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The End of ECM – Or Just Avoiding The ‘C’ Word?

by Naresh Sarwan on May 18, 2010

In this article, Ron Miller of FierceContentManagement.com makes the suggestion that we are possibly witnessing the end of ECM, citing comments by Cheryl Mckinnon, CMO of Nuxeo (and formerly of OpenText) and other comentators.  The various factors that Ron discusses are the release of SharePoint 2010, the rise of open source ECM vendors (like Nuxeo), CMIS and Cloud based alternatives to more monolithic enterprise software of the type provided by OpenText and EMC (via Documentum):

When you also factor in that each vendor will be able to access one another’s repositories through CMIS, and that this is probably only going to broaden as the CMIS standard matures, suddenly ECM as a pure content repository looks like a losing proposition to companies like EMC, who are used to making a lot of money on the deal.  I’m not sure I’m quite as confident about SharePoint’s position as McKinnon, but clearly it has had a massive influence on ECM, even if it doesn’t really do “E” or “M” all that well (but allows end users to create plenty of “C”). [Read More]

The assumption that Ron is discussing (although not necessarily agreeing with) is that there is a commoditisation of ECM taking place which is making it harder for enterprise oriented vendors to charge on the same scale as they might hitherto have been able and this is predicating the end of ECM in its current form.  Whether or not this is perception or reality is hard to judge.  The current ongoing global financial situation may well encourage some investigation of alternatives and that could be the real game-changer for many enterprises.  SharePoint is also generally perceived as being a safe proposition for corporate IT managers.  The fact that Microsoft are able to leverage existing relationships with enterprises may also be a factor in the larger ECM vendors decisions to distance themselves from using the term “Content” now SharePoint is being touted as a serious ECM proposition.

The recent move by EMC to change the name of the content technologies division  to “Intelligent Information Group” so as to avoid references to “Content Management” appears to be a fairly typical case of a vendor trying to differentiate themselves by altering the description of what they offer.  Despite the change in name, systems and services to manage content in enterprises is actually what they probably will still probably be providing.

While the death of “ECM” as an acronym to drop into vendor literature, webinars and blog posts might be a potential scenario, the need for enterprises to manage ever growing repositories of content isn’t going away any time soon.  More likely thanks to CMIS, the ECM market is probably heading in the same direction as the RDBMS industry with a period of consolidation and vendors taking positions at different tiers of the market depending on their historical strengths.

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