Application Platform consolidation in ECM is real

The market of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) has historically been misunderstood as many vendors, analysts and customers had their own interpretations of what ECM constitutes.  In my opinion, it includes document and web content management that needs to be put through a work flow in order to publish, with up front capturing / scanning and back office archival and storage.  Throughout its lifecycle, content needs to be available for search, to integrate with business process and downstream analysis of its use for making better business decisions.  ECM also includes delivery of this content in a user–friendly fashion via portals or other rich internet application channels.  At every step it has to carry the content intelligence (meta data) as it traverses through its life and gets consumed by various persona (humans or systems).  Supporting all this with a secure, scalable and flexible architecture is of utmost importance.

Traditionally organizations used a lot of different tools (home grown or from vendors) to satisfy their ECM needs.  While the solutions were an answer for an immediate problem, this caused several challenges related to integration problems and losing the content intelligence in the process.  In recent days, I’ve personally seen many customers inclined to consolidate the various tools in their entire ECM value chain to reduce complexity and improve decision making capabilities,  by persisting with the content intelligence.

This consolidation is also being compounded by the M&A activity happening among many ECM vendors.  Most of these vendors are going back to the customers and asking / helping them to move to a more homogenized platform to meet their end-to-end ECM needs.  This thought process is resulting in several trends in the market place such as consolidation, convergence with BPM and Analytics tools as well as many customers are taking back a step and reviewing how social media / Enterprise 2.0 needs to be factored into their ECM roadmap.

My prediction is that customers won’t be jumping on platform consolidation just for the sake of it, but will take this opportunity to review their current and future needs and map that to the vendor landscape.  This opens up an opportunity for strategy reviews, tools selections and related development / implementation related work.

I’m interested in your thoughts on this.  Are you seeing a similar trend?  If so, how are organizations embracing consolidation-related challenges?