Update: Promoted from comment to Frank’s one-liner.

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.