EMC and Web Content Management

I made a few observations the other week about the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management that came out recently.  I, and others, criticized what it was measuring (though one blogger defended the MQ). I made the following comment in my dissection:

Personally, I think EMC (Documentum) and IBM (FileNet) are Niche Players in the WCM world at best.  Why?  Their WCM products sell into a very specific niche, those companies that already have, or are making, investments in their EMC or IBM platforms. If you know of either product winning a pure WCM bid, let me know.

Well, no comments on them winning a bid.  Doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, just means that people that know of such wins didn’t read the post or care to comment. My point still is that EMC’s, and IBM’s, WCM offering is not the “Challenger” as the MQ seems to suggest.

Let’s dig in a little.

In the Challenger’s Corner We Have…

…EMC, IBM, and Microsoft.  I’ve commented before on SharePoint’s WCM “capabilities” so there is no need to revisit them here.  SharePoint 2010 promises some upgrades to those capabilities, but we’ll just have to wait and see.  As for IBM, they are in the same boat as EMC, so much of this applies to them as well.

Now we have EMC.  Of the “large” ECM players, they had the worst position in the MQ.  One could argue that IBM may have been a micron worse on the Completeness of Vision axis, but EMC is clearly below IBM on the Ability to Execute axis.  Given the inflation to execution from EMC being a large ECM vendor, I would argue that all of the Visionaries, with the possible exception of Clickability, are much better situated in the MQ as well.

imageThe Vision is clearly lacking, or is it?  What Gartner calls Vision includes many factors, including innovation.  It is hard to innovate with a long product release cycle that is the norm for ECM systems.  You develop an idea, pitch it, and it gets approved for the next release, in 9 months.

I’m making a timeline up here, but the point is that there could be a lot of innovation going on at EMC, it just takes too long to get to market.  By the time the new features are finally passed off to the sales and marketing folks, they are last years hot items.

There will be a two year difference between 6.5 and 7.0.  That is fine from an ECM perspective, and preferred by my clients.  From an Internet perspective, that is a lifetime.  How can the WCM product compete?

Open Source the Interface

Maybe EMC should open-source the user interface for their WCM product.  I’m not saying that they should scratch their development team.  I’m just saying that they should enlist the community to help them out.  It might not be a large community to start, but it would accomplish a couple of things:

  • Allows for clients to add that one little feature that seems to be missing.
  • Avoids the 2-year delay by freeing it from the standard release cycle.  There could still be an officially branded release, but that could be focused on back-end functionality and a tested front-end version.

EMC can still make money with the back-end and through maintenance.  In a few years, this interface could back onto the Documentum platform using CMIS, and then be used to front other systems, leading to more revenue streams.

Will this work?  No idea.  I can tell you that the Documentum WCM product line is not working now.  It is, at best, a checkbox feature for the ECM “suite”.  When I talk to the WCM community, EMC never comes up.  Not once.  Even by accident or as a joke.  It is that far out of the community’s mind set.

EMC needs to figure out what they want to do, even if it just to be content with where they are.  Not inspiring, but it would be refreshingly honest.

11 thoughts on “EMC and Web Content Management

  1. I would really love reading the answer to your remarks from both EMC and Gartner.

    I assume they will read you – and they should – but I can’t say if they will comment you.


    • They won’t reply, and I wouldn’t if I were them. I just want them to read and think. Everyone and everything can improve. I just want them to commit to doing so.


  2. Open sourcing the WCM CEVA application on top of a proprietary ECM would be interesting but I am not sure it will make it. High-end or upper mid-range WCM solutions have now to integrate more and more web-centric features (web analytics, web personalization, composite mashup integration,…). The whole make it far more complex than just a collection of some web page editing UIs. Moreover Documentum customers are more looking IMHO for a mature, robust, highly supported and maintained piece of WCM rather than some Drupal-like non-certified extensions.

    If EMC wants to give a stronger emphasize on WCM I think there a couple of possible acquisitions available out there which would be a faster road to success on this market niche (e.g: Day Software is not that expensive for a company such as EMC).

    Else coming back to the User Interface, it would be indeed interesting to have companies such as ECM Documentum be able to provide a kind of “enterprise-grade vendor-neutral CMIS UI” à la integratedsemantics.org to unify the management of various federated content items. The front-end WCM would become more a content aggregator more focused on inline editing, multi-source page based content aggregation and other kind of composite management. This would be more in adequation with your vision of the ECM/OCM I think.



    • Thanks for the thoughts Stephane. Acquisition would be a more realistic, and faster approach, but that requires a higher level of commitment to becoming a leader in WCM.


  3. Walid Elgamal says:


    Great thoughts….

    with my ex-emplyer, we deployed EMC’ WCM in many our large accounts but it was part of the fact that Documentum is the enterprise ECM standards, I have lots of war stories and wounds to share about these implementations.

    Open source is a great source for ideas and fast implementation but form a Fortune 500 IT / ECM strategy perspective, the typical EMC and IBM clients, are looking for stability and solution vision, most of the open source providers can’s offer to them, also I can see many issues on supportability, QA, product / features road map and last but not least litigation.

    As long we are on the Gartner Magic quadrant, what do you think about the EMC position BPM report for 2009; they are on challenger’s corner too …?




    • Walid, thanks for the comments. Haven’t looked at the BPM MQ, but I feel that their offering is much more solid than WCM. I think they may deserve to be a Challenger in BPM.


      • Walid Elgamal says:


        Thanks for your comment….

        Not to aggravate the EMC powers ……

        By no mean I am making a link between their WCM and BPM offering, BPM is more solid offering and has been improved considerably in the last few years

        In 2008 they were in the leaders side, I was surprised for the moving to the challengers specially after the significant effort that EMC did to tighten the BPM story and acquisition / integration of the BAM product, services interfaces, enhancement in the reporting services and the case management framework.

        This is a product I feel comfortable to take to many organizations even with Gartner opinion.



  4. Although there is a degree of the freebie on the side of a contract – its been put to great use in certain places – even where other systems have been incumbent.

    With the advent of two way SCS I expect to see the solution be more widely used as for instance comments like this could traverse back into the repository along with ratings etc. I’ve heard of the work to integrating statistics packages; and I hope that works in the same way.

    The UI is gradually moving away from the often confusing form based site into an in context editing mode and the core Documentum ideals are there enabling people on sites I’ve worked to simply link a piece of content in another cabinet and it appears on the web; with a PDF rendition as well.

    With X-Hive it opens up the system further to be able to publish content out as chunks and have them pieced together more fluidly in a portal type layout – or through web services making it more like a DB site builders can use to create the richness without dealing with XSLT (or Create_Dynamic_Content)

    The only other major problem I see is the lack of a sitemap / navigation builder, hopefully they are looking to do something to enable us poor builders to get a simple easy standard way to build it without the pain I’ve seen on a few (not all!) sites I’ve worked in.

    Although I’ve not worked with the other bigguns for a while they all feel much of a muchness – but lack the core Documentum to rely on in the back end. Alfresco and Silverstripe are probably more of a threat – given their lower entry cost to get them in place; along with the very light CMS systems such as WordPress (which is no longer just a blogging tool in my opinion and what I use outside of work).

    Overall – It’s a good product; it could be great; we’ll have to see in V7 (There’s not even a 6.5 SP2 of WP to look at either…)


    • Thanks for the more detailed insight into the product. It does have several good features, but they aren’t getting mind share out in the market. That is a problem. The two-way comment feature, which they first introduced at EMC World 2008, is great. The problem is in build the website for many. If it is too hard to build the desired website, there will be no comments.


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