Smart Enterprise Suites: Coming to an Enterprise Near You

Archived Published: 06 March 2003 ID: G00113542


  Free preview of Gartner research


The term "smart enterprise suite" may not yet be widely recognized, but the trend is clear -- smart enterprise suites are emerging as a new market.

Table of Contents


Although the term "smart enterprise suite" (SES) is not yet on everyone's lips, the concept it represents has progressed rapidly during the past six months. Vendors of portal products, content and document management, and collaboration support have almost universally identified with the trend to deliver a broader suite of products. Each will try to skew the definition of SES to its area of strength, but nevertheless, there is a strong degree of agreement on the scope and content of such a suite.

User enterprises may likely say "What suite? Why would I want one of those?" Whether or not it is articulated in this form, most enterprises are expecting more from the portal, or the content management product, than merely an information aggregation utility or a document library and publishing mechanism. They may be thinking in terms of a portal or a content management solution, but the scope of that solution has grown — and in fact, it becomes harder to see where a portal ends and a content management product starts. These perspectives are analyzed in "The Portal Is Dead, Long Live the Portal" and "From Enterprise Content Management to SES and Beyond."

We have therefore decided the time is right to produce the first Magic Quadrant for the SES market (see "The Smart Enterprise Suite Magic Quadrant for 2003" ). This is inevitably a challenge, because very different vendors with different backgrounds, strengths and weaknesses are potential competitors in this market. There are three major categories:

  • Traditional software infrastructure vendors such as IBM, Microsoft and Oracle, that typically have most, if not all, of the capabilities required in an SES somewhere in their product portfolio and are now somewhere in the process of organizing all of their assets to address this market.

  • Several vendors that have been strong in one of the precursor markets (such as Plumtree Software in the portal market, Open Text in team collaboration or Vignette in content management) are looking to broaden their scope through the organic growth of their product (such as Plumtree's Enterprise Web with its inclusion of content management and collaboration modules), or by acquisition (as with Vignette and Epicentric combining content management and portal capabilities).

  • Business application vendors are perhaps the most surprising participants in this market. As application functionality is increasingly delivered via a browser interface, the issue of control of the user interface framework (for example, the portal), has become key for these vendors. SAP took the highly uncharacteristic step of buying a company to establish a position in the portal market. PeopleSoft has also sought to be positioned as a portal vendor. Siebel Systems, while not describing its products using that terminology, has offered similar capabilities. These vendors are not interested in the opportunity to deliver portals as such, but in providing the key component through which their functionality will be exploited — aggregate or be aggregated.

Details on the criteria we have used in constructing the Magic Quadrant can be found in "Assessment Criteria for 2003 SES Magic Quadrant."

The implications of the SES go beyond simply an aggregation of portal, content management and collaboration functionality. This is most clearly seen from the perspective of the business application vendors that regard the suite as a platform to deliver a new range of applications with extended functionality. Rather than have an application based on transactions using a relational database, they want to extend the scope to support long-running business processes with ad hoc collaboration and document processing. These are exactly the capabilities previously delivered by the other types of SES vendors. Now they are potentially components within a broadly scoped application platform. Not surprisingly, infrastructure vendors are therefore scrambling to combine their previously distinct products to deliver such a platform before they are outflanked by the application vendors. This battle is explored in "New Applications Emerge — Business Process Fusion."

The SES is turning out to be more than just a bundling of products in the style of the "office" suite, which cannibalized the market for word processing and charting packages. Although the SES should indeed grow the market and the application of basic portal, content management and collaboration support functionality, it also marks a jumping-off point for the next generation of software applications. The SES therefore sits alongside major trends plotted by Gartner in the software infrastructure market, such as the application platform suite and service-oriented architectures. Some questions and answers regarding this larger story can be found in "The Future of the Smart Enterprise Suite."


"The Portal Is Dead, Long Live the Portal" — Although portals began as simple gateways, their functionality has greatly increased to enable additional collaboration and communication. By Gene Phifer

"From Enterprise Content Management to SES and Beyond" — The evolution of portals, content management and collaboration functionality is represented in the smart enterprise suite. By Mark Gilbert and Lou Latham

"The Smart Enterprise Suite Magic Quadrant for 2003" — Our Magic Quadrant will help enterprises assess this new market, providing a combination of portal, collaborative and content management functionality. By Simon Hayward, Mark Gilbert, Gene Phifer and French Caldwell

"Assessment Criteria for 2003 SES Magic Quadrant" — Vendors are rated on specific criteria, focusing on collaboration support, content management and delivery within a portal framework. By Simon Hayward

"New Applications Emerge — Business Process Fusion" — Enterprises can deploy business process fusion applications to widen the scope and capability of other applications. By Simon Hayward

"The Future of the Smart Enterprise Suite" — The smart enterprise suite can extend platforms to create specialized applications to integrate analytical, business application and content management application functionality. By French Caldwell, Simon Hayward, Mark Gilbert and Gene Phifer

© 2003 Gartner, Inc. and/or its Affiliates. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction and distribution of this publication in any form without prior written permission is forbidden. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. Although Gartners research may discuss legal issues related to the information technology business, Gartner does not provide legal advice or services and its research should not be construed or used as such. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof. The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.

Why Gartner

Gartner delivers the technology-related insight you need to make the right decisions, every day.

Find out more

Call +1 800 213 4848 or contact us

to become a Gartner client.