Monday, December 11, 2006

Chosing vendors for the ECM Report

I threw a little stone in the pond on Friday (see CMS Watch Blog) regarding the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for ECM. I guess it was late in the day………

Anyhow, I now feel that I really ought to be as open as possible about how I am writing the forthcoming ECM Report, in particular how I am deciding who to include and not to include. Most important for me and CMS Watch is that the process is transparent.

First up – coming up with a workable list is much harder than it might seem, and the one that is currently on my desk probably bears no resemblance to the one I sent Tony Byrne last week! But nevertheless there is in effect more than one lists.

The first is those that without whom the ECM Report would make little or no sense. Therefore the major ECM vendors such as EMC, OpenText, Interwoven etc etc constitute the logical top tier, and will be covered in depth. After this I will cover those who are currently disrupting the market and importantly getting the ear of ECM buyers (the buyers are after all who I am writing this report for). The key disruptive vendors currently include Alfresco and Oracle (particularly with the pending Stellent acquisition) – and then I have a third tier, those that are solid established and high value players but tend to play in a particular geographic or industry niche, included here might be Formtek for Cimage – they may not be as well known as the tier one and two vendors, but in the right circumstances should be considered for the short list.

My hope is that the report will meet the needs of 90% of ECM product buyers ( I can never make everyone happy) and that third tier group will likely grow as new versions of the report are issued over time. Likewise the tier 2 (disruptive) vendors may also change as some will prove to have little longevity, and others come into play.

In the CMS Watch, ECM Report that we hope to publish in Spring 07, we also want to be sure that we are sensitive to geographic variations (EVER in France and Spain, NewGen in India and Objective in Australia for example), and though we cannot hope to capture everyone (nor would I try) it is in this last group of Geographic and Vertical Industry specific that the biggest gaps will inevitably be (and of course it is complicated as even regional players often play outside their regions!).

In other words there is really no rocket science to this – and I am always open to comments and suggestions as to how to improve things. The key thing though with the ECM Report (and the other CMS Watch Reports) is that they are written solely with the needs and requirements of potential technology buyers in mind, their/your needs are the beginning and end of the inclusion and product evaluation criteria. And its also worth stating loudly that CMS Watch does not receive any revenue at all from software vendors, no consulting to them, not even flights and hotels for an event!

And if anyone at Gartner wants to slug me one, then I can’t really blame them – but that magic quadrant was really begging for it too you know ;-)


Pranshu said...

Extremely good approach Alan.

Local vendors tend to have some differentiators up their sleeves. For example - who can offer spell check in Swedish - the language of "dynamic" words but the local companies.

I would love to see companies who have found their niche in industry solutions getting a mention. Like industry specific document management solutions for Health Care (with all their legal compliance needs), for Legal ( with all their advanced search and classification needs) and more.

Another interesting angle will be to take the most respected, most complex, most innovative companies and talk about what product or combination they use - possibly across the stack.

I will egerly await the issue.

russ stalters said...


I assume you are including Microsoft along with Oracle, IBM, EMC and Open Text??

alan pelz-sharpe said...

Yes Microsoft for more than one reason - firstly they now have an ECM system (MOSS 07), but in some regards more importantly they are on almost everyones long list, and increasingly short list for ECM.

Another reason is that so many others are building off their 'platform'.


Jan Hart said...

While I quite respect Gartner, your comments/doubts on the Gartner Magic Quadrant(MQ)for ECM are well founded. Gartner have always puzzled me on what grounds they include/exclude certain vendors in the ECM MQ, and on how they rate them. Yes, they do provide a list of criteria on how they do this, but they don't go into much depth in showing the justification for their rating. I'm equally surprised they don't do a WCM MQ (only a MarketScope) as they did way back in 2002, as this would help decide whether some of the vendors are ECM or WCM.
I applaud the CMS Watch Report and especially the WCM ForresterWave from Forrester which goes into some detail in explaining how they score each of the vendors. Gartner should learn from this, and I hope blogs like this one will help them to do so.
Lastly, I see you answer that Microsoft will be included in your ECM Report. Can't say I'm convinced about this, especially since CMSWatch themselves have placed them previously in areas such as "Upper Tier". Yes, they have developed it further but see Tony's cautious note "SharePoint 2007: Ring in the new...and the old" which I tend to agree with.

alan pelz-sharpe said...

Thanks Jan - much appreciate the comments!

On Microsoft I think that they have to be included. As they will be considered for many peoples long or short lists (they already are). So inclusion in this case is not a defacto statement regarding their technology and its maturity. It is a statement that they are a major player - and as the reports are written solely with buyers in mind I believe they have to be considered.
The report will be highly critical (constructively so I hope) of all the ECM vendors equally (including Microsoft) as the objective is to inform the buyer to make better decisions.
Best :-)

Anonymous said...


I agree with you that many of these assessments are difficult to follow and are often dependent upon the marketing capabilities o vendors. ECM is a collection of a number of dirrerent technologies which most organisations already have some. I am always intrigued by the fact that some vendors such as TOWER Software Hyland and Interwoven do not get more credit for their focussed approaches to market.
I also agree that Microsoft should be included primarily due to market presence and influence

alan pelz-sharpe said...


agreed - there are two emerging paths, the platform and the application and its about finding the right fit. There are no 'bad' ECM vendors but there are some 'bad' fits - as I am writing the report I am trying to address exactly these issues. Not sure I will crack them all in version 1 for next March - but I hope that we get this message (platform/application/correct fit) across properly - as well as covering off most of the players. But there are other issues too that I am wondering how to deal with - around security (prompted by James Governor on his blog) and what should be at the platform level and what is best at the application level etc??