My colleague Craig Le Clair did a nice wrap-up of the long-anticipated news of the divestiture of the Enterprise Content Division (ECD) from the newly merged Dell-EMC entity. The move to spin off the Documentum, InfoArchive and Leap platform was expected, it wasn’t entirely clear over the last few months who the lucky buyer would be. Step up OpenText!

Craig’s post has some thoughtful recommendations for current ECD customers – for today and beyond 2017 – so I won’t rehash these points here: read it for yourself.

Today’s deal, however, caps a rollercoaster couple of weeks in the broader enterprise content management market. Old vendors are merging, divesting, and trying to reinvent themselves in adjacent markets. Just last week, HP Enterprise “merged” its information and content management portfolio – including its ECM and information governance products – with MicroFocus (a vendor with little name brand recognition in these markets)

Yet, new vendors are delivering real innovation in ECM. The OpenText acquisition of its key decades-long rival comes on the heels of the announcements from BoxWorks 2016, as well as Nuxeo’s $20M investment from Goldman Sachs.

Box has become a real alternative to traditional ECM providers, particularly in the “business content services” segment of the market. With the announcement of Box Relay, the workflow engine co-developed by partner IBM, Box will soon be able to nibble at the edges of simple transactional content management use cases as well. A fresh look at workflow and task management, developed from scratch for the day-to-day information worker, is a welcome addition to cloud ECM market.  Traction with Box’s platform for content applications continues to pick up steam, with some fascinating examples of companies using Box’s cloud content services to power their plans for digital disruption. (For example, legal service provider, LegalZoom, leverages Box for content services as it takes on the traditional law firm market for consumers and small-mid sized businesses).

Nuxeo, one of the few open source ECM platforms in the market has had slow, but steady growth over the last several years, including traction in the US after building out a stronger executive, technical, and sales presence. A $20M investment by Goldman Sachs comes just a few weeks after a $10M investment by Kennett Partners earlier this summer. While Nuxeo’s brand recognition is relatively low outside of the EU and developer circles, its commitment to innovation in ECM  and digital asset management (DAM) is high – always on the cutting edge of supporting new APIs (such as Google Vision), NoSQL databases, etc.

Earlier in 2016, another rising European vendor, M-Files, made noise in the North American market with a $36M Series B round, with much of it earmarked for R&D and global expansion. And, Alfresco continues to scoop up and migrate legacy deployments from several incumbent vendors across the ECM landscape. Cloud content services from Google and Dropbox appear on enterprise buyers’ radar, according to our recent ECM online panel survey.

What does this all mean?

Enterprises need to take a long, hard look at their ECM roadmaps and understand how content services will help them in their own customer experience and growth plans. The old guard is consolidating and the pace of innovation in those acquired portfolios remains to be seen. New vendors are working quickly to fill feature gaps, attract new customers, and demonstrate success in the regulated industries that rely most heavily on ECM. The new players – architected in THIS century, not the last one – are stepping up. Understand the role of cloud in your own content strategy and dig under the covers to understand which vendors have designed to exploit these elastic, flexible architectures, and which ones are just hosting their own legacy products.  ECM is not a dead or stale market – but is one that will look quite different by 2020.