Recently I fulfilled a lifelong ambition to be an actor (minor parts - small films) and I finally came to understand the meaning of the thespian question, "What is my motivation?"
It is an important question that we probably don't ask enough, and buyers might want to ask the same of ECM (Enterprise Content Management) suppliers. Yes, seriously...
Take for example EMC Documentum. Their motivation is driving their storage and cloud business. On the other hand Oracle with its newly named WebCenter Content product wants to drive its database and business application businesses. And IBM FileNet is focused on complex business process management and the associated consulting and support services.
Cliché maybe, and certainly I am oversimplifying here, but you don't have to scratch far below the surface to know that I am in principal correct. They may all be ECM players at the high end of the market, but what got them there and keeps them there is different in each case.
Each time I return to researching for our product evaluations and advisory services (currently focused on Search, ECM, and Cloud File Shares) I initially think "They all look the same as one another!" And from a distance they do. They have been designed to do the same job as one another, and to sell in the same markets. Marketing and messaging staff move between one similar supplier to another, and in time it can be hard to hear clearly through the noise.
But once you get your finger on what really drives each firm the differences start to reveal themselves. Full-blown ECM systems are complex and are typically made up of many interlocking modules, so identifying the differences in approach and their strengths and weaknesses, as we do in our product evaluations can take a lot of work. But even seemingly simple services such as Cloud-based file sharing systems like Huddle, Box.Net, and Dropbox have more differences, flat contradictions, and individual DNA than a casual glance might suggest. Buyers who would take plenty of time to understand the nuts, bolts, and DNA of an ECM system are well advised to do the same when considering seemingly low cost, low stress Cloud services. Otherwise you could be in for some nasty surprises.