Too Many Vendors Or Not Enough Innovation?Too Many Vendors Or Not Enough Innovation?
One of our contacts in the PR world sent over some thoughts after reading our continuing discussion about <a href="http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2008/04/5_more_reasons.html">why content management companies fail</a>. His remarks might not be terribly surprising for those of you that live and breathe content management, but they warrant a re-visit. </p>
May 2, 2008
One of our contacts in the PR world sent over some thoughts after reading our continuing discussion about why content management companies fail. His remarks might not be terribly surprising for those of you that live and breathe content management, but they warrant a re-visit.
He got me thinking about an often-overlooked characteristic of the content management sector: the sheer saturation of vendors and solutions.
As he put it, "I think, from even just a pure economic perspective, the No. 1 reason a content management company will go out of business is because there's not enough room for all of them."
And why is that? Is it because of our propensity to view any company that touches content or manages data as a content management vendor? Or is it a classic case of the vendors' desires to be all things to all people? It's really a combination of both. It's just too easy to pass up a sales opportunity for companies that he says are "just trying to stay afloat."
That brings up the notion of innovation. If content management companies are just keeping their heads up above water, how can they think freely about what the next customer needs? And throw in the fact that the space has several publicly traded pure-plays along with what he described as the big dogs (Microsoft, IBM, EMC) and you have a sector on a quest for real differentiation.
The publicist to the CM stars also mentioned how tough it is to predict a long-term view of the industry, citing things like open source, SharePoint, and consolidation as potential speed bumps to growth and innovation. Open source has to be the one that looms the largest. As Alfresco's co-founder told me this week, "Open source is the only distribution model that can compete with Microsoft's distribution model."
Perhaps some of the CM vendors should take a page from the less-entrenched software companies building the knowledge worker apps of tomorrow. It's not just R&D tunnel vision and loads of cash that allow companies like Alfresco, Jive, and MindTouch to do what they do. It has more to do with taking a fresh look at your market and how you need to serve your customers. You see, Jen in Finance doesn't want another big repository that she has to search. She doesn't want to cut and paste content from different applications. She wants to mashup up her own content and she wants it to live and breathe in her own workspace.
I liked the way Jive's Sam Lawrence attacked the innovation thread earlier this week. He sent me his take on how enterprise software's heavyweights could eventually be overtaken by social software's up-and-comers.
This has obviously been debated ad nauseam, but the perfect storm of open source, cloud computing, and Web 2.0 certainly makes for interesting speculation.
The disruption he mentions already is being felt by CM vendors everywhere. When will it drive the innovation needed?
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