ECM in 2011 – Figuring out the Next Thing

Jan 02

2010, I predicted, would be noted as a watershed year in the Enterprise Content Management technology space. Putting my historian hat on last spring, it was difficult not to notice the convergence of a few major milestones all clustered within the May-June timeframe. The rise of interoperability standards with real momentum (ie CMIS), a growing number of ‘alternative’ delivery methods for ECM software – namely open source and SaaS, Sharepoint 2010 was launched, and is eroding the market and price point for collaborative document management offerings from the usual “leader” vendors. To keep it short and sweet: the shift from suites to platforms in ECM had begun.

Where will 2011 lead us? Some of the things in my head now that we’re 2 days into the New Year…

  • Self-service vs. gate-keeper software acquisition models will be the new opposing forces. Vendor business models that respect and encourage an educated prospect to test, prototype, question and inspect the offering will continue to gain momentum. Vendor business models that continue to insist on the layers-deep sales, ┬ámarketing and legal overhead demanded by the typical enterprise software sales cycle will continue to irritate and annoy technically savvy organizations who want to make their own informed ECM product decisions.
  • ECM Apps will be hot. New, developer and architect-friendly ECM vendors are investing in app stores and marketplaces to encourage the sale and exchange of useful add-ons, plug-ins and integration modules. It won’t be long before more complex packages to meet vertical and horizontal applications will emerge from systems integrators and boutique app specialists to take advantage of easy access to a global customer base.
  • Social Media will face a backlash. Or rather, those who never bought into the value of collaborative communication with real people to begin with will trot out new excuses to try to clamp down on information exchange. I’ve already seen senior spokespeople for mainstream ECM vendors raise the “wikileaks” fear-mongering COMPLIANCE!!!1!! message in the name of records and information management. It’s lame, misdirected, misses the point, and is just FUD 2.0. I hope this trend fades into early 2011 oblivion and that enterprises are smart enough to see through it.
  • Digital Preservation panic will rise out of the consumer world, putting the enterprise to shame. I’ve already tried to play online videos from only 5 years ago that are in formats my laptop cannot figure out. Does business and public sector yet again need to be provoked into action by the tech challenges faced in the personal space? Rather than budgeting big money for regular file conversions every few years, or copying degrading digital assets from media type to media type, perhaps it’s time to really start pushing for the adoption of open standards for digital formats as one of the few real buffers against the loss of our personal, public and corporate heritage. Is no one else afraid of our age of information overload becoming the Dark Ages 2.0?
  • There will be another acquisition of a mid-tier struggling vendor by a big cash-flush vendor who needs to mainline maintenance $$ to stay afloat with investors. People will get fired, products will be marginalized, customers will be strong armed into migrating. OK, ok. I just pulled that one out to make it 5 trends. But I’m sure I’ll be right anyways.

Happy New Year to All…