Hosted ECM Vendor Shoots for Midmarket

By Matt Hines  |  Posted 2006-02-07 Print this article Print

Online applications provider SpringCM is betting that midsize companies are hungry for enterprise content management and are willing to adopt the software as a service model to get it.

Hosted applications provider SpringCM launched a new version of its enterprise content management software as it continues its push to recruit mid-market customers hungry for better data administration tools.

SpringCM, which was re-christened in January after being founded in 2005 as DocExchange, said that the newest version of its hosted applications boasts a number of upgrades, including expanded collaboration features and an augmented content routing system for files and documents.
The release marks the third major iteration of the firms online ECM services introduced since 2005.

Dubbed as SpringCM 3.0, specific additions to the hosted tools include a document check-out function designed to make it easier for workers to collaborate and share edits on a specific piece of content, or group of documents, and a technology tabbed as dynamic content routing that promises to automatically notify workers when someone has updated content being shared among a team.

The hosted service also added the ability to support multi-account memberships, allowing users to sign in to its applications once and gain access to multiple accounts.

Software as a service, or applications hosted away from an organizations physical premises by a vendor who maintains the data and programs, can offer a number of advantages over traditional enterprise software, proponents say. Those benefits include faster installation, lower overall costs and increased ease-of-use.

In the enterprise applications space, hosted software provider has proven the potential for such online tools by growing its business rapidly and even driving its rivals, most recently business software sector leader SAP, to create their own rival services.

According to SpringCM Chief Executive Christine Mason, midsize companies will soon begin turning to hosted ECM tools for the same reasons they bought into Salesforce.coms customer relationship management services, namely, because the online applications are cheaper to run, easier to implement and demand little-to-no maintenance.

"Much as with enterprise software, ECM has been largely available only to large companies based on its price tag and related implementation challenges, as well as the usability of existing products," said Mason. "By moving to a software as a services model, we think we can eliminate a lot of those issues; the mid-market is still very underserved by ECM, and we think our model will encourage more of these companies to take a look."

Enterprise content management technologies are used by businesses to capture, manage, store, preserve and deliver information and documents related to their organizational processes. ECM tools and strategies are increasingly aimed at improving management of organizations so-called unstructured data, or information stored in non-traditional formats such as instant messaging applications.

To read more about Open Texts enhancements to its Livelink ECM platform, click here. With growing pressure to get a handle on unstructured data for reasons ranging from the ability to create new products to adhering to data retention regulations such as the federal governments Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Mason said that midsize companies have the same desire to utilize ECM in the same manner as their larger counterparts.

The executive said that content management segment leaders such as EMC and Hummingbird have yet to target the mid-market successfully, but she believes that opportunity available in the space will likely encourage those firms and others to increase their focus on midsize customers.

Another reason why midsize customers may be likely to adopt hosted ECM tools is because they are immediately able to save substantially on data storage technologies, said Mason, as SpringCM takes over management of those operations from its users. The executive said that the success of and other hosted providers have eased most security concerns related to handing over sensitive corporate information to a hosted applications vendor.

"We believe that we can prove market for hosted ECM," said Mason. "There may be some document-focused technologies out there, but there are no other end-to-end solutions like our on the market; weve been up against the larger players and won already, mainly on our lower price and the unique benefits of applications delivered as a service."

While Mason declined to share how many users SpringCM is supporting so far, she said the firm has roughly 50 customers, including the state of Alaska, which has recently signed on to use the software to help track forest fire data.

She said that future versions of the software will include tools for culling information from new sources of unstructured data, including blogs and wikis.

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