Entries Tagged 'Content management' ↓

ECM deconstructs to TCM, IG and WCM?

We wouldn’t want to be left out of the new year preview craze and we do publish fairly lengthy end-of-year reviews and year-ahead previews, along with an M&A Outlook, for 451 clients — the full text of the information management reports are here and here and the M&A Outlook for Software starts here (451 Group client log in required for these).

One of my thoughts in our 2009 preview on information management is the title of this post.

I don’t think ECM (enterprise content management) has ever been a particularly well defined market.  It started out earlier in this decade as an idea, a way to talk about the need to rationalize repositories and content apps.  Then it became a market category, a way to talk about content management vendors (mostly those focused on document management really) whether there was really an “enterprise” component to deployments or not.

I think the “ECM” moniker may be nearing the end of its usefulness now (if it was ever apt or useful in the first place).  WCM (web content management) has already splintered off as it became clear that web content is really not just another type of content to be managed by a central repository.  Today WCM is more about online marketing and often ties at least as much to marketing automation and CRM products as it does to other document management apps in an enterprise.

Other “ECM” vendors are focused on TCM (transactional content management), the business process apps (claims processing, loan origination and so forth) that have been the bread and butter for ECM vendors like EMC Documentum and IBM FileNet for years.  We’re seeing more sophistication here, more ties to enterprise business apps (e.g., HR, financial) and more attempts at end-to-end offerings that include capture and document output/presentment.

The other, perhaps bigger, trend for the year ahead is the focus on ‘information governance’ (the IG in the title above) the term many vendors are applying to efforts and product lines aimed at proactive information  management for compliance and eDiscovery purposes.  Information governance from a product perspective generally includes archiving (mostly email), records/retention management and eDiscovery tools.  Here we find ECM vendors like EMC, IBM and Open Text, as well as CA, Symantec, Autonomy and others that have no stake in “ECM” of the TCM variety at all.

What do we mean when we say “ECM” these days?  Vendors like Autonomy and Symantec don’t generally claim to be in the ECM business, but yet they will be increasingly competing with the likes of IBM FileNet, EMC and Open Text for ‘information governance’ business.  It will be interesting to watch how the competitive dynamics (and nomenclature) shakes out in the year ahead.

Saas, open source and “social media” at Gilbane 2008

There were several interesting things happening at The Gilbane Conference this year and for me, these mostly came up during the analyst panel I sat on yesterday afternoon with Melissa Webster from IDC, Stephen Powers from Forrester and Guy Creese from Burton Group.

Frank Gilbane moderated and asked us first to identify a couple of key trends we see for the year ahead and then what we had heard at the conference that we disagreed with.  Here are my responses:

Open source and SaaS have a bigger impact

I was the last panelist to answer the trends question and of course generally agreed with comments made by the other analysts about IT spending cuts and the impact of SharePoint on most segments of this market.  For my bit, I called attention to SaaS and open source and the increasing presence they have in various parts of content management.

Open source was particularly prevalent this year at Gilbane.  I met with folks from Acquia, Hippo, Magnolia, and eZ Systems, and noted that Alfresco, Mindtouch and Jahia were also there (there may have been others as well).  Hippo, Magnolia and eZ are notable as European open source providers that are starting or expanding US offices.  Based on the reported success of these and other vendors, it seems open source is an increasingly viable option in content management and one that may see increased adoption when IT budgets are tight.  This is something I hope to explore more with my CAOS colleagues next year.

SaaS also had a showing though a smaller one in terms of core content management.  Clickability and Crownpeak were there, the usual WCM SaaS suspects, and both report record growth so far in 2008.  But SaaS also shows up in many areas related to content management; web analytics has been a SaaS market for years and SaaS is the dominant model in areas like personalization and A/B or multivariate testing.  Social software is also largely SaaS, particularly in customer-facing environments.  I noted the panelists at the social media panel yesterday represented two SaaS (Awareness and WetPaint) and two open source vendors (Acquia and MindTouch).

Which brings me to my other point…

Social media is too broadly defined

I didn’t disagree with anything specifically that was said during the social media panel that occurred just before our analyst panel but noted (as did others) that lumping all kinds of social technologies under a “social media” banner causes too much confusion for everyone involved.  This panel really highlighted this as the conversation veered widely between internal collaboration goals, issues and technologies, and using social technologies to market to and serve customers online.  The panelists got confused at times about which thing was being discussed and it was clear from the questions being asked that there were some in the audience were confused as well.

I harped on about this in the presentation I gave at our client event last month.   The uses for social software internally are generally pretty different from what companies are trying to accomplish in customer-facing initiatives.  As a result, the requirements of the tools are different as well.  I think it is difficult for vendors to serve both markets (internal and external) well and I expect we’ll see more specialization along these lines in the year ahead.

