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The next disruption

November 3, 2010

For those of you who are regular readers of this blog, you know how interesting SharePoint’s disruption of the ECM market has been for me. But I’ll level with you all, I’m getting a little bored with how SharePoint-centric most ECM conversations are these days…

In that spirit, I want to do a bit of non-SharePoint prognosticating to think out loud about what the next big ECM disruption might be–after all, all good things must come to an end, so let’s cast our eyes into the murky future and take a gander at what might dethrone SharePoint as ECM’s It-girl.

Here are some of the likely suspects, along with my guess on the over/under that they’ll be the next big thing:

  • Cloud document management – Provides hosted DM functionality outside the firewall, from basic content creation, storage, and access, to sharing and collaboration workflow (e.g., or Google docs).
    • Verdict – Maybe for small businesses, but for medium- and large-sized firms, I just don’t see them letting their content go outside the firewall. And I don’t think this is a matter of “getting comfortable” with cloud DM–the risks a Global 2000 firm would have to assume to use in an enterprise way just seem too great to me for them ever to embrace this approach.
  • Social business software – A range of technologies that bring “Facebook to the enterprise” through capabilities like microblogging, internal and external user communities, expertise management, folksonomy, etc. (e.g., Jive, Drupal).
    • Verdict – In theory, I think SBS has a lot of potential to disrupt the ECM market. However, they face a serious threat from Microsoft, which, if it bolstered SharePoint’s SBS capabilities, could cross the “good enough” line and grab huge market share in this space. The deciding factor, to me, is whether a clear leader in the SBS market will emerge soon enough to get a foothold before Microsoft rolls out improved SBS functionality in SharePoint.
  • Content Management Interoperability Services – A “Content Domain Model [that] defines a way to abstract the structure of any content repository into a common framework” (8 Things You Need to Know About the CMIS Standard) allowing for easier repository-to-repository and application-to-repository integration irrespective of vendor or platform.
    • Verdict – This is the winner in my book, for a bunch of reasons. First, it makes federated content management a viable approach–we can finally let the dream of “one repository to rule them all” die. Second, it gives organizations wider latitude in building an ECM  application portfolio–they no longer have to choose between accepting a single vendor (with all the associated strengths and weaknesses in their particular ECM stack) or trying to wrangle a variety of ECM applications into an uneasy and often kludgy coexistence. Third, it will enable the development of mobile ECM applications for smart phones–need I say more?

So there you have it–what do you all think? Am I wildly off base on any of these? Are there significant contenders I’ve missed? Jump in and let’s get the conversation started…

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