The Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management, 2008

[Updated 11/10/2008 in order to make Gartner, Inc. happier, or at least less angry.]

One thing about writing entries on public transportation, no Internet.  This make is tough to refer to web sites that haven’t been opened and cached.  As a result, today (I’m optimistic, so I’m not saying “this week”) brings you Gartner, Inc.’s 2008 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management review.  Released on September 23, 2008, the biggest surprise was the number of vendors that didn’t hype it.

An important note from Gartner, Inc., Gartner advises readers not to compare the placement of vendors from last year to this year.  With that in mind, since I’m human, here is a link to my post about last year’s Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management titled, The ECM Magic Quadrant, for reference.

Enter Open Source

Before we get to the chart, there are two big developments to take note of this year.  The biggest is the inclusion of Alfresco.  That’s right, an open source vendor has arrived.  They are listed categorized as a niche player so far in this report.  Considering limited, but growing, adoption and their evolving product, that is understandable.  I think that their vision got dinged because they have been taking a stronger collaboration (read Enterprise 2.0) tack as of late, but that is just conjecture.

I think they may be selling Alfresco short, but marketplace adoption and confidence is a factor in this study.  It will be interesting to see how the perception, and reality, evolves over the next year.

Other open source vendors will be slow in appearing here as Records Management is considered a core requirement to be in the chart report.  I agree with this, but I may set the bar lower for compliance than Gartner, Inc. does as I think basic retention policies are all that is required.

The Pretty Picture

Without any further delay…(read the report to check out the graphic).

[Removed Graphic on 11/11/2008 at “request” of Gartner, Inc.]

Let’s look at some of the highlights :

  • All Hail Microsoft! The second big development is the promotion positioning of Microsoft to the leaders quadrant.  I believe this is because SharePoint has been driving the discussion about ECM heavily over the past year.  They became a key member of CMIS standard and everyone wants to be like them.  Microsoft has been driving ECM more than the other way around since last year.  They are being a leader in the important sense of the word.  Are they leading us to the right place?  Who knows?  I am counting on them to continue to show people the possibilities of ECM so that they hunger for more.  Personally, SharePoint isn’t quite ECM, but that is a dead horse for now.
  • Vision is apparently suffering in the ECM space.  Maybe as a consequence of reacting to SharePoint, most vendors appear less visionary.  Hyland Software went from a challenger on the cusp of leadership to a more solid position as a challenger.  Meanwhile, Xythos and Xerox dropped from being visionaries to being niche players.  In fact, as I look at some of the companies that didn’t drop their vision score, I see a lot of companies that didn’t heavily chase the SharePoint market.  It will be interesting to watch developments here as companies learn to co-exist with SharePoint and realize that the key isn’t to bring scalability to SharePoint, but to bring advanced ECM features.
  • SAP does ECM?  This has been bothering me a bit.  Gartner, Inc. says that Clients perceive SAP to be an ECM vendor.  That means that they have to be considered, even if most of the install base are broad SAP shops.  They are part of CMIS as a supporting player (more on that soon) and they have invested in Alfresco, among others.

6 thoughts on “The Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management, 2008

  1. Nagu says:

    There is however a school of thgought that Gartner studies are a sham and their proccesses to evaluate are out dated.


  2. “key isn’t to bring scalability to SharePoint, but to bring advance ECM features” – right on! i think this is the best line around the subject that i’ve seen for a long time.


  3. The Quadrant is flawed. If the X access was changed to “completeness of product”, Microsoft would pull hard left. Every IT executive I speak to about this new addition to the leaders quadrant laughs out loud.

    In my opinion, changing to completeness of “product” wouldn’t really affect the other players in the top right quadrant that much. As for adding advanced ECM features, I see this as extremely challenging given the reality that you are dealing with two different platforms.

    Try spanning a workflow across Documentum and SharePoint and maintaining visibility to the prior and pending steps in both applications. I’m still not convinced that the true ECM vendors need to spend valuable time and resources trying to back fill SharePoint’s gaps.

    Here is one example I heard recently that shows just how difficult it can be when you work with the lowest common denominator – SharePoint. Lets say you have a need to expose a piece of content to an employee and their manager and the manager’s manager with the ability to add comments by each then try to shield the comments of the superiors so the lower person can’t see it. That isn’t possible in SharePoint; there isn’t a concept of levels of security to meta data.

    Someone may prove me wrong but I heard this from some pretty knowledgeable folks who live and breath SharePoint.


  4. Carlos, your points are dead on but I think you are making it too hard. Let’s boil it down to this…

    In addition to the current quals for ECM that Gartner uses, how ready is the software to be used as infrastucture? For example, if I am using a BPM or CRM tool, how easy is it for me to store the content in SharePoint?

    SharePoint wasn’t designed for that. The volumes will break it.


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