Enterprise Content Management Partnerships – The Opportunity and the Value

In my last post I signed off indicating that I would highlight some examples of Microsoft working with ECM partners.  I think the time has come to resurface this discussion.

In my opinion, there is some confusion in the marketplace about what Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) is and what it does. Some think of it as a Portal offering; some think of as an ECM solution, or a collaboration tool; while others think of it as a Business Process Management solution or a Reporting Solution. While all of these are partially true, MOSS 2007 is, at its core, a comprehensive enterprise content management platform that provides foundational content management capabilities from which any organization may benefit.

Being a platform offering, MOSS contains much of the core functionality needed by companies to implement their content management strategy. However, business line owners seek compelling infrastructure, as well as demand unique solutions for their business challenges. This is where Enterprise Content Management ISVs who partner with Microsoft play a very significant role. Though each ISV partner has its own differentiated value add, the solutions generally fall into 3 categories: horizontal integrations, functional extensions and vertical solutions. Please permit me to explain what these are and give you some examples of these categories.

Horizontal Integrations

Many organizations already have more than one ECM platform that they have deployed within a division or group. With MOSS providing significant value from a price/capability/ease of use perspective, many of these organizations are embracing MOSS. This creates a dilemma and an opportunity for other ECM ISVs. They can either remain siloed and shield the use of their products, or determine how to integrate with MOSS in a way that provides value to their customer. The latter not only solidifies their current install but creates new value and associated revenue opportunity. Let me give you an example. Let’s say an ISV’s ECM infrastructure is the destination for documents to be stored long term; however MOSS is where the users collaborate to create the document. Several ECM ISVs have built compelling integrations where customers get the best of both worlds. Users can use MOSS functionality for document management, workflow, reporting, etc. while using existing products from ISVs for the functionality they provide such as long term retention, advanced BPM, etc.

Functional Extensions

While MOSS has many core functionalities out of the box, there are several other capabilities that MOSS does not currently provide. What I am talking about here is capability, not solutions. Let me give you an example. Digital Asset Management is a functionality that MOSS does not include out of the box. Image capture is another such capability. Several of the ECM ISVs provide these capabilities at the infrastructure level and adding these types of capabilities to MOSS in a seamless and integrated way is another way in which ECM ISVs work with Microsoft to provide joint value to customers.

Vertical Solutions

This is one of the areas which I personally believe provides tremendous opportunity and value for ECM ISVs to partner with Microsoft. Microsoft is a platform company at heart and provides capabilities that ISVs can build on to create domain specific solutions. Business owners need solutions for the problems, be they regulated document solutions, case management solutions, imaging solutions, contracts management solutions, etc. Several of the ECM ISVs we work with have seen this opportunity and have built solutions on the MOSS platform leveraging the capabilities and adding business centric logic, process and know how.

I hope this information helps to lay out the opportunities and values that ECM ISVs can garner by working closely with MSFT. This is my simple perspective, and I would welcome other viewpoints, thoughts and feedback.

Raj Rajesh

Microsoft Business Development Manager