Gartner ECM Magic Quadrant 2015 – Is it really magic anymore?

Last year we posted on Gartner’s ECM review .  With the report available last month (multiple vendors are offering a free download including Hyland), we thought we would share our thoughts for clients evaluating ECM.

Overall thoughts

Very similar to last year, our overall thoughts continue to be that Gartner thinks bigger is better – IBM, OpenText and EMC lead in the overall quadrant approach in regards to being up and to the right.


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 visionary, niche section.  For comparison, see the quadrants from 2009 – 2011.


Last year we posted our thoughts about the rankings.  Our thoughts were the “Completeness of Vision” was more important than the ability to execute.  This year we thought we would just focus on the Vendor Strengths and Cautions with the two products we know the best – Alfresco and Documentum.

Alfresco – Vendor Strengths and Cautions

Strengths – Gartner mentions a “keen sense of the market” in addition to APIs and “off the self” integration to common products (SAP, SharePoint and Salesforce).  Also mentioned are a consistent experience across social, mobile and cloud as well as a focus on quality of a certified partner network.

Cautions – Gartner mentions limited vertical solutions for industries, performance and scalability mentions by certain customers as well as a lack of experienced implementation partners.

TSG Thoughts – As we mentioned before, over the last ten years it seems like Gartner is more impressed with “bigger is better” in evaluating ECM unlike when the quadrant first arrived back in the 1990’s where startups like Documentum were seen as leaders.  Unlike bigger competitors (IBM, EMC/Documentum, OpenText), while Alfresco has a smaller market share, Alfresco has a consistent ECM product and the company is growing rather than declining.  We would say that Alfresco’s focus on Open Source and a consistent product puts them in a substantial lead in regards to incorporating new features in their product.  Lucene/Solr is an obvious example where their competitors have struggled with proprietary solutions.

In regards to Gartner’s cautions, we have to disagree on the performance and scalability based on our experience and Alfresco’s recently announced their 1 billion document benchmark.  Also, as a firm that has been a partner of many of the different ECM vendors, we would rate Alfresco’s partner program better in that, since we joined the partner community, Alfresco has focused on growing a tight and experienced partner community rather than just a large number of partners (ex: Microsoft).

Gartner is correct in that Alfresco has chosen to stay away from developing vertical solutions for certain industries.  Our experience is that vertical solutions typically involve consulting and Alfresco has chosen to focus on software rather than consulting.  Alfresco does rely on consulting partners for solutions.  You can see the TSG solutions on our website as well as additional partner solutions for Alfresco on the Alfresco Website.


Note:  Gartner mentions the sale of EMC to Dell but states that the impact of the sale on Documentum is yet to be known.  See our thoughts from last month on the purchase of EMC by Dell .

Strengths – Gartner mentions a robust Documentum portfolio, that the D2 client provides a “modern persona-based UI with a better user experience” and that their partner ecosystem is well-established and has a robust global presence.

Cautions – Gartner mentions concern over the sale of Syncplicity (something we posted on earlier this year), customer support and service issues, and that Documentum is only deployed in large enterprises due to it’s complexity and no offering for smaller solutions.

TSG Thoughts – As we have mentioned here often, from a technology perspective, we still view the core repository components of Documentum as extremely robust compared to the majority of other ECM vendors.

Where Documentum has struggled in our perspective has been a continued focus on sales, both in regards to products, consulting, their partner network and their position in EMC as a cash cow rather than a growth investment.  This is where Gartner misses the boat with a “bigger is better” evaluation.  As a larger firm, Documentum has been looking to add additional sales rather than focus on the core repository and, in some ways, has fallen behind.   New products, like D2, InfoArchive, Project Horizon or Vertical solutions are seen as new sales channels rather than investing to improve the product as a whole.  Documentum’s focus on their own consulting has hurt the partner ecosystem.  A focus on cost cutting has hurt customer support and service issues as many of these services and engineering have been moved offshore.

We were honestly surprised by the listing of D2 as a strength as we have seen multiple clients struggle as well as many clients stay on Webtop.

As we mentioned in our announcement of the sale of EMC to Dell, Dell did not buy EMC for Documentum.  See latest article from Michael Dell himself that has no reference to Documentum as well other posts that mention that Dell will sell off 10 billion in software and services to pay for the purchase.  We would have to imagine that ECD is part of that sale.  Customers considering Documentum should be aware of how the purchasing entity will affect the ongoing roadmap and support from Documentum.

If you are interested in more of our thoughts around Documentum, particularly compared to Alfresco, see this earlier post on a Whitepaper comparison from earlier this year.

Other Vendors

We wanted to include some high-level thoughts of the other vendors evaluated.

Hyland – We don’t run into Hyland often but see them more in the healthcare.  Like Documentum, they have been around since the 1990’s and have a large client base.

IBM – Gartner had IBM leading in regards to both completeness of vision and ability to execute but the cautions are very serious and include:

  • Gartner mentions a strength of the “completeness of the ECM product line” but a caution in “multiple product lines with overlapping capabilities” and that the extensive product line adds “choice, purchasing, implementation and support challenges for some customers.
  • Gartner customer survey indicated “less satisfaction with IBM purchasing, customer service, implementation and upgrade support”

We have done multiple migrations from FileNet and used to be a FileNet (and IBM) partner.  Many of the FileNet instances we have migrated were extremely old (anyone remember the OSAR optical Jukeboxes?).

Microsoft – We see less and less of SharePoint consideration within our ECM customer base.  Clients seem to be looking for it as collaboration but less and less for ECM.  Gartner’s thoughts are consistent as a significant caution was in regards to having to rely on third-party add-ons for basics such as imaging, records management, workflow and BPM.

OpenText – Gartner’s review (and our thoughts) are similar to IBM and EMC.  Large product base but concern about support and service responsiveness.  Like Hyland is known for Health Care, OpenText seems to rely on SAP integrations.  Significant concern for acquired products (like IBM) in developing or improving those products.


Overall, Gartner presents some great points that the ECM industry is facing a consolidation.  Specialist vendors that offered components of the ECM solution are now part of larger EMC suites from legacy ECM vendors like IBM, OpenText and EMC/Documentum.   Advantages include one-stop shopping and potentially less complexity.  Disadvantages include lock-in and less alternatives.

All of the bigger vendors are seeming to struggle with support of their client base.  We would disagree with Gartner that a bigger vendor with a “one stop shopping” is better than a best of breed approach, particularly if the client has little interest in the other components of the ECM suite.

As we said back in 2011, with the commoditization of ECM, we would expect newer, growing vendors like Alfresco to be substantially better positioned than the “old-school” enterprise legacy ECM tools that are stuck on enterprise pricing and sales models.  We are not sure if, given the criteria, that concept can ever be calculated into to the Gartner scoring model.

2 thoughts on “Gartner ECM Magic Quadrant 2015 – Is it really magic anymore?

  1. What about some of the smaller vendors, such as Objective? Do you have any high-level comments about these players?

    • Simon,

      In regards to the other vendors, we only wanted to focus on those tools we implement the most (Alfresco and Documentum) and the other tools we often see in our migration efforts from legacy platforms (IBM, OpenText, Documentum…). We have done some internal work with MFile in the past but have not worked with Objective.


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