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Competitive Dynamics in the Content Management Arena

In getting its content management act together in Commerce Server 2000, Microsoft faces formidable challenges from a diverse set of competitors, including Documentum, Vignette, InterWoven, Blue Martini, BroadVision, and others. What's most interesting about the catalog and content management competitive environments are the following dominant trends in the marketplace—some that favor Microsoft and some that don't:

  • There is a strong reliance on J2EE platforms. Microsoft would love for everyone to believe that .NET will be the great equalizer; in effect, the initiative that turns its reputation around for being proprietary on enterprise applications. The reality is that .NET has a long way to go to prove this point. And in the interim, smaller and more innovative competitors will be making significant traction in the market that is rewarding an operating system agnostic approach to implementation.

  • Competitors are moving to Web services quickly. It's ironic that Microsoft is the one pioneering the concept of Web services, yet competitors specifically in the content management arena are the ones getting applications built just as fast, if not even faster. Documentum's approach to content Web-based services is definitely worth a look if you are considering a content management strategy. The capability of Documentum to turn the corner on its strong vertical market focus and get the Web services strategy moving quickly forward is shows that companies with a tighter focus than Microsoft in this area can move just as fast (if not faster) than the software provider.

  • Competitive positioning through integration. This is definitely an area that Microsoft needs to improve because the Product Catalog System works well with other Microsoft-based applications, yet struggles with third-party databases. Microsoft's competitors are clearly making inroads in this area through a shifting away from B2C or B2B to a more platform-centered approach to selling.

  • Is Commerce Server a big enough reason to switch? The flagship of the entire content management strategy that Microsoft is proposing is Commerce Server. Given the fact that it was late to market and many of the Site Server customers have moved on to other platforms, Microsoft faces its toughest challenge here.

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