Content Management

Enterprise Content Management


At present, the major differentiator between ECM vendors is in the positioning of their solution as either content infrastructure or content services. The presence of vendors supplying a combined product is blurring this distinction, but we expect to see all the major vendors eventually providing this range of functionality, much of it acquired through the acquisition of niche players, rather than through internal development.

There are many features that we would expect to find in an ECM solution, regardless of whether it is providing a content platform or a fully featured application. There has to be a way of getting existing content into the repository, and a batch import facility is preferable, although it is something not currently supported by all vendors. We would expect content authoring tools to be present, document management functionality, such as check-in and check-out, version control, a rollback facility, a fully integrated search and retrieval engine, and workflow functionality to support at least the lifecycle of content.

Workflow is one of the areas that Butler Group feels to be contentious, and the one that provides a major differentiator between products as far as functionality is concerned. Some vendors include a comprehensive workflow engine that includes the ability to incorporate external workflows, allows complex branching and sub-processes, has a system of alerts, notifications, and escalations, and enables an organisation to define its own workflows. These vendors understand the close relationship between content and processes, and are beginning to combine ECM with Business Process Management (BPM). Others offer simple workflows that allow the management of documents through the creation, editing, and publication processes.

Market Analysis

Although the value of the ECM market is currently extremely buoyant, and will remain so, Butler Group believes that there are still too many vendors in this space. We therefore expect to see the current consolidation continuing, and vendors such as Oracle, BEA, and Microsoft may look to make acquisitions in the next 12 months.

Over the next few years we believe that many of the niche players will disappear, acquired by the large vendors with a global presence looking to plug gaps in their functionality. We would expect it to become more difficult to differentiate between the products offered by these large vendors, with the real differentiator perhaps being in the associated services offered.

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