10 questions on the current state of the ECM market

On Wednesday I recorded an ECM talk podcast in which I put  10 questions  about the current state of the enterprise content management market to Alan Pelz-Sharpe.

Click on the play button below to hear the podcast. If you don’t see the play button (it needs Flash) then you can get the podcast from here. The podcast is just over 50 minutes long.

The ten questions, and a flavour of some of Alan’s answers are given below – there is a lot more detail in the actual podcast itself

Why have HP bought Autonomy?

Alan said that most analysts were surprised at how much HP paid for Autonomy.  The best guess at what HP (a hardware company) wants to do with Autonomy (a software company) is that they may wish to create some kind of appliance which has Autonomy’s IDOL search engine already loaded onto it (a bit like the Google search appliance).  One thing that HP and Autonomy have in common is that they have both bought well-regarded electronic records management vendors (Tower and Meridio respectively), and done very little with them.

How hard have the ECM vendors been hit by the rise of SharePoint?

Alan said that the ECM vendors haven’t bit hit as hard as you might think. Their revenues are still rising, and most of them enjoy good relations with Microsoft.

How does EMC and Open Text compare with the bigger ECM vendors (Oracle and IBM)

Alan said that Oracle and IBM are so big because they do a huge variety of stuff as well as ECM.  But at the end of the day if you are buying FileNet from IBM you are dealing with the FileNet division, not the whole massive company. So for buyers of ECM systems company size doesn’t matter that much.  Open Text is the largest company that focuses exclusively on ECM.   EMC’s business is mainly about storage.  They bought Documentum, but Documentum is very different from the rest of the EMC group and there has not been many synergies.

What is happening in the CRM (Customer relationship management) arena and how does it relate to ECM?

Essentially ECM and CRM are seperate worlds without much overlap.  CRM is a vital tool for many organisations.  As yet there is not a great deal of tie-ins with ECM.  Oracle has both a CRM and an ECM suite, which work together reasonably well.  SAP signed a large deal with Open Text but there doesn’t seem to be a huge number of organisations using SAP together with Open Text products.  Many of the CRM tools will do a little bit of document management of customer related documents, but for the most part organisations will have CRMs that don’t talk to whatever ECM product(s) they have

The Europeans have just revised their electronic records management specification (MoReq2010).  When will the US records management standard DoD 5015 be revised (it was issued back in 2007)

Alan said he didn’t know of any plans to revise DoD 5015.  SharePoint drove a horse and cart through DoD 5015 because Microsoft made the decision to release a document management product that did not comply with it but had huge market success.  Alan said he didn’t see the point in revising it –  it was specifically tailored to US Government (DoD stands for Department of Defense) so some of the requirements are overkill for organisations in other sectors.

After the podcast it occured to me that there was no need for DoD 5015 to be revised.  MoReq2010 is the first of the electronic records management specifications to be extensible. Rather than revise DoD5015, if there were requirements specific to the US  (or to particular sectors in the US) that were not covered in the core requirements of MoReq2010 then a seperate module could be written to cover those requirements for vendors wishing to target their products to the US market.

What is happening in the intranet arena?

Alan said that nothing dramatic is happening in the intranet arena.  Some intranet makeover projects will have been hit by the economic downturn.  Alan can’t understand why some organisations want to use the same product to manage there external web-site and their intranet – to him they are fundamentally different things with different requirements.

Do you know any organisation that manages their e-mail well?

Alan said that of all the ECM implementations that he sees, the type that gives the quickest and most reliable return on investment is an e-mail archiving tool brought in to take stored e-mails off the mail servers.  I said I would like to see some of the e-mail archiving vendors apply for certification for their products under MoReq2010, so that buyers could be more confident of their ability to export e-mails out of their e-mail archive if they neeeded to.

What do you think of PAS 89?

PAS 89 will be a UK standard on enterprise content management, with a view to becoming an international standard.  Alan said PAS 89 was a good attempt to define the scope of enterprise content management, although it was hard to think of what an organisation would specifically use it for.

How does Alfresco compare with the proprietary ECM products 

Alan said that if we were talking about open source ECM products Nuxeo should be mentioned alongside Alfresco. Both of them are established, mainstream enterprise content management systems.  The main difference between them and the proprietary ECM products is the licensing model.

How does Google Apps compare with the established ECM products 

In terms of impact on the ECM market Alan is more interested in Box.Net than Google Apps.  Alan and James discussed the prospect of new start ups deciding not to set up shared drives and instead using services like Box.Net in the cloud to provide a relatively simple place for colleagues to store and share documents.

After the podcast it occured to me that for a good 15 years we have been wondering what would replace shared drives. Shared drives have survived so long because anything that could have replaced them for general document storage (EDRMS, SharePoint) has proved more complex than shared drives, and so shared drives retained their role as an uncomplicated, quick place to store documents.  From a users perspective something like Box.net is as simple to use as a shared drive, and has the advantage that folders and documents can be shared with people outside the team, and with people outside the organisation.   From an organisation’s information management point of view box.net is currently little better than a shared drive in terms of being able to apply retention rules and a records classification (though maybe if an ecosystem grows around Box.net someone could come up with a MoReq2010 compliant plug in for it- that would be interesting!)


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