Someone in the audience during the social media panel asked “don’t we have to be social internally before we can use these technologies with our customers?”  That’s a good question and I think the panel generally gave her an affirmative answer.  Not sure that I agree.  I think it certainly helps if an organization culturally gets social technologies and uses them for internal communication before embarking on some sort of external initiative.  But it’s still primarily about finding the right tool for XYZ job.  Ensuring that everyone internally is using Twitter doesn’t seem a pre-requisite before you get started on some other project, unless of course it really is a pre-requisite for that particular project.

One of my general points, and I saw a lot of nodding heads in the audience when I said this during the analyst panel, is that I generally remain unimpressed with the “newness” of all this, particularly for internal use.  I  noted on the analyst panel yesterday that when I was a product manager at Sun in 2002, we used the team collaboration product from Intraspect (ultimately bought by Vignette) for a lot of stuff.  It had shared workspaces, discussion forums, comments etc.  Is that really all that different from what we’re talking about with social software internally?  There are differences, I’m not saying there aren’t.  But it is an evolution, not a revolution.  That is less true, I think, when using social technologies to interact with customers where there are really fundamentally new models.  Which again gets to my point that these are different markets with different antecedents, different integration requirements, different cultural changes required…

In any event, lots of talk about social technologies at what has always been a content management conference.  There’s no apparent slow down in the collision of these two sectors.  I noted on the panel that this makes sense in the enterprise environment where social networking without a tie to content creation, sharing and access is, as Aaron Fulkerson put it during the social media panel “kind of boring.”

‘Tis the season…

…for back-to-back events that have thrown my blogging right out the window.  I know I’m supposed to blog before going to an event to facilitate meetings and then directly after to share useful info from the event, but it just didn’t happen.

Where I’ve been:

IBM Information-on-demand (IOD) in Vegas in late October.  This was my first trip to IOD and it was bigger and flashier than I expected.  I found it a bit hard for someone focused on content management to get too much out of the high-level presentations that aim to cover IBM’s overall information portfolio, including Cognos, DB2, FileNet and Content Manager, at the least.  I felt a bit as James Kobielus over at Forrester did, a bit surprised that compliance and risk management weren’t higher level themes at the event, given what’s going on in the financial world.  But the business optimization message IBM was hitting on is also increasingly relevant for those organizations (all?) being asked to figure out how to work smarter, more efficiently, and get by with reduced budgets at the moment.  I did also have a few useful sessions specifically on eDiscovery that were helpful in finishing up our special report on eDiscovery, due to hit the shelves any day now.

Next I went to Defrag in Denver, a bit of a culture shock from one week to the next to say the least.  Here I sat on a panel with Jonathan Yarmis from AMR Research and we discussed the future of industry analysts in the age of social media.  I think we were geared for a discussion of whether or not analysts are as outdated as newspapers, but we never really seemed to get there.  No one had the heart for it in the end.

As Nick detailed in his last post, our own 451 Group Client Conference took place here in Boston November 11-12.  This was surprisingly lively and well attended, considering the macro environment.  I met with quite a few investors interested in discussing ECM and collab opportunities at various stages of development.  All wasn’t as doom-and-gloom as I’d expected, except in Brenon Daly’s M&A panel…

At the event, I gave a preso with my views on where short-term opportunities lie in the broadly-defined content management market, especially when we’re hearing reports of declining IT spending in ECM specifically.  I tried to cover the landscape from the nascent social software market, which is splitting into markets for internal collaboration software and external, customer communities, all the way through the information governance strategies we’re starting to see from large ECM and info management vendors.

Now finally, the way I’m supposed to do this, next week, I’ll be at the Gilbane Conference again here in Boston.  I’ll be on the keynote analyst panel, which is always a pretty lively session covering a range of trends and topics in content management.  Gilbane has a big emphasis this year on social software and how it is changing the world of content management, so it should be a particularly timely and useful event.  Schedule is getting pretty tight already but let me know if you’ll be there and would like to meet.

Apologies for the travelogue, will be back up to semi-regular blogging after this week’s holiday.

451 Group client event last week

Later than I intended, I wanted to give you a quick update of last week’s client event and information management’s presence at it. Kathleen, Simon, Henry, Matt and me were engaged in many 1:1s – I had 15 over the two days, which were very useful for me and more importantly, from feedback we’ve had, useful to the other person as well. Some of our analysts were booked back to back, doing 20+ meetings; that level of engagement is one of the main values we deliver at our conferences.

On the presentation and panels front, Kathleen did a great job of laying out her vision of how collaboration and social software are finally impacting content technologies, moving beyond just things that enable you to create content, to enable organizations to better handle the risks that can create. Some people who weren’t able to hear her live have asked to hear it by way of a followup – if you do, please get in touch.

