More when I’m not on vacation, but obviously this is big news.
Big news indeed, and in fact IBM’s fourth largest acquisition of any kind – ever – according to the AP. One of the more compelling takeaways from the analyst conference call is the effect on the market’s ability to deliver cohesive vertical and horizontal solutions in the ECM-BPM intersection. (blog archive)
FileNet and IBM reps repeatedly stressed their ability to “provide content-centric BPM in the context of business processes.” Not hard to envision. FileNet’s historical investment in its BPM modules is a large part of its competitive differentiation. On equal par from a SOA/BPEL-driven perspective, IBM’s v6 Websphere BPM products provide the STP/integration capabilities for the sibling requirements. The opportunity for a technology merge is intriguing. Fully preparing for the intersection is clearly a primary goal; as per the call, “the timing is good for a combination of forces.” I wouldn’t call it a smooth road however, despite the promises of “nothing but goodness for everyone.”
Although the two former partners and competitors stress the “preservation and enhancement” of both ECM platforms (the ECM divisions will become one), the holy grail of post-acquisition integration (culture, technology & strategy) could be quite significant in this case.
I think we are going to look to this acquisition, to this moment, as the beginning of a sea-change in the CMS/DAM/ECM (call it what you will) marketspace. Companies like IBM and Oracle have been nibbling on little companies in this zone for several years, but none of their acquisitions really made an unequivocal statement of support for where this technology is going and how important it’s going to be for the big players. Microsoft talks a good game, but I think that plonking down $1.6 billion for a company with $500 million in sales, 15-20% growth rates (and, yes, a bunch of cash in the bank) says, in my simple vocabulary, “WE’RE SERIOUS.”
FileNet is a grown-up company: over 4,000 Grade A Beef customers, a great organization, solid track record and a very mature approach to fiscal discipline. IBM have bought them. Ergo, the game has changed. It’s changed for every vendor in (or near) this space, and it’s changed for every large organization interested in increasing its investments in this technology. To ignore this acquisition would be a big mistake.
Shameless plug department: I don’t work for Gilbane; I’m just running a track, but whether I was running the track or not, I’d be rushing to book my seat for Boston in November – it’s long enough from now to give us some perspective, and everyone who has anything worth saying on this subject will be there!
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