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Information Management
Commentary

Microsoft, Big ECM and Big Pharma

This year's big Drug Information Association (DIA) conference in Atlanta concluded with something of a shock for enterprise content management (ECM) vendors. Microsoft SharePoint will now compete directly with established Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences-focused vendors EMC|Documentum and Open Text. Pharma was supposed to be sacred ground for the big ECM vendors -- one area of turf where few thought Microsoft would tread.
This year's big Drug Information Association (DIA) conference in Atlanta concluded with something of a shock for enterprise content management (ECM) vendors. Microsoft SharePoint will now compete directly with established Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences-focused vendors EMC|Documentum and Open Text. Pharma was supposed to be sacred ground for the big ECM vendors -- one area of turf where few thought Microsoft would tread.In fact, Microsoft comes to this party via two key partners: NextDocs (and their consulting partners at CSC) and First Consulting Group - both delivering applications for regulatory submissions built on SharePoint. It is of particular note that FCG was (and remains) a long term EMC|Documentum partner and brings a vast amount of industry expertise to the equation. So we are not looking at a couple of fresh-faced upstarts, but rather experienced veterans entering the market with a new, low-cost alternative.

In some regards this should not come as all that much of a surprise, particularly to those of us who consulted to the Life Sciences sector. Many enterprises in this sector are dedicated Documentum or Open Text customers, but few of them truly use the functionality to its full effect, and many have spent huge sums of money on licenses that remain unused. The sector has offered a longtime cash cow for ECM vendors, and I've seen first hand the low-priority assigned by vendors in return (such customers were considered "locked in," and managed via a few key contacts and the use of corporate hospitality)...a situation ripe for change.

For buyers in this sector, it gives a great opportunity to reassess your ECM investments. Examine what you really use, what you want, and what you have, then look at the marketplace afresh to see what measures up. If nothing else, the more credible Microsoft entrance into the market gives you considerable leverage over existing relationships -- an opportunity you should use to your advantage.

Alan Pelz-Sharpe is a principal analyst at CMS Watch. Write him at [email protected]This year's big Drug Information Association (DIA) conference in Atlanta concluded with something of a shock for enterprise content management (ECM) vendors. Microsoft SharePoint will now compete directly with established Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences-focused vendors EMC|Documentum and Open Text. Pharma was supposed to be sacred ground for the big ECM vendors -- one area of turf where few thought Microsoft would tread.