Gartner ECM Magic Quadrant – Thoughts for 2014

We last posted our thoughts about the Gartner review of the ECM industry back in 2011.  With the updated report released (EMC offers a download here), we thought we would share our thoughts for clients evaluating ECM tools.  As we did back in 2011, we will not try to cover all of the ECM vendors but focus on certain ones based on our experience.

Structure of the Review

The ECM magic quadrant has been around since the 1990’s and has evolved over time.  The report is available free from Documentum and can be accessed here.

Gartner rates the vendors based on the following individual components

  1. Document Management (20% – up from 15% in 2011)
  2. Web Content Management (5% – down from 10% in 2011)
  3. Records Management (10% – same as 2011)
  4. Image-processing applications (15% – same as 2011)
  5. Social Content (15% – up from 10% in 2011)
  6. Content Workflow (20% – down from 25% in 2011 and included BPM)
  7. Extended Components (15% – up from 10% in 2011)

TSG thoughts on the overall model:

  • We are not quite sure why Social and WCM continue to be evaluated. It would seem that Social is somewhere in the collaboration/synch/share instance and might be better served by a separate evaluation.  WCM tools have evolved and major players like Adobe are not even in the listing.  While it makes sense that most tools offer some type of collaboration, heavy users of Document/Image/Workflow are pretty focused away from the Social and WCM areas for their evaluations.
  • Document Management should be a higher percentage with Image-Processing applications lower in percentage. Since 2011, our clients have moved away from scanning as they deal with more and more electronic documents and less paper.

TSG thoughts – what’s missing?

  • We would like to see something regarding Cost of Ownership. As ECM has evolved, our clients are moving away from proprietary pricing and consulting models.  Any rating of ECM tools should include some type of construct around cost.
  • We would like to see something on Ability to Extend/Integrate. Similar to Cost of Ownership, the ability of clients to extend with vendor support for APIs and adapters is a major component in the success of an ECM platform.  Some tools are more open than others and, also tied to cost of ownership, make integration easier and less expensive.
  • We would like to see a better understanding of a partner ecosystem. While we admit to being biased here, clients need a competitive environment to procure integration services.  If vendors limit solutions or access to only their consulting divisions, flexibility and innovation decreases and cost increases due to the monopoly on services.

Completeness of Vision versus Ability to Execute

The “magic” quadrant is the combination of Gartner’s thoughts on completeness of vision and ability to execute.

  • Vendors with high scores on both are leaders
  • Vendors with high vision, lower ability are visionaries
  • Vendors with low vision and high ability are challengers
  • Vendors with low scores on both are niche players.
2014 Magic Quadrant

From the “completeness of vision”, the vendors line up as:

  1. IBM – up from 3rd in 2011
  2. EMC/OpenText – up from 4th and 5th in 2011
  3. Alfresco – up from 6th in 2011
  4. Perceptive
  5. Hyland
  6. Oracle (down from 1 in 2011)
  7. Xerox
  8. Microsoft (down from 2nd in 2011)

This “completeness of vision” list from 2011:

  1. Oracle
  2. Microsoft
  3. IBM
  4. EMC
  5. OpenText
  6. Alfresco
  7. Adobe

We tend to discount the “ability to execute” as it tends to lean toward an evaluation of market share and size of company rather than a true evaluation of ability to execute a plan.  It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that the ability to execute vendors list are led by IBM and Microsoft.

TSG Vendor Thoughts

For this review, we thought we would post some specific thoughts around ECM vendors as well as our experiences.  TSG has some data points that probably aren’t available to Gartner.  As a firm that has participated in partner programs with IBM, EMC, Alfresco, M-Files, Adobe and Microsoft, our view is shaped somewhat by those experiences.  As another data point, we receive hundreds of queries about leveraging OpenMigrate to migrate from one ECM tool to another for insight on what clients are doing.  Lastly, as an integrator in the ECM space, we often see the personal movement from one firm to another via Linked-In and other less formal communication.

TSG Vendor Thoughts – Microsoft

Microsoft with SharePoint has moved the most since 2011 compared to other vendors on the completeness of vision.   Back when SharePoint 2010 arrived, the pricing model of Microsoft giving it away had clients (and Gartner) reasoning “why not SharePoint for ECM”.  In the last three years the vision of “SharePoint can do everything” has had a boomerang effect of “but it isn’t really that good at anything” and has substantially cooled off, particularly in the ECM space.  We used to receive numerous inquiries asking to move from one ECM to SharePoint but those have dropped off to minimal.

We tend to advise clients to regard SharePoint as a collaboration tool rather than the true records and document  management component of ECM.

Vendor Thoughts – EMC/Documentum

EMC/Documentum has faded in recent years on the Gartner evaluation but hasn’t left the leader segment.  Similar other legacy vendors including IBM and OpenText, we see some declining market share and clients looking for alternatives. However, as many clients’ Documentum infrastructure is intertwined and integrated throughout the business, migrating to alternatives is a slow process.  While the report mentions Documentum solutions particularly in Life Sciences , we haven’t seen adoption from our Documentum clients or other sources.  As we have pointed out in recent years, IIG/Documentum is the worst performing division at EMC but still very profitable.  In an effort to expand revenue, Documentum has added solutions mostly as proprietary consulting offerings sacrificing some of their partner network.

