2010 Content Technology Predictions

With only a few weeks left in 2009, it's time for our team of CMS Watch analysts to reveal our 2010 predictions, where we make our best guesses as to what the Content Technology industry will hold for you in the new year. This is our fourth year in a row trying to read the future, and like most predictors, our track record is mixed. If you'd like to see how we've done, you can view past predictions here: 2009, 2008, and 2007.

On a whole, we think 2010 will be characterized by a movement by "back to the basics" among technology vendors. This includes a renewed focus on internal content technology applications as we describe in today's press release. While some of these changes may seem modest, oftentimes recessionary times are the catalysts for necessary changes to be made.

(One prediction we can guarantee is that 2010 will bring lots of new and exciting changes coming to CMS Watch, so keep watching this space!)

Without further ado, here are our 2010 Content Technology Predictions. Read the predictions below, or my colleague Alan can lead you through a video rendition:

1) Enterprise Content Management and Document Management will go their separate ways
ECM as a marketing and technical concept has great validity. But the idea of having a single overarching platform to manage all sources of content management only works well in those enterprises that follow a unified and services-oriented architectural approach to IT. Instead, most firms keep their focus on specific business processes such as accounts payable, customer acquisition, case and matter management, and so on. The need for similarly specific software solutions has not abated, and document management vendors fill this requirement well. The maturation of integration approaches (e.g., REST) and standards (e.g., CMIS) will help spur the development of these business applications, since they typically need to tap other enterprise systems. Therefore, in 2010 we will see more vendors returning to core document management and workflow requirements, and becoming bolder about their lack of interest in embracing broader ECM functionality (DAM, WCM, Collaboration, and so forth) -- at least not in an integrated platform.

2) Faceted search will pervade enterprise applications
Full-text search is of little value when trying to mine corporate document silos. Most firms continue to rely upon good electronic filing systems (information architecture). However, most don't correctly file business documents, and become over reliant on search engines to magically sort and find chaotic information piles. In this environment, faceted search (logically chunking large search result sets) will enjoy a revival, sparked in large measure by the growing adoption of Lucene Solr by other software vendors.

3) Digital Asset Management vendors will focus on SharePoint integration over geographic expansion
Most if not all DAM vendors will debut a SharePoint "connector". ADAM was first, Open Text followed, more will come. We will see continued adoption / use of SharePoint as a front-end to DAM. At the same time, DAM vendors will struggle to meet the proliferating demand for DAM technology in Europe. Some DAM vendors are already declining to respond to RFPs because they know they can't support clients on the continent.

4) Mobile will come of age for Document Management and Enterprise Search
Does your ECM package come with its own mobile app store? In 2010, it might. Smarter phones, more bandwidth, and an increasingly mobile workplace will push the traditionally more staid document management and search vendors to develop richer mobile interfaces. Meanwhile, major enterprises (and vendors) will need to adapt their search and information access strategies in the face of mobile application search, with a new emphasis on precision over recall, and a fresh look at faceted results (see #2, above).

5) WCM vendors will give more love to Intranets
Intranet managers have had to take on greater responsibilities in the past year, especially for internal collaboration and community services. But they frequently tell us that their Web CMS vendors have turned their attentions slavishly to the needs of public website marketers. Amid a crowded market for e-marketing-oriented WCM solutions, in 2010 some opportunistic WCM vendors will renew their focus on the specific needs of Intranet scenarios.

6) Enterprises will lead thick client backlash
Some content technology vendors are rolling out thick clients at a time when IT has not forgotten the headaches around user provisioning, security, and version control they experienced when Java applet technology was all the rage. In particular Adobe Flex -- as a content-app development and deployment framework -- will fail to reach critical acceptance. To be sure, Flex can work well for some one-dimensional applications, like Twitter clients.  Yet, the negatives around Flex are various and sundry, ranging from its unfamiliarity and the difficulty of finding Flex-capable developers who have enterprise software experience, to unresolved issues around memory management and performance. It won't take CMS vendors long to figure out that Flex is no substitute for AJAX and especially HTML 5. Similarly, DAM vendors that continue to support a rich / desktop client (Extensis, Canto) will finally abandon it for web-based interfaces.

7) Cloud alternatives will become pervasive
A majority of the 200+ content technology vendors we cover will come out with optional, cloud-based storage, archiving, and processing services. Big candidates for processing services are episodic but server-intensive tasks like publishing, indexing, and transcoding. And before year's-end we will see the first wave of backlash as well, as vendors unfamiliar with running (or brokering) such services stumble noticeably in early attempts, and customers become more savvy about security, SLAs, network performance, and other vital considerations. This will slow, but not halt, the rise of cloud-based supplemental services across nearly all the technologies we cover.

8) Document Services will become an integrated part of ECM
Document Services (Document Composition, Document Output Management) will attract increased attention from vendors as well as customers. Most of these technologies are not new (and indeed, some, like COLD, are quite old). But enterprises will discover huge potential of verticalized applications by integrating document services into existing ECM systems. Examples include electronic billing, statement/policy generation, and presentation. Many vendors already have some offerings here and we will start seeing better integrated solutions in 2010.

9) Gadgets and Widgets will sweep the Portal world
Lightweight technologies like Gadgets and Widgets have become increasingly popular on the public web. In 2010, enterprises will more intently use them to build tactical solutions ("quick wins") and then slowly migrate to more strategic options. So portal vendors will not only support these frameworks but also will start providing a roadmap for moving from Gadgets to Portlets, and vice-versa.

10) Records Managers face renewed resistance
There is a fight already brewing between records managers and business managers, but in 2010 the battle will join in earnest. Throughout much of the past decade, records managers succeeded in getting more executive attention in the wake of scandals and stiffer legal/regulatory requirements. Today, though, the RM profession is perceived as being behind the times and focused on paper documents; sadly there is some truth to this. At a time when enterprises have fallen behind the curve in dealing with e-mail as a primary source of records, the potential for Cloud Computing and new viral collaborative technologies raise further questions about the RM profession's ability to adapt and deal with changing times. As a result the movement for simple retention rather than detailed RM practices will continue to gain ground.

11) Internal and external social and collaboration technologies will diverge
Many collaboration and social networking vendors are struggling to support internal ("behind the firewall") and external community scenarios off the same codebase. In 2010, most will give up the struggle and acknowledge that these business scenarios have fundamentally diverged. We will see more separate offerings from the same vendor, with increasingly different user experiences, security models, performance goals, and so on. At the same time, vendors will add and promote integration hooks as more customers seek to "move" discussions and collaboration across enterprise boundaries.

12) Multi-lingual requirements will rise to the fore
Many firms are now recognizing the need to localize applications and content across cultural and geographic boundaries. Though the technology has been around for while to enable this, a mindset shift is propelling this requirement forward. For some firms it is the perceived or actual threat of competition from countries such and India and China. For others it is the recognition that employees and partners operate more effectively in their native language rather than using English as a second language. For others it is the potential to sell outside of saturated English-language market. Many collaboration and social computing vendors in particular will get caught flat-footed in their assumption that application interfaces need only support English.

For more information about CMS Watch's research in these technology areas, please contact us at info@realstorygroup.com or download free samples of our research here.

Our customers say...

"The analysis of the current technology vendors and products is very comprehensive and it provides an excellent guide for potential purchasers to frame their functional, architectural and usability benchmarks."

Len Asprey, Director, Practical Information Management Solutions, and, Author, <i>Integrative Document and Content Management</i>

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