Enterprise Content Management Predictions – 2015

This post will give some thoughts in regards to the futures of ECM and what we would expect in 2015.  In looking back, we neglected to do a predictions last year.  See our post detailing our 2013 predictions for Documentum.  This post will compare our thoughts and predictions in the past for the previous two years as well as give our thoughts for the upcoming year.

Documentum Predictions from 2012.

Before getting into any of our predictions, should do a full recap/result tracking of our last post focused on Documentum.

  • Webtop Installations Will Start to Fade – We think we nailed it here. New installations rarely look at Webtop.  Still lots of Webtop deployed but, with D2 and xCP announced and no roadmap for Webtop (or the sunk cost in procuring it), many users are still maintaining their existing Webtop instance.
  • Lots of Interface Evaluations – We have seen multiple evaluations so would say this is true. Not surprising, we increasing see our own product, HPI and Cara considered as alternatives to D2 or xCP.
  • Slowly Upgrading to D7 – While it wasn’t a major release, similar to Webtop above, clients have stayed on the existing releases and didn’t jump to D7 that quickly. As mentioned during our EMC World Review in May of 2013  only 25% of clients have migrated to D7.  7 SP2 goes off of primary support on April 30th 2015, so we would predict many clients will be upgrading to D7.1 this year.
  • Performance will be a Hot Topic – We probably missed on this one. Performance is important but clients have either overcome with hardware solutions or adjusted their expectations.
  • Mobile Demands Continuing to Grow – Would also have to say that we might have missed on this one. While mentioned, we are seeing it less and less as a “must have”.
  • Cloud Discussions, but Slow Adoption – Would say we hear about cloud and have clients interested but the bulk of our clients continue to maintain their “on premise” solutions so slow adoption was correct.
  • SharePoint discussions Are Dead – Truly correct and even deader now.
  • Maintenance Costs Increasing – In general, saw this throughout the year.

Overall, would say we were pretty good.

ECM Predictions for 2015

Rather than do predictions for only Documentum, we thought this year we would try to do some general predictions.  Our predictions tend to lean to the more tactical rather than the broad and ambiguous.  Rather than “the internet of things will…”, the predictions below are what we see happening in 2015.

  • Time to Upgrade – Finally – Given the age of most of our clients systems coupled with a reawakening economy, we are seeing more clients with older infrastructures, skipping a release or two and either upgrading their legacy ECM implementation (FileNet, OpenText and Documentum) or moving to something new. We continue to see clients moving to Alfresco from legacy systems and would expect the trend to accelerate in 2015.
  • Box.net to follow SharePoint and eRoom – We have done some integration work with Box and, while it has some great collaboration features, we would predict that many of the keys to Box’s success (viral adoption and freemium) will lead to Box’s struggles getting to be a true ECM solution, similar to SharePoint and eRoom before that. Thinking goes this way,
    1. users pick up Box on their own for collaborating and sharing information
    2. virally expands to other users because easy to use, unstructured and free
    3. users/IT attempt to add some structure to address ECM issues – Box attempts to collect money and is no longer free
    4. original user is disappointed by structure and just uses email or any of 100 other free, viral collaborations tools.

When it comes to replacing existing ECM platforms, we have not seen any of our clients move to Box.  While some consider it, it typically it only the collaboration portion of the overall ECM architecture.

  • Mobile continues to be a “nice to have” for ECM and moves to HTML5 – As we talk with clients, we often see a mobile request, but it is a small piece of the overall ECM infrastructure. We would also predict that mobile ECM access will more and more be small browser based applications rather than native applications.  Like Client/Server was in the 90s, users are less and less likely to want to download/update an application on their mobile device if an email link to the browser on their mobile device can get them the desired document quickly.  IT doesn’t want to worry about distributing a “fix” to all the different mobile devices and worry about which device (Android, Apple, other) are used by a “Bring Your Own Device” workforce.
  • HTML5, JavaScript replacing the browser plug-ins – Just as we have seen the combination of HTML5 and JavaScript replace Flash other plug-ins (Adobe, Video) fade as more and more capabilities are handled by the browser itself. We are already seeing the impact/performance of PDF.JS and Video.JS and would expect to continue to see traction in simplifying and consistency from the browser perspective.
  • Nimbleness, Timing and Server Cost push to Private Cloud – Clients are embracing the private cloud as an alternative to more IT server infrastructure and to address nimbleness and speed. One CIO said, “We had a client ask us to get something done in 15 days, in a traditional server procurement cycle, there was no way we could get that done”.  We continue to see clients trend away from a public cloud for their ECM content.  Many of the planning efforts we do with clients typically include private clouds with Amazon leading the vendor choice.
  • Case Management Reawakens – Coupled to the ECM upgrade push, we think we will see more and more focus on case management. We are seeing demand particularly from the insurance industry  to upgrade systems build pre-2005.

ECM Predictions Beyond 2015

We will go out on a limb here and try to mention some ideas of things we may see glimpses of in 2015 but more see accelerating after 2015.

  • Big Data drives disruption in ECM – The amount of investment in Big Data solutions, like Hadoop, will gradually trickle into ECM infrastructure. While Big Data addresses the old Data Warehouse, we would expect to see innovative companies start to leverage components and concepts for the Document Warehouse.  A couple of quick thoughts:
    • ECM Appliance replaces the ECM Database – One key holdover from the original image processing systems of the 80’s and ECM of the 90’s has been the underlying relational database underneath all of our traditional ECM vendors. Big Data solutions have replaced the traditional database (and DBA) with more of a Data appliance that self-indexes to avoid the traditional DBA role of adding columns.  We would expect this approach to be adopted by the ECM vendors with structure being defined at the application level rather than in the underlying database.  We are already seeing the appliance approach with both Alfresco and Documentum as search is more and more focused on a Solr/Lucene appliance rather than the underlying database.
    • Backup and Restore starts to fade – Big Data pushes the infrastructure requirement of always up. Just as the Storage Area Network (SAN) has removed the need for a back-up of our documents/files, Big Data solutions like Hadoop, bring in the component of never having to back-up the database as it is automatically replicated across servers with redundancy.
  • Multiple ECM tools rather than consolidate to one ECM platform – Clients have been telling us for a while that “we will never get to one ECM tool”. Multiple reasons include:
    • Don’t want to rely on one vendor – trust – cost
    • Small systems have “built in” ECM that we should leverage
    • Tons of collaboration tools (see Box note above) that users pick

A publish approach focuses on building infrastructure to push documents from the authoring/approval ECM tools to a common search platform when they are ready or to other ECM platforms.  This could be after a document is approved or released.  This light integration strategy avoids the management of consumers in the authoring application while allowing for access when documents are deemed sharable.

Let us know your thoughts below.

5 thoughts on “Enterprise Content Management Predictions – 2015

  1. Regarding mobile, I can understand the arguments for a browser based approach. But in the other hand, this cannot address offline requirements. And from what I can see, there are more mobile ECM users and thus more requirements for offline access and seamless interactions with a subset of contents/artifacts, whatever the status of the network connection is (e.g. annotate offline, approve offline…, search offline)

    • Alexis,

      Thanks for the message. I think we focused on ECM needs – our traditional search/retrieval/approve. With bandwidth more readily available, the need for offline seems to have faded. Given the efforts to update a native application across multiple BYO devices, we think most ECM clients will be happy with a connected/browser approach.


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