We tend to see Documentum still a major component for many existing clients but not as a candidate for new clients or replacement of other ECM tools.  For more detail on Documentum and Roadmap, see our write-up of EMC World 2014.

Vendor Thoughts – IBM

We were surprised to see IBM as the leader in both completeness of vision and ability to execute.  Usually Gartner will hedge with different leaders in the different categories.  Some relevant thoughts on IBM:

  • Gartner is giving them credit for a “suite” that includes different, and not necessarily compatible, content management tools with different repositories. We would say the main ECM tool was procured in the FileNet purchase.  Other products do as much to cloud the offering as support it.
  • TSG receives a high number of migration requests to migrate from FileNet to something else (mostly Documentum or Alfresco).
  • We would be curious as to the clients that Gartner references as “staying put” as to whether they are large IBM shops/outsourcing/consulting clients. In clients we know that are FileNet focused, all are IBM shops.

IBM is difficult to evaluate as it is either a software company that provides consulting or a consulting firm that has software.  In our history, TSG has been both a FileNet partner as well as an IBM partner before the purchase of FileNet by IBM.  In both cases we found it difficult to partner with the organization given leverage of their own internal consulting resources.

Vendor Thoughts – M-Files

As a new entry last year and making progress this year, TSG has been conducting some R&D on M-Files in the ECM space.  M-Files is built on Microsoft tools and components so it is somewhat different than most of the other vendors that have focused on Java.  We think M-Files has had recent success with the Microsoft tool approach with the fading of SharePoint.

Overall, M-Files has some good expanding capabilities and focus but is too small for Gartner to consider in the ability to execute space.  M-Files’ primary interface is a client/server interface that demonstrates well to Windows users. M-Files’ web interface is not as full-featured as the client-server interface but is being updated.  The release of a fully functional web-based Interface is a key decision point for many ECM customers as cost conscious enterprise customers rarely want to manage client installs on desktops and for third party/cloud connections.

We would expect M-Files to continue to make progress year over year.

Vendor Thoughts – Alfresco

We thought this would be the year that Alfresco finally cracks the “Leader” category as their size and revenue is greater than when Documentum was a leader back in the 90’s.  Having always been in the Visionary category, Alfresco has a significant advantage over legacy tools in their understanding of the ECM space and the consistency of their engineering via the leadership of John Newton, co-founder of Alfresco and former co-founder of Documetum.  We would agree with Gartner that Alfresco’s knowledge of the ECM market is better than other firms due to their experience.

Some points of comparison for Alfresco versus some of the legacy vendors in the Leader category.

  • Alfresco only has one ECM tool and focus, different from IBM/FileNet and EMC/Documentum that have multiple repositories and offerings.
  • Alfresco has minimal consulting revenues or consulting divisions that muddy the water between product and consulting offering.
  • Alfresco is growing at 30%+ compared to the market for ECM that is growing at 10% and legacy vendors that are actually losing market.

It seems Gartner cautions on Alfresco are mostly due to the size of the company and partner network.  We would argue that when compared to big firms like IBM or EMC:

  1. having a focused company that’s sole focus is ECM software is much better for clients than being a small part of a large company that does a variety of software, hardware and consulting.
  2. relying on a partner network rather than proprietary consulting gives clients more flexibility and choice.

In regards to cautions, Gartner raises a good point on pricing as the model is changing as Alfresco matures.  We would respectively disagree on the partner network as well as the caution in regards to Alfresco’s size as already mentioned.

Vendor Thoughts – Others

While, as an ECM integrator, we often hear about many of the other vendors in the evaluation, we aren’t comfortable sharing detail except some high-level observations:

  • Highland – Long term vendor – remember seeing them way back in the 90’s at AIIM and other conferences.  We haven’t seen them as much evaluated as true ECM platform, but more based on their industry focus (healthcare).
  • OpenText – We have done a couple of migrations from OpenText and work with many OpenText alumni now at Alfresco but never picked them as an integration partner.   Tight ties to SAP, both in product and relationship, seem to be leading most of their differentiation.
  • Oracle – TSG has completed multiple migrations from Oracle, probably our largest “from” client besides IBM/FileNet.  Oracle, along with IBM and Microsoft, are good examples of Gartner saying that bigger is better.


As we said back in 2011, we are not sure if the “Magic Quadrant” is still as magical anymore.  In looking at the quadrants, there just seems to be a big glob of vendors all positioned in the low corner of the leader section with most small vendors pushed into the challenger section.  See comparison below as vendors moved slightly from 2009 to 2011 you can see Gartner’s “Bigger is Better” focus as all 5 of the leaders from 2009 are still leaders in 2014.

There has been buzz in the industry for awhile that, to be recognized as a leader, you have to “spend your way” into Gartner’s favor.  See related post of NetScout suing Gartner over magic quadrant placement.  Having worked with Gartner in the past, we are not quite sure that is true, but worry about how to keep an evaluation objective if selling services to the companies in the evaluation.

As we said back in 2011, with the commoditization of ECM, we would expect vendors like Alfresco to be substantially better positioned than the “old-school” enterprise ECM tools when it comes to innovation and quickly evolving their product.  Given Gartner’s focus on bigger is better for  “ability to execute” and age of the ECM marketplace, we would recommend clients discard that criteria and look under the covers to evaluate vendors on completeness of vision based on their own weighting.

Let us know your thoughts below.