If you’re like most organizations, you’re probably using Microsoft SharePoint. This isn’t all that surprising, given that SharePoint is integrated with the productivity tools that many organizations use to create content (Microsoft Office and Office 365), and that it provides some very convenient capabilities for storing, syncing, and sharing those files. As a first step, SharePoint is an easy choice.
To be clear, when we talk about “files,” or “content,” we’re really talking about unstructured data — which may take the form of documents, presentations, spreadsheets, email and text messages, notes, images, audio, video, and so on. This kind of content plays a fundamental, foundational role in supporting enterprise initiatives for collaboration between individuals, integration of business processes and workflows, innovation in products and services, growth in revenue and earnings, and efficiency of operations.
To gain some insights into the kind of solutions companies are using to manage their content, a look at the installations related to content management that are visible in the Aberdeen Group Computer Intelligence Technology Data Set (CiTDS) confirmed that SharePoint represented about 80% of all installations. In this case, we’re talking about a snapshot of more than 36,500 technology installations related to content management – across nearly 25,000 organizations – with the information pertaining to all of these installations confirmed by Aberdeen’s Market Intelligence business unit in 2013, 2014, or 2015.
At the same time, an analysis of the Aberdeen CiTDS data helps to show that as the needs of organizations grow more complex, the basic capabilities of simply storing, syncing, and sharing files are no longer enough.
A closer look at these 36,500 installations shows that as the environment grows more complex — and as they seek to extract more business value from their enterprise content than basic file sync and file share solutions can provide — they are much less likely to rely solely on SharePoint, and much more likely to incorporate full-fledged enterprise content management (ECM) solutions.
In fact, for single-site / single-vendor environments, SharePoint represents 90% of all installations, while for more complex multi-site / multi-vendor installations, SharePoint is part of just 64% of all installations.
Keep in mind, file sync solutions enable users to transfer files to a central repository, so they can be accessed by themselves from one or more different devices. File share capabilities enable users not only to transfer files to a central repository, but also allow them to be accessed by one or more specific collaborators.
In contrast, ECM solutions provide the fundamental building blocks of managing content over its entire lifecycle, such as those promoted by the Association for Information and Image Management: capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver.
For example, beyond storing, syncing, and sharing files, organizations are increasingly looking to leading ECM solutions to help them derive ever-greater business value from their unstructured data, by:
- Integrating enterprise content into their most important applications, processes, and workflows
- Delivering enterprise content in context, to support productivity and collaboration goals for their users
- Addressing security, privacy, and compliance requirements for enterprise content, to manage the risks of supporting broader, more liberal access
In addition, leading ECM solutions have focused on improving the veracity (e.g., accuracy, integrity), completeness, and timeliness of unstructured data. As opposed to merely providing users with access to files, this actually supports business users in making better and more timely decisions.
These are among the many important differentiators between enterprise content management solutions — which are designed around an enterprise-class, cradle-to-grave, lifecycle perspective of managing enterprise content — and the many popular solutions in the much less comprehensive file sync and file share categories (many of which are primarily consumer-oriented applications).
We can visualize how organizations have already turned to more sophisticated ECM solutions as their go-to option for more complex environments, as well as for ECM’s many higher-value capabilities for deriving business value from their unstructured data. In the following chart:
- The total footprint (number of installations) for each of the selected content management solutions that are visible in the Aberdeen Group CiTDS is plotted on the x-axis
- The percentage of multi-site / multi-vendor installations (as opposed to single-site / single-vendor installations) for each of these content management solutions is plotted on the y-axis
The simple two-by-two matrix that results visually demonstrates the leading enterprise-class ECM solutions that organizations have already turned to, beyond the basic capabilities of their file sync and file share solutions.
Source: Aberdeen Group CiTDS, November 2015
To sum up, the more your organization can be described by the following attributes, the more it should look at adopting enterprise content management solutions:
- Currently using less comprehensive file sync / file share solutions, such as Microsoft SharePoint or Dropbox
- Want to increase collaboration between business users, both internal and external — and both local and remote
- Want the convenience and productivity of a cloud-based, mobile-friendly environment — while still managing the risks with enterprise-class capabilities (as opposed to consumer-class capabilities) for security, privacy, and compliance
- Need help with finding and assessing existing enterprise content, which may be scattered throughout the organization
- Need to integrate enterprise content with existing applications and infrastructure —such that what currently works, still works when it is extended to the cloud
- Want to improve the quality, completeness, and timeliness of the content being provided to business users — as opposed to merely providing them with access to data — to support faster, better business decisions