My panel was great, comprising Sid Probstein, CTO of Attivio, Stephen Whetstone of Iron Mountain-Stratify and Nicole Eagan, CMO of Autonomy. We were in the after lunch slot but given we were talking mainly about eDiscovery, the future of search and the effects of the credit crunch on information management, we still got people’s attention.

Anyway, don’t take my word for it, listen to what Sid says about it, plus his thoughts on other aspect of the event here and here. I couldn’t have put it better myself!

See you in Boston next year, I hope.

Kevin Cochrane joins Day

I just saw the official announcement that Kevin Cochrane has joined Day Software as CMO.  Kevin was an early Interwoven employee, then left Interwoven for Alfresco where he ran product management.  John Newton blogged back in June that Kevin was leaving Alfresco as he wanted to move back to the Bay Area.

Bringing Kevin on board is a coup for Day, but not all that surprising given that Day’s new CEO (since May) Erik Hansen is also ex-Interwoven.  And there are some similarities between Day and Alfresco, as Day does have open source efforts and credibility via the Apache Jackrabbit project and associated Day CRX product.

Still, Day is first and foremost a commercial software vendor with a traditional licensing model, though we have expected for some time that the company might start to more aggressively pursue open source from a business perspective.  Will Kevin lead Day in that direction?

ChangeWave survey points to ECM spending decline

Our survey partner ChangeWave Research released its latest corporate software survey late last week with new data from its alliance group on software purchasing.  The ChangeWave Alliance Research Network is a group of about 20,000 business, technology, and medical professionals that participate in ChangeWave’s surveys as part of the company’s primary research efforts.

The title of this month’s report is Corporate Software Spending: 90 Day Outlook, Sharpest Decline for Software Purchasing on Record.  Sounds cheery, doesn’t it?  The report notes that “the spending decline is now hitting all software categories – the first time this has occurred in a ChangeWave survey.”

You’ll have contact ChangeWave for all the data, but I wanted to pull out the stats on the ECM specifically.  31% of those surveyed expect to decrease spending on document and enterprise content management software in the next 90 days versus only 5% expecting an increase, for a net decrease of 26%.  This was the largest decrease of any one software category included in the survey.

This surprises me somewhat as ECM generally includes a good deal of compliance, governance and risk management-related technologies, along with core business process enablement, not things that can be easily cut or postponed.  But perhaps other content management areas, like a customer website overhaul or intranet / internal collab platform do-over, are being seen as non-critical and put off.

What we are learning about eDiscovery

My posting here has been light because we’re head-down writing  a major report on eDiscovery which will arrive in November, followed by a webinar. Here’s a few of the things we’ve learned along the way, some of which we suspected in advance, some of which were totally new to us:

  • This is a highly fragmented market – there is no clear leader.
  • The market has been shaped as much by US civil procedure rules and US privacy laws – or lack thereof –  than any technology innovation.
  • However, technology innovation still has a big part to play in this market’s future direction.
  • End users are growing tired of paying by the gigabyte – new models will emerge.
  • Purchasing influence is shifting rapidly from law firms to the corporate legal departments (those large bills have focused their mind in a hurry).
  • End users are very reluctant to talk publicly about what they’re doing (but boy, are we trying to persuade them to!)
  • Some (but not all) of the large information management vendors that should have a strategy in this area don’t have anything of the sort (see first point).

Anyway there will be more where that came from when the report is out, and we’ll make sure the webinar details are posted here ahead of time. Plus we’ll be talking about this at our annual client event, which is November 10-11 in Boston, MA. See you there!

CMIS and industry standards in ECM

The rumored multi-vendor ECM interoperability effort has been unveiled.  IBM, Microsoft and EMC (and others) have collaborated on a draft specification – Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) – that is meant to addresses basic interoperability and accessibility for repository-based content.  The goal is to make it easier to pull/push managed content to/from other apps without the need for custom integrations or third-party connectors.

Some write-ups are already out there, with more detailed explanations:

CMS Wire – Industry Heavy Weights Move to Standardize Enterprise Content Management

Microsoft Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Team Blog – Announcing the CMIS Specification

Chuch Hollis – CMIS — it’s not JAS (just another standard)

John Newton’s Content Log – Alfresco releases first CMIS implementation

Chuck Hollis, as usual, has a particularly concise and on-target analysis.  He notes several of the following points that the standard effort has going for it, and I’ve added a few of my own:

  • Interoperability is a real and growing problem (James McGovern has several intereting posts on this topic).  The industry needs to start to take some steps to solve it.
  • This effort, though clearly still 1.0, has the right vendors behind it as it involves Oracle, Adobe and, Alfresco (kudos to still-small (and open source) Alfresco for getting a seat at the table on this one), along with the leads IBM, Microsoft and EMC.
  • The multi-platform / multi-language approach is a must — a Java-only standard would have left SharePoint out of the picture and not covering SharePoint interoperability would seriously hamper the effectiveness of any ECM standard at this point.
  • By working at a services layer and utilizing REST and SOAP, layering on top of existing systems and not requiring major re-writes or upgrades will be more feasible and potentially have the quickest impact.  This may also limit the sophistication of the what the standard is able to accomplish, but it’s better to get some lightweight interoperability with a larger number of existing systems.

