This is one of those blog entries that's not particularly concerned with answering a question, instead it's more intent on presenting some information and letting the reader figure out what it all means. After all, you can (and should) read vendor announcements, analyst presentations, descriptions of solutions sets offered by systems integrators, "what's hot and what's not" lists etc... but at the end of the day, from where I see it, what matters is who is shopping for what, who is buying what, what's working where (and what isn't), what's being phased-out or replaced...and, of course, how this affects the demand for talent.
Though I attend vendor conferences and read a great deal, my looking glass is shaped primarily by the executives who are ECM leaders in their organizations; the consultants who evaluate, architect, design and implement solutions; developers and configuration specialists, end users who love (or hate) the solutions they've been given to work with; and the developers and administrators who bring apps to life and keep them running.
All of that being said, here's what happened (or didn't happen) in 2010 and what it might (or might not) mean:
1) ECM is dead. Long live ECM.- This little diddy got a lot of buzz this year. For anyone who's unaware, XXX is dead. Long live XXX is a spin-off from the King is dead. Long live the king. The fill-in-the blank format was brought into vogue in 2010 when Arianna Huffington proclaimed that Publishing is dead. Long live publishing and Wired magazine's Chris Anderson proclaimed The Web is Dead. Long live the Internet. So why not be cool and use the same framework when talking about ECM?
After all, it wins attention, leads people to believe you are "in the know" and part of the "smart crowd", and it confuses everyone. I have not spoken to a single ECM professional (who was not employed by a vendor) who wanted to spend a second pondering this topic. The bottom line is that ECM did not die in 2010. Some vendors tried to give it another name, but it didn't catch. And you know what else? If everyone else wants to be labeled something other than ECM, Microsoft will cheer you on. Already a favorite in the collaboration game, Sharepoint will gladly stand up and be counted when folks go shopping for their next ECM solution.
2) Sharepoint is (at least part of) the solution. Talk to anyone who sells non-Sharepoint ECM software or solutions and they'll tell you that eighty per cent of their customers ask them the same question. "Does it work with Sharepoint?" If the answer is "no", they're told to go away. As a result, nearly every ECM vendor plays nicely with Sharepoint. The hold-outs of 2009 are no longer holding out, they're scrambling to retain their legacy presence or shape-shift their offerings into something that feels cozy next to Sharepoint.
3) EMC gives (?) its regulatory compliance business Life Sciences business to CSC. Technically, this happened in 2009, but Documentum's DCM customers began to weigh the impact of this event in 2010. What has this meant for DCM customers? Shopping with a gun pointed at your head.
A good number of Life Sciences companies spent time and money getting their DCM systems configured, customized and accepted by their user communities and now, as they make upgrade decisions, they'll be faced with doing it again. What EMC and CSC might, might not have, expected was that customers in this space aren't necessarily choosing FirstDoc. They're also looking at FirstPoint (a CSC offering that sits on top of Sharepoint) and NextDocs (which is also Sharepoint based) which could mean a loss in Life Sciences customers for EMC IIG.
4) Consolidation in the ECM sector. Let the one-stop shopping begin. I wrote a post about this Is One-Stop Shopping The Trend in the Regulatory Management Space earlier this year, but CSC took it to a new level earlier this month when it announced that it was acquiring ISI, a privately-held, global leader in regulatory submission management solutions and related implementation and outsourcing services for the Life Sciences sector.
It will be interesting to see what vendor decisions like this will mean for customers. Higher price tags, better integration, gain or loss in competitive advantage, cloud readiness and so on... What is going to happen to innovation in this space? None necessary or scary?
To be continued....