Gartner Predicts Decline for Content Services and We Don't Agree


Recently, Gartner Research released their Market Share Analysis for Content Services (what we call ECM.) They predict a bleak picture for traditional ECM. Because of the pandemic, digitization projects were put on hold or lost their funding. The reason was, “buyers wanted projects that could be quickly implemented.” This situation drove a decline of 1.7% in ECM implementation.


The report states that “The COVID-19 pandemic tilted the market balance from on-premises to SaaS in 2020. Accordingly, no technology provider offering predominantly on-premises or hosted solutions beat the content services market average revenue growth in 2020.”

In short, I think Gartner is mistaken. Here’s why:

  • Gartner’s research sample is composed of Gartner clients. The research isn’t beneficial if your industry or business case isn’t found among their customer base. Nor is the market tally, considering they only have numbers from their clients.

  • Having worked with Gartner over the years, Their experience in municipal government is limited to cities like New York and Los Angeles. Cities of this size tend to subscribe to research but don’t necessarily participate in surveys. I’ve been a fly-on-the-wall during SLG briefings, and I don’t recognize some of the problems Gartner reports w/ on-prem. Additionally, I disagree that SaaS implementations are significantly faster than an on-premise installation.

  • Gartner offers both buy-side and sell-side consulting, which means that some degree of their vendor rating (via Magic Quadrant and other reporting) is due to what activities the vendor conducts(purchase exhibit space, case studies, webinars, and other co-marketing) with Gartner, to their buy-side clients (research, industry briefings). Some call this practice “pay for play.” If you are interested in learning more about the IT analyst business, check out this book: UP and to the RIGHT: Strategy and Tactics of Analyst Influence by Richard Stiennon. Stiennon is a former Gartner analyst.

  • While the cloud is definitely of interest to the municipal market, most of our municipal clients are still on-premise. So while Gartner vendor-clients are reporting growth from SaaS systems, we’ve seen growth w/ Laserfiche on-prem. In addition, the pandemic proved how quickly agencies could pivot from a counter-model to WFH and web or app-based citizen services. The flexibility of Laserfiche on-prem facilitates this level of resilience.

  • If anything, due to the pandemic, we are seeing a need for service extensions, more users, web access, greater extensibility, and more sophisticated ECM tools such as Workflow and Forms.

The information presented by IT analysts like Gartner can be pretty helpful, but subscribers should know that it’s just a data point to be weighed with many others. Including other analyst firms reporting, speaking with local agencies of a similar size, municipal publications, and vendor-agnostic case studies.

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