Nor in fact are enterprise content management or document management. These are all still technologies with viable use cases and value propositions. But these are also strategies. When Michael Woodbridge announced The Death of ECM and the Birth of Content Services in 2017, it was the strategy of enterprise content management that we proclaimed dead. Now we are evolving our Content Services Platform research. The first part of that is transitioning the CSP Magic quadrant to a to Market Guide.
At the time, research from Michael, Hanns Koehler-Kruener and Karen Hobert showed that end users had not able to achieve the vision of “one repository to rule them all.” Requirements for the business unit were not weighed against the broader enterprise needs. Organizations had anywhere from eight to thirty different repositories. Business users were growing impatient bringing about “shadow IT.” The team saw a change toward coexistence and that was content services, broken into content services platforms (CSP), content services applications (CSA), and content services components (CSC).
Over the last five years, we’ve seen minimal evolution in content services platforms. While there are more integrations with line of business solutions, we are not seeing significant new innovations nor functionality. And cloud office suites bring a baseline content services platforms to most organizations. It is hard to separate what’s functionally unique between one platform and another.
Meanwhile, the content services application space has exploded. Traditional document management use cases, once custom solutions, are now solved by out-of-the-box applications. Months, sometimes years of custom development has been replaced by weeks of configuration. Business documents such as contracts, invoices, and employee documents all have unique solutions. They are not content but addressing the business users needs of those documents. But they bring with them challenges to IT as they often lack enterprise requirements like information governance. Gartner covers seventeen content services application markets with Magic Quadrants or Market Guides
Still a platform or an application may need a special set of skills and that’s where content services components fit in. Components fill the gaps which platforms and applications do not. While CSPs and CSAs provide workflow, organizations still look to low code application platforms for more complex scenarios. Records management is a requirement for all business content, with CSP and CSA sprawl the problem only gets more complex. Gartner covers fourteen content services components with Magic Quadrants or Market Guides.
The evolution of our research on content services to a Market Guide is not saying content services platforms are dead. They are indeed not. Content services platforms are part of the story to solving business document requirements. Organizations are not asking about features, like version control and Word integrations. They are asking about managing standard operating procedures or storing invoices as records. What our clients want to know is, “should I choose this platform or this application?” To answer that requires a broader set of research on topics such as ACME, content flow, and new work hubs.
The last five years have shown us, the need for content services is not going away but it does seem to be getting more complex. You just need to step back and look at the broader picture. You will see there are many solutions out there.