Content management vendors eye midmarket

As smaller businesses have to deal with dramatically larger amounts of content, ECM companies increasingly try to gain a foothold in those smaller markets

ECM (enterprise content management) software vendors, most recently IBM, are vying to increase their appeal to midsize businesses. While many large enterprises already have solutions provided by EMC, IBM, or FileNet (acquired by IBM last year), some midsize companies have steered away from ECM software as being too expensive and complicated to use.

However, as the amount of content users of all sizes have to deal with continues to grow dramatically, midsize customers have an increasing need to manage it.

Increasingly, pure-play ECM companies like Interwoven, Open Text, and Vignette are aligning themselves with infrastructure software vendors, notably Microsoft, to integrate their capabilities into desktop applications. At the same time, Microsoft and Oracle are providing more lower-level content management functionality themselves as a way to drive sales of their databases and middleware.

IBM is considering how best to serve the content needs of midsize companies, says Steve Mills, senior vice president of the vendor's software group. "We're already reaching into the middle and have some skinnyed-down products," he says. IBM shipped its first major release of its acquired FileNet technology, FileNet P8 4.0, in February. The software helps users capture, manage, access, and bring together content from across operations, automating records management and aiding compliance efforts. A new J2EE-based content engine and content federation services for third-party repositories help with search, classification, storage, and updating of content held in data stores from a variety of software vendors.

Utility company Consolidated Edison Company of New York has been an IBM customer for more than 35 years and a FileNet user for more than 15. It began deploying FileNet's P8 in late 2004 to automate the transfer of data between the company and outside agencies, such as the Department of Transportation, says Franklin Alvarez, manager of computer applications, construction services.

Alvarez's unit does the excavation for laying new electricity cables or gas pipelines and related repairs in New York City, tasks that require continual liaison with multiple agencies to obtain permits. The utility is keen to put more content, such as layouts of systems and compliance specs, into its workers' hands at excavation sites.

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