European ECM market’s growth prospects boosted by recognition to provide the infrastructure that will support e-business.
14 January 2002
Companies are confronted with the challenge of managing the flood of content across the enterprise and administering the critical e-processes to retain their competitive edge in the digital economy, say analysts at Frost and Sullivan, who are observing an intensification of needs for comprehensive solutions that manage, integrate and analyse enterprise content, fuelling demand for ECM software.
F&S estimate that revenues across the enterprise content management vendor community were $485 million in 2001.
The findings paint an upbeat picture of the European ECM market’s growth prospects, which are boosted by a widening recognition of ECM’s ability to provide the infrastructure that will support e-business.
“Other factors driving ECM uptake include the necessity to carefully control the information that is made available, the technology’s potential to eliminate the IT bottleneck and the contribution that ECM can make to empowering knowledge workers throughout the enterprise” notes Andrew Ball, Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
“Some commentators have suggested that ECM is a marketing tool, rather than constituting a market in its own right. The argument is that web content management (WCM) vendors are simply using the term to protect themselves from pricing pressure within their market. We are dismissing this claim as a cynical interpretation,” Ball continues.
ECM will provide the data infrastructure that will enable e-business. It will enable the capturing, management and distribution of information throughout the enterprise. The specialised functionality of WCM and document management software will still have a place in the market, but will not be seen as distinct markets.
Frost & Sullivan highlights the importance of understanding the ECM market landscape.
The projected growth in the ECM market creates abundant opportunities for software vendors. “To capitalise on the buoyant ECM market, vendors need to understand and respond to its key dynamics. These include the fact that ECM cannot be achieved through the purchase of point solutions that would separate document management from web content management,” the study adds.
The potential of the ECM market will see vendors from three different backgrounds setting out their definition of the market and reworking their products to meet the needs of this market.
“The enterprise software vendors have the breadth of products to address the key functionality that point solutions have provided. Their investments in database technology put them in pole position to manage the entire spectrum of data within an enterprise. A recognition of their ability to provide ECM means that these vendors should achieve a significant return-on-investment (ROI). The need to commit to an open architecture will be more challenging for these vendors as they are open to the accusation that their value proposition is based on integration within their own offerings rather than the wider market,” the author states.
The greatest challenge these vendors are faced with will be their ability to meet the needs of users outside the traditionally exclusive realm of the IT staff.
Meanwhile, the document management software companies are well placed to manage the need to demonstrate a return-on-investment and to deliver the ease-of-use that the market will demand. The value proposition of ECM is similar to the foundation which document management vendors have built their businesses on. Document management software has been extended throughout the enterprise to find application amongst knowledge workers.
Ball continues: “As such, these vendors are sensitive to managing the needs of non-technical users, which will be of paramount importance in the ECM market. More challenging for these vendors is the technological trend towards the harmonisation of structured and unstructured data. Their value proposition has been that their own proprietary technology was required to meet the needs of managing unstructured documentation. Extensible markup language (XML) is changing this, and enabling the enterprise software vendors to begin to challenge them in this area.”
“Web content management companies are exposed to the greatest pressure to meet the needs of the ECM market. Many of them have succeeded through offering a complete solution to web content management. WCM is one of the point solutions that ECM will bring together in a unified approach to managing enterprise information. The degree of challenge that this poses to web content management vendors is based on the fact that these are start-up vendors whose only focus has been on WCM” Ball concludes.
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