Office Web Applications

Recently I posted a tweet that suggested I believe the imminent release of the Office 2010, and in particular the Office Web Applications, poses a threat to the likes of Documentum and Open Text. It takes more than a tweet to explain this theory.

The video I watched on Office Web Apps can be viewed on the Microsoft site.

So why do I think that putting Word and Excel functionality, et al, onto the Web will pose a threat to the ECM vendors?

I was definitely impressed with the brief video show above and look forward to seeing how this feels for an end user. The site notes that the Office Web Apps are only available when purchasing the SharePoint license. This clearly indicates that the content which is being authored is thus stored in back end SharePoint repository. This close coupling between the authoring tool and the content repository is the clearest threat to the major ECM vendors. It is extremely unlikely that Microsoft will publish an API which enables customers to pick and choose the repository within which there content is stored, I admit I have not looked hard for this information so if they have published anything, positively or negatively, on this front then please let me know.

By unveiling an approach which reduces the distinction between the authoring tool and the storage repository Microsoft have increased the pressure on the ECM vendors. Admittedly the strengths of the likes of EMC and OpenText remain, for example full ECM capability including DAM and WCM, RM and compliance functionality and true scalability. However I suggest that customers will start to look past some of these when they have the power to do so and accept some of the failings in the SharePoint product set in return for the complete solution. This will not be possible for all customers, for example Pharmaceutical validation will still require some of the rich functionality of a Documentum. It also may not be incentive enough for other more CEVAs which have been developed for customers, for example A/P solutions which may use the integration between SAP and OpenText.

For simple Document Management where customers are interested in using a repository which is ‘good enough’ then I believe this is a big play from Microsoft.

Also a number of the ECM vendors have solutions for native interaction with the repository from the desktop Office products; would this even be possible with the new model? What could help the other ECM vendors? CMIS.

If Microsoft were to make a leap and enable their Office Web Applications to be used with any CMIS compliant repository then this would be a step towards customers keeping their options open.

There’s a lot that still needs to be considered but if Microsoft do lock the Office Web Apps into a SharePoint repository then I see this as a major threat to the ECM vendors.