John Newton recently blogged on the future of ECM and gave his predictions on what will happen to the ECM market. I think there is little doubt in his statement that MOSS will be the biggest single disruptive influence on the ECM market in the coming months/years. He also made a statement about the expansion of Alfresco as being another disruptive influence on the market and then went on to discuss the Alfresco strategy of meeting the needs of Web 2.0 and exceeding the likes of Sharepoint. This is an interesting note and one which is something I believe is the omission from his list of predictions:
– the emergence of Web 2.0 and the ensuing battle between the browser and the desktop Microsoft have made a dramatic incursion into the market with their MOSS release and to the average end user of ECM they are in pole position to become the leading product in this space; after all these users are familiar with the Office products and are somewhat ignorant to the merits of the other approaches. This is in no way a criticism of the users, they have a product which meets their needs as they are now and is something they have become familiar with over a period of time.
However it is up to us in the IT community to ensure that end users are aware of what alternative approaches may bring them, or even their IT departments if the advantage is not necessarily functional. Note that this does not mean technology led projects which I strongly disagree with, a successful architect should be able to introduce new technology to users which not only meets their obvious requirements but highlights other possible gains….the former remains the priority. Back to the point though and if we see a surge in the browser as the desktop, as oft quoted in our community, I do not expect Microsoft to be in a great position to exploit this. Of the big players in the market I expect EMC/Documentum to be in the best position to exploit this as they now have a reasonably mature product and have already spent time looking into this. IBM/FileNET will continue to struggle with how to integrate their products. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on Alfresco and how they develop in this space. For the time being though Sharepoint will be on the minds of most CIOs seeking an ECM solution, it is still unproven but as a Collaborative product would be high on my list of recommendations. If however more structured Document Management is required I’d be looking to ensure my customer does not tie themselves into a product which does not have a roadmap for how to react to the future direction we may see.