Gartner’s Magic Quadrants are still the go-to source of information when selecting new products and solutions. But many IT decision makers fall into the trap of focusing purely on the leaders’ quadrant. What should be the right approach?
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As an annual autumn tradition, Gartner published its Quadrant for Content Services Platforms – formerly known as Enterprise Content Management – at the end of October. At AMPLEXOR we are proud to have all our products recognized with positions in 3 different quadrants: Microsoft and OpenText figure as leaders, Alfresco has been a challenger for several years and Box is currently a visionary.
The power of the Magic Quadrant lies in its simplicity: vendors strive to stay away from the bottom left and move as close as possible to the top right. And we often notice the same reflex with potential buyers who – deliberately or not – tend to consider leader content platforms as the preferable choice. While these research comparisons might provide useful insights, when evaluating a new technology each buyer should consider the four following questions.
#1 - Do you need all those bells and whistles?
Most vendors end up in the leader quadrant because of the broadness of their content services platform. As one of my colleagues used to put it: “If you think you have a content management problem and it can’t be solved by these platforms, then you probably don’t have a content management problem”.
The leader technologies typically go beyond the core content repository functionality, also offering specific modules for data capture and ingestion, document generation, process automation and rapid application development.
The questions you should ask yourself here are: do I really need all those bells and whistles from a single platform? Does it fit my core functional requirements? Also take into account that many of these add-on modules were acquired through the years and integration is not always smooth.
So, being in the leader quadrant doesn’t necessarily mean better quality, but rather broader quantity of add-on modules with features which might not be your first concern.
#2 - Innovation and user experience at the core?
Platforms in the leader quadrant are rarely the newest-kids-on-the-block. Hyland, OpenText and IBM have been in the ECM market since the early nineties. Actually, only Microsoft managed to squeeze itself into the leader quadrant with a product, SharePoint, designed in the current millennium. This means all leaders can be considered the wise old men in the market.
But this ‘legacy’ of the leaders also comes at a cost. Challengers and visionaries were, for example, much faster with proper cloud offerings: for example, Box as a native cloud content platform or Alfresco on AWS. In many cases, the underlying architecture of leaders is heavier and less flexible than those in the other quadrants. Also, the newer platforms tend to experiment more with cutting-edge technology such as Artificial Intelligence and introduce innovations more easily.
#3 - Is your organization up to it?
Apart from a matching feature set and an innovation focus, a proper technology selection should also take into account your organization as a whole.
From a business perspective, consider your internal culture and digital maturity. Throw a visionary cloud-based social collaboration platform at an organization with primarily digital newbies and you’ll be in for a lot of change management massaging. Or vice versa: give your digital native millennials a traditional document management solution and they might just refuse to use it.
From an IT perspective, you should also consider that keeping an IBM content platform in the air is completely different from running a smaller-scale Alfresco solution. Even today, with more and more content platforms offered as cloud services, the complexity of the bigger leading platforms still requires considerably more IT expertise and resources than the smaller platforms.
#4 - What’s your local ‘ecosystem’?
Finally, consider your local ecosystem. The regional coverage of platforms in the Magic Quadrant is quite diverse. Some, such as Microsoft and OpenText, are truly global. But others currently have a smaller reach in practice. For example, Hyland has a clear main focus on the US, while Box has also been very successful in the US, but still has to establish a solid customer base in Europe.
Check what kind of representation the technologies have in your region and what kind of local escalation power is available. But also remember to consider if there is a flourishing community of local implementation partners. You don’t want to end up being the hostage of a single implementation partner, even if the technology itself seems perfect for your organization.
Take it for what it’s worth
So take Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for what it’s worth: a good first insight into who’s playing in the market. It clearly separates the big boys from the new kids, but should never be the bible for technology selection. As we have seen, even the highest regarded platform might not necessarily fit your business requirements.
With increasingly complex and growing landscape of technologies to choose from, it’s easy to focus on the wrong things. A multidisciplinary team with in-depth expertise in strategy design and technology implementation can help you narrow the list of platforms to consider, as well as help you find the most suitable technology to fit your business needs and budget.
About the author
Tom Laureys is Solution Manager ECM at AMPLEXOR based in Belgium. For the past 10 years, Tom has been helping clients across industries find the right technology to effectively digitize their business processes and improve collaboration and productivity. His combination of strategic thinking and expertise in a range of platforms - from Alfresco and Documentum to SharePoint and Office 365 – grant him the capacity to capture new trends on the market and turn them into solutions for our customers.