The three giants in EIM: Who is the BFG?


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Hyland’ s acquisition of Nuxeo last month ensures that there are now only three major players in the world of Enterprise Information Management (EIM) land. All other players lag far behind in terms of size and capital as a result. Which of these three giant companies will walk away with the lead? Or to put it another way, which of the three is the BFG?

EIM giant_Roald Dahl
source: Publisher De Fontein

Because I formulate this question in this way, I automatically end up with Roald Dahl’s bestseller, ‘The BFG’. The Big Friendly Giant, is the only giant in Giant Land who is good to people and likes to be friends with ordinary people and children. The book is highly recommended to read aloud or to secretly read yourself. So imaginatively written so that you are completely absorbed in it.

EIM world

When you compare the characters of the various giants in the book with the major players in the EIM and Content Services landscape, I do see some similarities. After having bought Alfresco, Hyland has now added Nuxeo to their software portfolio. The Content Services of the EIM world has thus become a little smaller again. Not in the number of users or in the amount of data that can be stored. On the contrary, it has become smaller in supply from the number of major global suppliers.

Open source solution

Until a few years ago, Alfresco was still the largest ‘open source’ platform available for EIM. Even though most of these Alfresco implementations were based on the expensive paid version of Alfresco, there was still a ‘free’ version that could do quite a bit. With the sale of Alfresco to an investment company, the concept was quickly abandoned. As a result, the ‘free’ version was really just for playing around with.

From that moment on, Nuxeo suddenly became the largest and most comprehensive ‘open source’ solution within EIM. But in recent years we have seen a lot of changes in that. As a result, more and more features were no longer available in the ‘free’ version. They were only available when the expensive support was taken.

Three dominant EIM giants

Now both products are part of the Hyland family. In doing so, Hyland is taking the same route that OpenText also took with the purchase of Hummingbird (eDocs) and Documentum. As a result, in EIM we see that only three major players remain. Microsoft, OpenText and Hyland. Surely all the other players are significantly smaller now. Any company thinking about Content Services/EIM will eventually end up with one or two of these three EIM giants. Especially if one expects certain guarantees for the future. For example, the speed of expansions.


But what do we think about that? As highly experienced EIM experts, this is an exciting move. We have seen that at OpenText, the purchase of an additional product brings great challenges. Only now, four years after the purchase of Documentum, do we see that the product has nestled well and maturely in the OpenText family. And this has not gone without a fight. This is simply because Documentum has a very large customer base. A customer group that is very attached to the product. For Alfresco, something similar to Documentum applies. Not as many customers and history, but compared to Hyland enough strength in size to make a fist.

Ranking in Gartner

For Nuxeo, it’s going to be much harder. Despite many rave reviews, an impressive vision and a nice ranking on Gartner. Nuxeo just doesn’t have that many customers. In a recent question of mine about the number of clients within the Benelux in data science, I was shown this overview.

EIM customer base
And these numbers were similar throughout Europe. So it’s a challenge to remain important enough in Hyland’s very American and commercially hard organization. What happens to their ranking in Gartner? We saw this year that OpenText suddenly dropped a bit. In number of users and vision because it was only allowed to have one of the four products participate in the test. Only xECM and not Documentum, Content Suite or eDocs. Therefore, this will now be a challenge for Hyland as well. Maybe Gartner should rethink their strategy of only allowing one product per company.

Who’s the BFG in EIM now?

Now, in order to determine which of the three big EIM giants is the BFG, I’ll outline their characters in this EIM world. At first glance, Microsoft appears to be the BFG. Everyone uses it. And a lot of it. It is no longer possible to imagine a company without it. But it’s also a silent killer. Because many companies see their chaos of document management silently and unnoticed growing. The information pile just keeps growing. And the established governance model (if there is one) is followed by almost everyone but reasonably well. And then suddenly after about three years it’s total chaos. There’s nothing left to find. Many documents are in it multiple times. Nobody knows which is the correct version.

OpenText is a Canadian company and they are such friendly people. Ask yourself that? In my opinion Documentum is by far the best and most reliable Content Services product on the market. But that doesn’t make OpenText a friendly giant. The two great leaders: Mark Barrenechea and Muhi Majzoub have a very clear vision of their own. They don’t deviate from that easily. As a result, the input of customers and partners is appreciated, but whether it changes much is questionable.

And then finally, giant Hyland. Surely a large part of their current customer base now consists of people who hold Open Source in high esteem? That is certainly true, but the investments made now will have to be recouped over the next three to five years. And that’s not going to happen with fancy ‘Open Source’ products that are free in the basic. If Hyland is to be a commercial success, it will have to change course. And at this Ohio-based company, they’re not afraid to change because of this. They are not afraid to make hard choices.

The plot in the EIM story

So maybe there are no real GVRs in the world of EIM yet. It’s pretty clear that there are three big giants in EIM. Which together determine the entire EIM playing field. Each with their own assignment. Hyland has a very big job in the next three to four years to find a certain synergy and peace in their new giant body. In order to survive, I wonder what will happen to Box? Do we continue to fight windmills like Don Quixote? Who is going to deliver them from their lonely existence? Who will make her as David to defeat the 3 Goliaths? If Box wants to be in this game, eventually a buyer will have to be found. So does this determine who becomes the BFG in EIM? Does a fairy tale become reality after all? We will continue to follow it closely.


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