The ‘World’ just got more complicated (again)

I am not sure if this has been happening more often than once in the past (haven’t checked older versions of the graphic), but since last year, the Real Story Group has added complexity to their content technology vendor subway map. Not only are more vendors covered (though SAPERION still seems to be the only German ECM vendor – at least at a quick glance), no, new lines have been built (SharePoint Add-ons), and others have been re(de)fined.

Two thoughts strike me about this image – one is dealing with the overall market, the other is, well, somewhat related to the presentational choice itself. First, in opposition to many other analysts, this map seems to imply that there is no market consolidation. While I am not in a position to discuss either result (due to the lack of substantial empirical evidence available to me), this feels about right. In fact, my general perception of the market is: it is becoming more and more crowded. Why is that so? Because the market is growing – not necessarily because there’s more money to be spent (which, in fact, other analysts seem to believe), but because the definition of content-related business is in flux. While 10 years ago, we had document management, records management, and long-term preservation (archiving) in the mainstream, we now have all sorts of things more or less loosely coupled, many of which are covered by scary three-letter acronyms. Second, ECM, WCM, DAM, ELM (you name it) and thus all related “markets”, are still not mainstream; at least not as in ‘ERP’. While SharePoint has managed to bring information management back into focus, many businesses still don’t understand that information management as a corporate strategy needs to be applied to all business activities instead of just islands. There seems to be a similar subliminal message connected to the image based on the fact that it is a subway map: this industry still needs to figure out its way into the light. Thus, while there’s merit in visualizing the vendor landscape, I’d rather prefer a different type of graph.

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