While exchanging with a well-recognized and successful industry expert about our differentiators and the market we are in. Since they popup frequently, I thought it might be interesting to publish the answer.
ECM is a mature and crowded market. Is there really room for anything more than a niche player at this late stage in the game?
At a macro-level, the enterprise content market is composed by 5 hegemonic vendors (OpenText, EMC, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft) and a set of minor ones (~15 notable), after a strong and fast consolidation of this market. Gartner says: 3 top vendors have 52% of the ECM market. The Triad of ECM?
As many vendors have skipped investment in technology aggregating software from their acquisitions (with the notable exception of Microsoft) much of the current batch of software has been designed 15 years ago and hasn’t evolved much. They have forgotten they are in engineering, not retail. In this world of lean, on-demand, instant-on, the major ECM payers still talk literally in days or weeks to install their software. It’s faster to setup a whole virtual datacenter processing and storing terabytes of data on the Amazon Cloud than setting up a vanilla ECM system!
On top of this technology breakdown, many of these acquisitions have been poorly integrated, to say the least (with a special mention to OpenText on this side). And the pace of the recent consolidation has created a disturbance in the market.
Those two combined dynamics enable new vendors with good technology and the right go-to-market approach to enter the ECM arena, tickle the incumbents and rise, and bring some fresh air and fun to this market.
Perspective shift from customers
We see important shifts in how customers evaluate and choose ECM platforms:
More and more Architects are actively involved in the choice of next-generation ECM platforms (not only business users / archive managers) and are putting it at the core of their information system. This sets high expectations in terms of software architecture, integration capabilities or flexibility and technology stack.
They need to update systems deployed in the ’00s because incumbent vendors are not supporting those versions anymore => the cost of upgrading is high and they are looking for alternatives. Often we can offer efficient and better replacement for those systems for a fraction of the price of the ongoing maintenance. Let alone the license fees…
Given the lack of technical investment and the legacy of major ECM platforms, implementation is complex and expensive => we can do better with today’s technology. Monolithic is no where near the state-of-the-art of software-and Architects care because it directly impacts their ability to make these ECM platforms meet the new business challenges.
Move fast, commoditize legacy, create value with the rest
I really believe that the market maturity combined with the legacy technologies of monolithic players is a key advantage for us: we are disrupting the market by commoditizing the technology (platform) and deriving value from this commoditization.
We target what hurts: the fat and comfortable maintenance stream. We target it with more flexible, up-to-date technology and a company organized to provide superior service for support & maintenance as our customers actually deploy and use our products. That’ll tickle!
So yes, I’m firmly convinced that there is a room for new players, like us. And timing seems just right for a big one. The market needs to evolve and renew, in the best interest of customers. And they well deserve it, given the challenges of the knowledge era that just starts…
That’s going to be a tough ride. But… feels fun too!