Gartner recently released their 2017 analysis of content service platforms. () In 2016, Gartner changed from evaluating Enterprise Content Management to a renamed approach focused on Content Service Platforms. Since the beginning of the ECM ratings over 20 years ago, FileNet combined with IBM has always been recognized as a leader claiming the highest position both in terms of completeness of vision and ability to execute in 2016. This year’s 2017 rating dropped FileNet – IBM from Leader to Challenger.
2015 – 2016 Gartner Recap
From 2015 to 2016, Gartner radically changed their evaluation as many products moved from different quadrants. At the time, we posted that we thought the evaluation was written in a biased way promoting IBM as well as OpenText due to a focus on analytics.
In reviewing the ratings, we struggled with how Gartner changed the evaluation rules between 2015 and 2016. Specifically for 2016:
This Magic Quadrant reflects that evolution by identifying eight essential functional components that characterize an ECM product. The 2015 Magic Quadrant on this topic identified seven such components, including the now-removed web content management component (now an extended capability). This year, we have added two new components: analytics/BI, and packaged apps and integration.
With web content management (formerly only 5%), the eight points in 2016 included:
- Document management (20%, unchanged from 2015)
- Records management (10%, unchanged from 2015)
- Image-processing applications (10%, down from 15% in 2015)
- Social content/collaboration (15%, unchanged from 2015)
- Content workflow (15%, down from 20% in 2015)
- Packaged apps and integration (5%, new for 2016 – removed in 2017)
- Analytics/BI (5%, new for 2016 – removed in 2017)
- Extended components (20%, up from 15% in 2015)
At the time, we thought that the addition of Analytics/BI as well as packaged apps and integration was biasing the review to the bigger vendors and specifically IBM. While Gartner didn’t share specific percentages in 2017, in 2016 we thought (and now can confirm) that BI/Analytics in regards to content services was suffering from the classic technology hype cycle – something that even Gartner confirms and has now removed Analytics/BI from the evaluation criteria.
As readers know, we have been seeing more FileNet migrations over the last two years (see our case study on migrating from FileNet in six weeks). In talking with our customers, they still seem very confused when talking to IBM regarding their FileNet support. From our understanding, IBM is very much pushing Watson as the panacea for everything.
2016 to 2017 Differences
What makes the movement of IBM – FileNet even more significant is that the assigned Gartner analysts didn’t change with the exception of adding one new analyst to join the three from 2016 to produce the 2017 rating.
In 2016, Gartner presented the following cautions on IBM
- The breadth of IBM’s portfolio adds complexity, impacts customer infrastructure, cost, time and resource requirements. Purchasers should consider the full cost of implementation when negotiating with IBM.
- Reference customer surveys indicate a need for modernized user experiences with mobile capabilities, probably because some customers are using older versions of the Content Navigator mobile client. IBM customers should deploy IBM’s latest client tools for the most up-to-date and integrated experiences.
- Buyers of IBM solutions can be confused by the different Watson options, as it can be difficult to understand which options support ECM use cases. Customers should be careful to choose a Watson product that will integrate with their ECM tools.
In our review of the 2016 cautions on IBM, we were struck with how the “cautions” for IBM were almost backhanded compliments for the size of the IBM portfolio, upgrading to IBM’s latest mobile tools and Watson.
For 2017, the cautions on IBM were much more specific and stinging:
- IBM has not moved as quickly as some competitors to embrace the public cloud. IBM and its partners host IBM content applications on managed private cloud deployments. Customers and prospects looking for public cloud services may find that the vendor’s public cloud offerings will not meet their requirements for some services.
- Changes in top management and key content services personnel in recent years have had a negative impact on IBM’s content services product development and strategy.
- Some reference customers, especially midsize companies, expressed frustration over the cost of deploying and maintaining IBM Content Foundation and IBM Case Manager on-premises.
In comparing 2016 to 2017, clearly Gartner must have received strong feedback from IBM customers with serious concern about the content services offerings.
Consistent with our thoughts from last year, we agree that IBM’s push of their own cloud infrastructure rather than partnering with Amazon, Microsoft or Google would restrict their ability to play in the Infrastructure as a Service public cloud environment. Last year in reviewing public cloud for IBM and Documentum/OpenText Gartner thought:
- IBM – has their own (SoftLayer) – from Gartner “SoftLayer has limited differentiation beyond the hybrid blending of virtualized and bare-metal capabilities, and a broader geographic presence. Other than an early 2015 introduction of new storage options, SoftLayer’s feature set has not improved significantly since the IBM acquisition in mid-2013.”
- Documentum/OpenText – was pushing the VMware solution when part of EMC – was described by Gartner “vCloud Air has limited appeal to the business managers and application development leaders who are typically the key decision makers for cloud IaaS sourcing. VMware administrators in IT operations are the most likely champions of vCloud Air within a business, but they often prefer to build internal solutions, and they are also often the people that the business is trying to bypass by going to cloud IaaS.” Now part of OpenText, what will be the solution be?
With all of the above, the desire to extend the IBM or OpenText private cloud to the customer hampers both vendors ability to work with (or support) the market leaders (either Amazon or Microsoft). When vendors tune their products for specific environments (as OpenText is proposing with their own intgration), it limits their ability and focus on the industry leaders. We would, based on their ability to work with the leaders in the space as:
- Amazon – Alfresco is the Content Services leader here – even mentioned in this year’s Gartner analysis – “Alfresco has taken steps to enhance its technology partnerships to advance differentiation and innovation, such as being the first content services provider on Amazon to be able to launch an Alfresco instance with an Amazon Web Services Quick Start button”
- Microsoft/Azure – Would expect Microsoft to the be leader here – from Gartner – “Microsoft is a global cloud data center provider that can provision Office 365, which encompasses SharePoint Online and its collective services worldwide.”
Back in 2015 we surmised that “Is (the Gartner magic quadrant) really magic anymore?”. While we never have really agreed with the somewhat arbitrary placement of vendors and a focus on bigger is better, we did think the specific strengths and cautions were worth discussing. This year’s 2017 magic quadrant movement of IBM – FileNet from Leader to Challenger after 20+ years and a very high rating in 2016 was surprising.
Specific points raised by Gartner about IBM’s lack of support for public cloud vendors and changes in top management should be a concern for existing customers. For the last couple of years including last year’s review of the 2016 Gartner Magic Quadrant, we have strongly stated that we thought public cloud vendors and specifically Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure would have the biggest impact on the ECM/Content Services Platform space going forward and that IBM (like OpenText and Documentum) would have difficulties given their focus on their own cloud solutions. As we surmised back in August, we do think there is a possibility that IBM might sell of FileNet given their focus on consulting and Watson. While there might be lots of heated debate on Linked-In from some die-hard FileNet resources, it doesn’t change that Gartner has raised some significant concern about IBM – FileNet that customers should consider.
Let us know your thoughts below.