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In Focus: Web Content Management as ECM Accessory

From Hummingbird's acquisition of Red Dot to FileNet's new version of Web Content Manager, it appears WCM is back in vogue again. So what gives?

ECM vendors snapped up plenty of Web content management vendors in the years of consolidation between 2001 and 2004, but the focus on WCM waned as dot-coms fizzled and compliance initiatives sizzled. It now appears WCM is back in vogue again. It started with Hummingbird's late-June purchase of Red Dot. Then last week, FileNet--a company that never talks about Web content management--announced version 3.0 of its Web Content Manager. Low and behold, I've also had calls from Open Text offering up interviews with customers deploying WCM.

So what gives? Is it the fact that online advertising and e-commerce initiatives are back? Is it the prospect of capturing fast growth in the mid-market--the rationale Hummingbird cited for its Red Dot deal? Is it a defensive move in response to Microsoft's recent signal that it will consolidate the SharePoint Portal and Microsoft Content Manger products? I suspect it's all of the above, plus a healthy slice of pressure from Wall Street to fuel growth through new license revenue as well as services income.

FileNet picked up WCM vendor eGrail back in 2002, but subsequent company references to WCM were nearly as elusive as the Holy Grail--until last week, that is. WCM 3.0 lets non-technical users design, create, review, manage and publish Web content. The software gives Webmasters tools to administer multiple sites, and it also supports content reuse across sites. The upgrade better leverages P8 business process management capabilities for improved content workflow and process integration as well as supports clustering for improved scalability.

Open Text gets the crown for WCM consolidation, bringing together systems from Gauss, Ixos (which had acquired Obtree) and its own Livelink WCM system. What did the company plan to do with all that disparate software? The short answer, in the wake of the acquisitions, was "continue to support existing products and customers." But Open Text will clearly consolidate around the best front-end and back-end components (company executives couldn't be reached in time for comment).

WCM lost favor among several ECM players "in part because the seat license numbers (and recurring maintenance revenue) are smaller than in document management and compliance deals," says Tony Byrne, founder and principle analyst at CMSWatch. "Now I think there is a growing recognition that an ECM vendor that wants to be a strategic partner to a major customer--hopefully 'the' strategic partner--needs to have a good WCM story."

Byrne says EMC Documentum, FileNet, Open Text and Hummingbird "didn't come to the party with strong WCM modules, but all four of those companies are working fairly hard now to make up ground."

In contrast, ECM vendors Vignette, Interwoven and Stellent have stayed focused on WCM, as have (by definition) pure-plays including FatWire, Tridion, Serena and others.


a. Vendor Kudos and Shortcomings, Circa 2005

b. What to Look for in Web Content Management

c. In Focus: Survey Says... 'ECM's an Ideal, Not a Priority'

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