2006 convergence and consolidation in the ECM market undoubtedly validated “the infrastructure players are moving in” expectations — in a big way. Press and analysis on IBM’s FileNet acquisition as well as Oracle’s Stellent acquisition is still ongoing. Not to be discounted, OpenText’s summer coup over Symphony in winning Hummingbird validates that pure-play ECM suite vendors will not simply fade away anytime soon. IMO, neither will many of the pure-play WCM, RM or DAM vendors, several of which are shrewdly riding the crest of SaaS.
And never to be discounted is Microsoft, whose vision for MOSS 2007 is to be “as pervasive as the Office suite.” The company is certainly turning up the volume in terms of positioning business intelligence/process management, content management and collaboration as synonymous.

So, is this “technology trio” 100% new and innovative? Well…not for customers of FileNet, whose BPM capabilities were more than likely the crown jewel for IBM’s successful pursuit. And not for customers of Adobe’s LiveCycle products, who benefited from a major product line upgrade in September along with the release of Acrobat 8. And not for customers of EMC’s Documentum Process Suite, who take advantage of “the automation of high-volume transactional processes and complex collaborative processes” according to product descriptions. And certainly not if you have been following our ECM-BPM intersection discussions.

Will ECM convergence and consolidation raise the market awareness and visibility of content-centric BPM?

More than likely. However, the ECM market certainly can’t take all the credit. Let’s not forget the achievements of BPM suite vendors in 2006, who continue in their efforts to bridge the divide between data-driven versus content-driven business process management. This is a tall order, given the need to overcome the holy grail of all “divides” — IT versus the business — especially given “do not cross” domains for skill sets such as process modeling.

Still, vendors such as Appian, Savvion, Intalio, and others tout ease of use and graphical process modelers targeted to business users. Vendors such as BEA (via the Fuego acquisition,) Lombardi, Ultimus, and Pegasystems stress support for interactive workflows, business-driven usability, and provide direct integration with selected ECM solutions (including Sharepoint.) Vendors such as Global360 provide baseline document and records management capabilities, but shy away from describing them as ECM capabilities. And most if not all BPM suite vendors provide case management support such as attaching and keeping track of documents for vertical-specific processes that require it.

Consider these examples as a sign of deeper capabilities and integrations to come or even more interesting — markets that merge in 2007.

Side note: examples are simply that, and not an exhaustive list. Feel free to comment or even better, we invite CTOs from any type of organization to weigh in on this and other subjects on our CTO Blog. Send an email to ctoblog@gilbane.com if you’d like to start contributing!