

SharePoint 2010 – there is no doubt that this continues to be the product with the biggest influence over the market. More and more customers are starting to explore the features which SP2010 delivers and it is starting to find its home within the overall market. It won’t, in fact can’t, do everything that everyone wants but there is a strong discussion to be had on why not SharePoint!

SharePoint 2010 – this time I am considering the impact the product has had on the other vendors in this space. Whilst I think it is too far to suggest that the likes of OpenText, EMC, Oracle and IBM have given up on their core Document Management solutions they have realised that this is a difficult fight for them if they go toe-to-toe on the basic content services when compared to SharePoint. As a result they are all trying their utmost to find their space in the market. IBM and EMC appear to be placing their bets on the Case Management style solutions and OpenText appear to be focussing on the Social Media and Web 2.0 space.

Convergence of Data and Content – this is happening in so many different ways. Top of the tree is Big Data as more and more people are seeing that Big Data is not just about Big Databases but about the amount of information, structured and unstructured, which is generated. Furthermore we’re seeing an increase in the world of Content Analytics and the desire to look into the unstructured world to get more intelligence from this information. This also leads to a desire to act on this information – moving us to the area of BPM which is embedded into the IM world.

Cloud – well everyone talks about it! Its still early days but we’re starting to see more and more moves towards consuming IT as a service and Content is an obvious choice to play in this space. The big vendors are still getting their heads around this area but as this progresses and the customers start to demand this more and more then we will see a change. Whilst the change will be interesting in itself I also think there will be a future challenge in how customers govern this information.

The New User – As per a recent post from Pie I don’t think this is Mobile but I also don’t think it is BYOD as we’re not seeing that happen widely enough…just yet! But there is an increased expectation from users on the IT service they receive, the way they interact with IT and the devices on which they can do this.

Demise of Portals – Strong and I don’t mean all Portals but the traditional JSR Portals are on the way out. They’re either being replace by SharePoint, see above, or more flexible architecture models. I’ve delivered a couple of programmes using the JSR Portals and they can work but its just too hard.

BPM/ACM/DCM – I don’t care what you call it but its out there. I’m of the opinion that the process is not so important but the information is the key. The need to use information to make decisions, the creation of information during the life of a ‘Case’ and the dissemination or retention of information once the process or case has been completed (I’m sure Max would say this is when the Goal(s) has been reached). The way people access, create or process this information will change but the information itself will typically remain the constant. Their is a bit of tension between the pure BPM camps and the ECM camps but we’re also seeing convergence, e.g. Kofax purchasing Singularity.

Changes in WCM – This has been coming for a while and I think the change has happened. Not so long ago the traditional ECM vendors tried to do WCM as well, the best example being EMC. Their product was suitable for only a small number of WCM Use Cases. We’re now seeing the specialist products take a firm hold in the market such as SDL, CQ5 and Fatwire. Interestingly two of those have been acquired in the past 2 years. Adobe have made a big bet on CQ5, it will be interesting to see what Oracle do with Fatwire, I would recommend keeping it separate from their UCM products.

I’m sure there are more, these are just my personal views but it just shows what happens when you take that step back to look at what is going on. There’s lots going on and the pace of change is quick.