Content management software resellers stand accused of over-complicating the issues faced by end-user organisations in order to make sales.
Recent Meta Group research revealed that more than 95 per cent of Asia-Pacific companies have no comprehensive enterprise content management strategy. According to the report, organisations are over-investing in disconnected purchasing decisions that will result in substantial migration costs over the next three years.
Meta Group's senior vice-president of technology research services, John Brand, said the entire industry was on the verge of screeching to a halt if the channel did not start encouraging buyers to approach problems realistically.
"In the channel it's a constant trade-off between educating end-users and the fact that people will begin to learn more about what they're buying," he said. "People don't spend nearly enough time on working out what their problem is in the first place. My best advice is be careful what you ask for - you would be amazed at what we have come across in the past."
Brand said uncertainty over applications such as Longhorn, combined with unclear responsibilities for the content management vendors, was giving resellers the opportunity to make more margin at the expense of the customer.
"Vendors are trying to tackle the market as a collection of separate solutions, while customers aren't looking at things holistically," he said. "People are taking the easy route - it's the path of least resistance. Unfortunately, end-users will end up getting burnt. The market is facing a turbulent few years."
Perth-based Pretzel Logic resells Microsoft's Content Management Suite and Interwoven as well as its own content management software. Managing director, Steve Pretzel, agreed that his customers were often misguided when it came to their own needs.
"Many organisations are spending more money on content management systems than is needed to solve the problem," he said. "They invest in expensive systems when they would have been better off either hiring a webmaster or outsourcing.
"I could point to some absolute horror stories where big companies have steered customers the wrong way and got people into one hell of a mess."
Dimension Data's national business manager for application integration, Peter Menadue, argued it was the vendors that were responsible for the current fuss.
"Two years ago there was a push from the vendors towards massive, monolithic enterprise content management systems," he said. "Customers installed huge systems that addressed a minor issue and the projects stalled. It created a negative reaction.
"More recently, applications have begun to blend together and bring realistic content management to the enterprise - not via monolithic systems but gradually through applications such as Microsoft office."
Menadue also credited end-users with better knowledge of both their own systems and the buying process than the others suggested.
"The industry has seen a real wave of short-termism, but the landscape is changing," he said.
"We're seeing a greater number of clients realising there is a life- cycle to content management beyond 'solve my document management problems'."