November 01, 2012 - 12:00 PM
I attended the Gartner ITxpo in Orlando last week. It was billed as the world’s most important gathering of CIO’s. At the event, I attended the roll-out of the latest Magic Quadrant for ECM. Generally, the positioning in the Leader’s Quadrant had not changed in the last two years. IBM, Oracle and Microsoft are still neck and neck for the lead, with EMC, Open Text and Hyland Software among the Leaders but clearly trailing the big three. In the briefing, the Gartner analyst asked, “How many people are using SharePoint?” My estimate is that 80% of the people raised their hands. The Gartner analyst said that 75% of the ECM questions from Gartner clients involve SharePoint.
I visited the vendor exhibit area. The Microsoft booth was entirely focused on Windows 8 and the Surface, although all of the tablets I saw were from Microsoft partners. This was reasonable as it was Microsoft’s Windows 8 Launch week. There were a couple of SharePoint implementation/services partners there and several vendors who make significant claims that they embrace and extend SharePoint to enable records management or work flow or archival.
What was not discussed by any vendors or Gartner was whether SharePoint, either 2010 or 2013, either in Office 365 or on premise was enough for enterprise ECM or RM. If not, is it enough for some organizations, and which ones are they? What about the add-ons from the SharePoint ecosystem? Do these bridge the gap and enable SharePoint as an Enterprise ECM solution? These were the questions that I thought were on the minds of the overflowing audience in the Magic Quadrant for ECM briefing. Gartner has too many vendor clients who depend on the message from Gartner analysts to prospects that SharePoint, even with its vast ecosystem of partners, isn’t good enough as a solo repository for enterprise ECM to directly answer this question. So, their answer is a cagey, “it depends”. We had several deals in 2012 that we thought went away from SharePoint for ECM because Gartner recommended vendors X or Y. Gartner represented that SharePoint was not enough for Accounts Payable ECM or Enterprise Records Management or another use case. This implies that a better answer than SharePoint is a separate repository based on monolithic ECM suites that can be integrated with custom code or simple connectors. What we have seen is that these solutions frequently aren't as cost effective, efficient or as well liked by users as Microsoft ISV solutions built on SharePoint.
In 2012, we saw several Fortune 200 companies switch from legacy ECM Suites to SharePoint, with more planning for the migration in 2013. The SharePoint ecosystem is replacing the ECM Suites with best of breed components to extend SharePoint for work flow, or capture, or records management, or report management in many organizations. The SharePoint ecosystem isn’t for everyone, and certainly doesn’t have the “one throat to choke” mindset that the ECM Suite vendors built their suite businesses around, but we have seen that it works and scales to the enterprise cost effectively. A modern assessment of ECM and RM solutions should include the analysis of Microsoft ISVs that make up the SharePoint ecosystem. I would really like to see an analysis that includes this ecosystem instead of an update on the ECM ecosystem from the early 2000’s as it continues to exist today. I believe this would better reflect the ECM choices that large organizations are making.
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