ECM is in transition says Forrester

The enterprise content management (ECM) market is in transition as cloud and hybrid deployments, gain traction, according to a new report from industry analysts Forrester.

Intelligent content services, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and advanced analytics, is the top area of vendor innovation, although AI adoption is in early days according to the authors of The Forrester Wave: ECM Content Platforms, Q3 2019.

Global full-time information workers spend over 27% of their day creating, finding, or reading documents. Mature vendors are under pressure from newer cloud-native providers and are having to step up the pace of their own next-generation content platforms.

Competition, innovation, and the ongoing need to manage enterprise content create a large market opportunity. Forrester forecasts that ECM will be a global market worth $US10 billion in 2019, rising to $US11 billion in 2020.

Forrester assessed a range of ECM vendors in its report, including Microsoft, which it considers “strong across most foundational and collaborative content services and has improved its transactional content services, particularly in workflow and process automations.

“The vendor has enhanced historical feature gaps in advanced life-cycle management, such as event- or metadata-driven retention rules. Reference customers like the pace and cadence of feature delivery in the cloud edition. However, capture and scanning are weaknesses, as the vendor relies on third parties. Customers report dissatisfaction with search, including usability, large-scale eDiscovery queries, and configuration flexibility.”

Forrester also regards Micro Focus’ Content Manager as strong in retention management but lacking other key content services.

“Content Manager is rich in its retention management capabilities — records management, legal holds, and disposition policies — and can extend its life-cycle management and sensitive data detection features to non-Micro Focus repositories. It’s not well suited for companies looking to design and deliver a broad set of content-rich applications on a modern content platform. Product gaps are apparent in workflow/process automation outside of compliance use cases and in collaboration capabilities where many clients use third-party tools such as Microsoft SharePoint as a collaborative platform,” the report concludes.

Forrester recommends that buyers of ECM content platforms should look for vendors that:

  • Enable information worker productivity with collaborative content services. Key capabilities include flexible user interfaces, document management, team collaboration, and secure file sharing — inside and outside of the enterprise. Look for packaged integrations for major office productivity suites as well as common enterprise applications, allowing users to find and consume content in their preferred interface.
  • Deliver high-volume automations with transactional content services. Structured processes support high-volume activities, such as accounts payable or claims processing, where the goal is automation and reduced human intervention. Transactional content includes scanned documents or print streams generated from back-office applications. Many companies mine these customer interactions to find patterns and trends to help predict how these customers might behave in the future. Key capabilities include multichannel capture, e-forms, and digital process automation.
  • Provide repository, integration, and federation services. Core library services such as version and access controls, life-cycle management, metadata, and search continue to be essential capabilities, particularly for regulated or confidential documents. APIs and SDKs, as well as design and developer tools to build custom apps, are rising in demand. Federation capabilities to retrieve, search, or govern content in other applications or content stores is an area of vendor differentiation.
  • Extract insights and automate categorization with intelligent content services. Vendors are rushing to build, license, or acquire algorithms to enrich documents with metadata, to  automate the application of policies or retention schedules, to translate or transform documents and rich media into understandable text. Cloud vendors have an additional edge, with ML services to mine users’ activities and underlying graph to improve recommendations and optimize document retrieval.