Gartner: No, content services are not dead

In fact, neither is enterprise content management or document management. These are all technologies still with viable use cases and value propositions. But they are also strategies. When Michael Woodbridge announced The Death of ECM and the Birth of Content Services in 2017, it was the enterprise content management strategy that we proclaimed dead. Now we’re scaling our search on content services platform. The first part is to move the CSP Magic quadrant to a market guide.

At the time, research by Michael, Hanns Koehler-Kruener and Karen Hobert showed that end users had failed to realize the vision of “one repository to rule them all”. The needs of the business unit have not been weighed against the broader needs of the company. Organizations had eight to thirty different repositories. Business users were increasingly eager to bring “Shadow IT”. The team saw a shift towards coexistence and that was content services, divided into content service platforms (CSP), content service applications (CSA), and content service components (CSC).

Over the past five years, we have seen minimal evolution in content service platforms. While there are more integrations with line-of-business solutions, we don’t see any significant new innovations or features. And cloud office suites bring a basic content services platform to most organizations. It is difficult to separate what is functionally unique between one platform and another.

Meanwhile, the content services application space has exploded. Traditional document management use cases, once custom solutions, are now solved by out-of-the-box applications. Months, sometimes years of custom development have been replaced by weeks of configuration. Business documents such as contracts, invoices, and employee documents all have unique solutions. It is not about content but about meeting the needs of professional users of these documents. But they bring with them challenges to IT as they often lack enterprise requirements such as information governance. Gartner Covers Seventeen Content Services Application Markets with Magic Quadrants or Market Guides

However, a platform or application may require a particular set of skills and this is where content services components fit in. Components fill in the gaps that platforms and apps don’t. While CSPs and CSAs provide workflow, organizations are still turning to low-code application platforms for more complex scenarios. Records management is a requirement for all commercial content, with the proliferation of CSPs and CSAs the problem is only getting more complicated. Gartner covers fourteen components of content services with Magic Quadrants or Market Guides.

The evolution of our content services research into a market guide doesn’t mean that content services platforms are dead. They are indeed not. Content services platforms are part of the history of solving business document requirements. Organizations don’t ask about features, such as version control and Word integrations. They ask about managing standard operating procedures or storing invoices as records. What our customers want to know is “should I choose this platform or this application?” Answering this question requires a broader body of research on topics such as ACME, content streamand new work centers.

The last five years have shown us that the need for content services is not going away, but it seems to be getting more complex. You just need to step back and look at the bigger picture. You will see that there are many solutions.


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Jenny T. Curlee