Finding the "Right" ECM Solution

Check out new functionality in enterprise content management tools, Forrester advises

Check out new functionality in enterprise content management tools, Forrester advises

Cambridge, MA  September 18, 2003  With nearly a third of North American companies looking to purchase content management solutions in 2003, these buyers should focus on the new functionality that the technology providers currently are rolling out, according to a recent report from technology consultancy Forrester Research.

Forrester found in a study earlier this year that 32 percent of North American firms were planning enterprise content management (ECM) purchases during 2003.

That's not surprising considering that a separate Forrester study revealed that more than four in 10 enterprises currently are managing more than six unstructured content repositories company-wide  and a quarter are contending with more than 15 repositories.

At the same time, in a research note entitled "Will You Choose the Right Content Management Product?", Nicholas Wilkoff, a senior analyst at Forrester, along with co-authors Joshua Walker and Tamara Mendelsohn, reported that only 24 percent of enterprises ranked "repository integration" as among their most pressing content management needs.

Document management and Web content management, on the other hand, were cited as top priorities by about half of companies. About one-third of companies are looking to use content management tools to support an enterprise portal, while 27 percent listed "collaboration" as being among their most pressing needs.

The Forrester analysts wrote that they are currently re-evaluating content management vendors based on updated criteria, but they noted that, "the strategies and capabilities of ECM vendors continue to rapidly evolve."

They advised ECM buyers to focus on platform consistency, including "consistent and unified repositories, workflow engines, interfaces, and [operating system] and app server support"  particularly when reviewing solutions from vendors that have grown their solution footprint through numerous acquisitions.

In addition, with many buyers looking for collaboration features to support document sharing and workflow, Forrester recommended looking for features such as "ad hoc workflows, project/team rooms, and storage of collaborative content types like discussion threads."

Finally, the analysts suggested that companies establishing enterprise portals ensure that their content management solution will be able to publish content to the portals and provide other forms of support for the portal.

The Forrester report offers additional guidance on trends in customer requirements for ECM products and a look at the vendor viability issue in this space.