Is SAP slowly moving into the ECM space? It's a question that has been asked so many times over the years that it has become something of a "chestnut," as we say in England. For if you are ever at a loss as to what to chat about with people in the ECM industry, SAP is a surefire conversation starter.
SAP was (allegedly) going to buy Open Text on many occasions, but as of today still have not. They were (allegedly) shocked when Open Text bought iXos ( a firm that focused almost exclusively on providing content and archiving software for SAP), but did nothing about it. They were (allegedly) going to buy German vendor Saperion, but didn't. Once Oracle moved in to the ECM space with their acquisition of Stellent, fine ECM minds asserted that SAP would be forced to respond, but they didn't.
But now SAP does appear to be doing something: they are considering buying a 15% stake in Indian ECM vendor NewGen. Could this be a prelude to a full acquisition? Well it could be and it wouldn't be a bad choice, though it may take Euro- and US-centric observers by surprise. At CMS Watch we always try to take a very global view of things and have been following NewGen since the birth of the ECM Suites Report. It's a product that would potentially be a good fit for SAP -- and one that could likely compete well against the likes of IBM and Oracle with the marketing and sales push that SAP could give it.
But who knows...a 15% stake sounds a lot, but to SAP 15% of NewGen is small change. (SAP's venture arm has also invested in search vendor Endeca and open source ECM supplier Alfresco.) What we do know is that it keeps the rumor mill busy - and reminds us that from the outside SAP may appear to doing nothing in the ECM space, but they clearly are aware of ECM, and they probably do have plans for the future, even if they haven't shared them yet.
As a buyer of an ECM system to handle content and archiving loads from SAP, it's not as if you are short of options; almost every major ECM vendor can provide relatively out of the box integrations with SAP, and some even have dedicated groups to support such integrations. So an entry by SAP into the ECM market will likely not present a sea change for buyers, but it will certainly be interesting fodder for industry observers.