Sunday, January 8, 2012

Content Management Predictions for 2012

Another year over, and a new one just begun...yes, I’m quoting John Lennon. This is the time for resolutions and predictions. After I published my 2011 Content Management Predictions a year ago, I was rewarded by a lot of positive feedback and the article became the top post on my blog in 2011. I believe that every prediction has to be followed by a review and so I published my 2011 Predictions Scorecard just a few weeks ago. This year, let’s do it again! Here are my Content Management Predictions for 2012:

1. Big Data will be the hype of the year
If SoLoMo was the buzzword of 2011, I’m predicting that “big data” will be the hype in 2012. Sure, lots of companies are already talking about big data today but in 2012, everybody will be talking about it. There is no good definition of big data today which means that the marketers and pundits will have a field day. Just substitute the word “data” with “big data” and launch your marketing campaign!

2. “Social” becomes a feature
The year 2011 saw us shifting gears rapidly from social software to social media and finally to social business. That’s a sure sign that the social market hasn’t settled yet. In 2011, it was still unclear who were the legitimate stakeholders of social enterprise - consumer companies moving in, start-ups capitalizing on the hype, or the traditional enterprise software vendors? Well, I’m predicting that in 2012, it will become clear that social software is not a viable stand-alone business and that we will see it subsumed by enterprise software - from Opentext to SAP to Salesforce, but the big catalyst will be SharePoint 15.

3. SharePoint will solve every problem, again
Speaking of, the time has come to make a prediction about SharePoint. 2011 was surprisingly quiet on the SharePoint front with Microsoft focusing on other priorities. In fact, the pundits and wanna-be competitors started poking their heads out and proclaiming rebellious statements about SharePoint. Well, not so fast - the empire will strike again. I predict that SharePoint will make it on the list of Microsoft priorities by the end of 2012 and that just like the previous versions, the Redmond Marketing Machine will turn it into a universal solution for every problem. For a while, we will actually believe it but eventually, things will settle back into the right order. But this time, there may be a new twist in this familiar tune - the cloud!

4. Rise of the hybrid cloud
In 2011, it was impossible to have a conversation without mentioning the cloud which is what we started calling it when we could not tell SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS apart anymore. Clouds are hip and all of a sudden, everybody is a meteorologist! Well, I predicted for 2011 that enterprises will not be rushing to the cloud yet. In 2012, that might change. The cloud-based model makes a lot of sense and now, we have a way to say that we may consider selectively taking advantage of certain cloud-based offerings for some use cases: hybrid cloud. In 2012, we will start seeing hybrid cloud adoption of content management software.

5. Cloudy outlook for open source
Well, all that cloud business has gotta be bad news for open source. Sure, there will always be customers who will like to tinker with their deployments like I wrote about last February. But customers hoping to save money - or at least to reduce their capex - by embracing open source have to seriously consider the cloud-based offerings. Sure, Drupal will be still around and probably still growing but the Great Open Source Movement will hit the trough of disillusionment in 2012 - courtesy of the cloud.

6. Consumerization is here to stay
In my 2011 look back, I admitted that consumerization was one significant trend that I had missed in my predictions. In 2012, consumerization will continue. Particularly the trend of employees bringing their own devices to work will continue. Facing the rapid pace of innovation in consumer devices, companies will not be able to keep up and they will have to give in. People will simply buy the latest gadget and use it for work. OK, since this is too easy of a prediction, I am also predicting that the consequences of consumerization will be the number one topic for the records management and information governance crowd in 2012.

7. End of convergence
One of the consequences of consumerization will be the end of device convergence. Until now, I believed that all of the cool functionality would eventually be subsumed by a single mobile device - most likely sold to us by Apple. But that is not happening. I travel frequently with my laptop, iPad, iPhone, pocket camera, and even a GPS. Oh, and I’ve started wearing an iPod Nano as a watch and I bought a Kindle. That’s not convergence! The reason why I do this is simple - for specific tasks, an optimized device is far better than similar functionality in my smart phone. For example - data roaming fees are the reason for using a GPS while my tiny Canon takes pictures far better than the iPhone and the Kindle is a better reader. For 2012, I predict that we will see even more divergence like this. The device manufacturers have to differentiate and they will be bringing out devices that will be compelling enough to carry multiple ones. Is anybody at RIM reading this? There is a niche opening up for secure, enterprise grade devices, folks...

8. HTML5 won’t kill apps
Talking about mobility, 2011 marked the beginning of not just the post-PC era but also the post-Flash world. With Flash dead (yes, technically only ‘mobile Flash’ is dead but that really means that Flash is dead) and with Silverlight the likely next victim, all hopes are turning to HTML5 as the panacea for all mobility-related problems. The biggest of the problems being the fact that building native apps is getting costly with the number of mobile OS derivatives growing - particularly in the Android camp. Well, folks, I predict that HTML5 will not solve this issue anytime soon. Certainly not in 2012. In 2012, we will continue seeing native apps being built at a rapid pace. I have elaborated on my reasoning in my recent article. Those enterprise apps I have predicted for 2011 will keep coming in 2012.

9. Tipping point for analytics
There has been plenty of discussion about the need for content analytics in 2011 yet the adoption has been still fairly modest. Sure, the IBM Watson won on Jeopardy and lots of Web sites have added some analytical capabilities to increase their stickiness. But not many organizations use analytics to improve their productivity today - i.e. to help employees deal with the information overflow by applying automatic analytics and classification. I suspect that the price-performance ratio has been the problem so far - it takes way too much computing power to do anything meaningful with acceptable performance. After all, the Watson is a supercomputer! I predict that this will change in 2012. The technology is now good enough to derive significant benefits from analytics and that in 2012, we will start seeing a much broader adoption.

10. ECM, what’s next?
Lots has been said and written in 2011 about the end of the ECM era. Many vendors tried to distance themselves from Enterprise Content Management by trying to either coin new terms or by embracing broader alternatives. Not very successfully. Like it or not, the term ECM is still the one and only term that has been adopted to describe this space. In 2012, I predict that the search for the ECM replacement will continue and that at the end of 2012, we will be where we are today. Sure, there will be more consolidation and some vendors will be talking about subsuming their ECM acquisitions. There will also be vendors coining new terms like “Secure Social Experience” and “Content as a Service” and “ECM 3.0”. But none of that will stick. In December 2012, we will still call this space ECM. I hope I’m wrong on this one, by the way...

Well, here they are, my predictions. Please let me know where you agree and disagree. I sure hope that you disagree with at least some of them. Otherwise, my predictions would be safe and boring. After all, one of my favorite quotes comes from the great Mario Andretti:

If everything seems under control, you are not driving fast enough!

I wish you a great 2012. Start your engines and pedal to the metal!


  1. Great post Lubor. Some of my thoughts on two of the above:

    Big Data - I see in 2012 ECM companies will start to talk about "big content" in the same way database vendors position "big data." If what we say is true about the majority of business information being unstructured, then I expect some vendor jockeying to be the first with a somewhat realistic conversation about Hadoop & ECM.

    Analytics - I expect text analytics to become an ingredient technology within bigger solutions. For example, as part of an insurance fraud solution, or healthcare treatment. Or in smaller ways such as understanding the business relevance of content in shared drives and legacy systems as part of a content migration strategy. The power of text analytics seems best expressed in the context of business solutions (not text analytics for the sake of text analytics).

  2. As you say Lubor, companies are clearly giving in to staff pressure to let them use a range of easy-to-use devices and service, and enterprise security is being compromised as a result. I wonder if there will be some big records disasters in 2012 that will empower IT departments to push back. Wiki-leaks on steroids where the victim is commerce not government?