What are the drawbacks or potential pitfalls?

  • It will likely be 2010 before we see commercial products supporting CMIS, though Alfresco has already announced an implementation of the draft spec in its Labs (fka Community) edition. An open source vendor of course has more flexibility in pushing out (unsupported) code than a commercial vendor, though Alfresco’s REST architecture makes this more straightforward.  (Alfresco does plan to support the draft spec in its commercial Enterprise code during the ratification process; no word on whether commercial vendors will follow suit).
  • Early integrations will in some cases be wrappers, perhaps shipped as downloadable modules outside of regular release cycles.  We’ll have to watch to see what this means and enables.
  • Standards efforts often go nowhere fast.

I’m sure there are more, but those are the ones that occur to me at the moment.

At this point, all we can do is note that the vendors have made the effort to develop the standard and watch as it is handed over to OASIS for ratification.  It’s a slow process – the vendors involved began work on this in 2006, which is indicative of the pace of such projects.

Thoughts on Open Text – Captaris

We knew Open Text had more acquisitions planned, the company said as much on its most recent earnings callBuying Captaris will give Open Text improved fax and document capture capabilities, which are most interesting for Open Text when tied to enterprise apps from SAP and Oracle for outbound faxing of invoices and purchase orders coming from those apps.

Open Text has bid $4.80 per share of Captaris, valuing the vendor at $131m.  Brenon Daly looks more at the financials of this deal over on the 451 Group’s tech M&A blog, Inorganic Growth. For 451 Group clients, our full deal analysis is here.

After two small deals earlier this summer (for Spicer and eMotion), this is a bigger acquisition for Open Text and one that may slow it down a bit on the acquisition front, as Captaris had a few recent acquisitions of its own to digest.   Open Text is no stranger to assimilating acquired portfolios but it’s still no small task.  As usual, Alan Pelz-Sharpe at CMS Watch does a great job outlining the potential pitfalls for customers.

Another interesting angle though is that Open Text has made a larger acquisition and it wasn’t of Vignette.  There’s been speculation like this about such a deal and we don’t doubt Vignette is in play.  This acquisition does make it seem less likely that Open Text will go for Vignette anytime soon.

Still, if approved, this deal should leave Open Text with at least $100m in cash and an apparent mood to buy, so there will likely be more (smaller) deals to come.

Old news department: Continued growth for SharePoint

A number of things passed me by this summer (yes, there was a reduced work schedule, a nice vacation — back at it now. Look for this blog to return to activity after a quiet summer).

One of the things I didn’t follow closely enough at the time was Microsoft’s earnings announcement at the end of its fiscal 2008.  Joe Wilcox at eWeek noted a 30% year-over-year growth in revenue associated with the SharePoint Server.  This isn’t in the filing, so must have been mentioned during the earnings call.  John Mancini picked this up but I didn’t find much else on it.  Then Stephan Elop, President of Microsoft’s Business Division, in a speech during a financial analyst meeting on July 24th cited fiscal year growth of 35% for SharePoint.

Microsoft claimed $800m in SharePoint revenue (in a press release) last year for fiscal 2007, so 30% growth puts 2008 revenue at $1.04 billion, 35% growth puts it at $1.08 billion.  The company also made a rather vague announcement in March the SharePoint Conference and via a press release that it had surpassed the $1 billion revenue mark.  At that point, we dug into it to find the $1 billion number was for the rolling twelve-month period.

The vagueness of the numbers is because of the difficulty of tracking individual product revenue, particulary when a product is tied to others in bundles.  Microsoft calculates SharePoint revenue by including revenue associated with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, the previous SharePoint Portal Server 2003 version, SharePoint Designer, Forms Server and SharePoint Search. SharePoint Server is sold individually and also as part of Microsoft’s Core client access license (CAL) and Enterprise CAL. So in the latter case, a share of the revenue from those bundles is associated with SharePoint.

All of this means the numbers are inexact to be sure and all licensed SharePoint seats (we haven’t seen an update on this number, from the 100 million claimed earlier this year) are not actively used.  But of course, the numbers are still indicative of SharePoint’s growing adoption, which few question. And many customers use the free SharePoint Services, which doesn’t directly show up in revenue numbers at all.

I suppose Microsoft didn’t make a big deal about it because the growth is in line with what it had already reported earlier in the year.  For others, the fact that SharePoint is a growing business for Microsoft isn’t exactly, uh, news.  Still, official news on SharePoint can be hard to come by so forgive the post if this is too old news, but I thought if I missed it, maybe others had too.