Friday, October 14, 2011

Collaboration and Content in the Cloud

First came ECM, then came Microsoft SharePoint, then Google took content to the Cloud. Now everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon, as sharing content gets even easier in the cloud. Lots of start-ups and existing providers are jumping in (Box, Dropbox, Citrix, IBM, Google, Microsoft, Mindjet) and many others. It is all about making access to content fast, easy and mobile.

At Gartner, I helped coin the term Basic Content Services (BCS) as a way to describe what, at the time were emerging capabilities in products like SharePoint, which was not full Enterprise Content Management (ECM). Microsoft didn't like the term BCS and started to proclaim themselves as full ECM.

Jump ahead to 2011 and files are larger, people (like sales execs) are using tablets for work, and email systems block the transport of large files. Some are calling this new capability Cloud Content Management and for vendors it is a hot market. There is a large amount of investment, mainly at Box, which is gaining significant attention in this space. As a result, there is also new M&A activity occurring (e.g. Citrix announced it is buying ShareFile). Expect to see a lot more in the coming months.

In 2011, it is about more than just putting content in the Cloud. People want to be able to collaborate too, and for those that remember, collaboration has always been part of the content management story. People need access to the content, but often they need to collaborate with others on it. Google established the collaborative content approach with Google Docs and now others are working hard to capitalize on that trend.

As a recent example of collaborative content, Mindjet now offers their mind mapping tool as a Cloud service, Mindjet Connect. You can create information maps, edit and collaborate on them, as well as manage content with this new cloud service. Additionally, Cisco recently acquired Versly, which allows users to collaborate within a Microsoft Office document.

Aragon Research is publishing a syndicated research note this month that reviews this shift towards Collaborative Content in much deeper detail. There are lots of choices that will emerge and it is clear that business leaders are not waiting for the old way of doing things with ECM.

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