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OpenText Acquires Global 360

OpenText announced it has acquired Global 360 Holding Corporation, a provider of process and case management solutions. The acquisition continues OpenText’s expansion into business process management (BPM) market. The transaction purchase price is approximately $260 million, subject to customary purchase price and holdback adjustments. The transaction has closed in the first quarter of fiscal 2012 and is not part of the fiscal 2011 fourth quarter and year-end results of OpenText. In February 2011, OpenText also acquired Metastorm, which offers other solutions that complement Global 360, such as business process analysis and enterprise architecture software. http://www.opentext.com http://www.global360.com

Polymita Releases FreeFlow BPM Solution

Polymita, a provider of BPM software and solutions, announced the launch of Polymita FreeFlow, a new generation in process management (BPM). Polymita FreeFlow covers business scenarios that need unstructured and collaborative processes and is integrated in the version 6 Polymita. Polymita FreeFlow enables the implementation of unstructured processes at any time or as a part of a structured process. It provides collaboration features, assigning unplanned tasks to users, adding new users or adding new documents or data that are needed to manage the incident, emergency or unplanned change. The users access the same process context that the original process (data, documents, indicators, business rules) and supports collaboration, approval, delegation, alerts and cancellation tasks. Polymita FreeFlow also provides the ability to create workflows, both within a process and independently, with dynamic assignment of roles, on-demand creation tasks from structured processes and their control and supervision, as well as other features. Polymita FreeFlow can be used on-premise, as SaaS or Cloud. www.polymita.com

SharePoint for ECM?

Microsoft SharePoint is a force in the content management market. For the year ending June 2007, Microsoft reported $800 million in revenue for SharePoint, a figure that dwarfs most stand-alone ECM vendors and is nearly twice as large as Filenet’s annual revenue before it was acquired by IBM. Consider also that the other ECM vendor revenue includes substantial support dollars, and the SharePoint revenue is for licensing only. Even more impressive is the number of licenses–more than 17,000 companies have purchased 85 million licenses. That is one impressive foothold. Are all 17,000 companies using SharePoint for ECM? Of course not. Many are likely using SharePoint for basic document management and many for Web content management, and a significant number of the licenses are likely dormant or very lightly used.

Indeed, at different times in SharePoint’s product life, Microsoft has had to work hard to establish the value proposition for SharePoint to ensure enough reason for customers to renew their volume licenses. But each version of SharePoint has become more functional and has enjoyed deeper penetration into large organizations. SharePoint 2007 is now a significant ECM platform with a great deal of functionality and well established partnerships with key complementary vendors.

But the exact ways that people are using SharePoint today are not as important as the foothold it already has, and the determination organizations seem to have for making SharePoint work as a platform for myriad applications. Our discussions with users point to exactly this kind of thinking on the part of many organizations–they may have licensed SharePoint for a specific application, such as document sharing, or for a general need, but they are now looking at how the platform can support any number of other applications. This includes ECM applications, including ones with demanding scan and capture requirements.

View our recent webinar on how SharePoint is impacting the ECM market. The webinar is sponsored by KnowledgeLake.

MOSS and Friends: Route 66 through the ECM/BPM Intersection?

There’s no doubt that Microsoft understands the value and opportunity in the ECM/BPM intersection. It is also clear that the roads MOSS will use to get there are not confined to small neighborhoods, hence the reference to the U.S.’ most famous highway.

Microsoft’s significant investments in workflow and business intelligence have been widely reported. I’ll leave the work of dissecting components such as Windows Workflow Foundation, Excel Services, and MOSS BI web parts to resources such as Ziff Davis’ Microsoft Watch and Russ Stalters’ BetterECM blogs as well as Microsoft resources from the SharePoint Product Group and Customer Experience Team (although this one does not show much action since the summer’s LOBi (line-of-business interoperability) announcement.

Blogging over at BPMEnterprise.com, Stalters also has an excellent 3-part series called BPM and Steak: A Great Combo, the latest of which pinpoints MOSS capabilities designed for BPM practitioners. Microsoft’s strategy for full-scale ECM/BPM however, requires somewhat of a “detour” from MOSS and Office 2007 suburbs. The roadmap is evident via multiple, alliance-driven crossroads. Avenues include “Gold Certified” partners such as Bluespring Software, Global 360, Lombardi Software, and Ultimus as well as “Certified” or “Registered” partners such as Savvion and Appian.

Implementing integrations with some of these products does not appear to be fraught with “Exit here” or “In Construction” signposts. (And given all in the “Gold Certified” group are private, one can’t help wondering if there’s an acquisition strategy in the works. I digress…) Rather many are direct and well-embedded crossroads between MOSS and Office 2007, targeted directly at business users.

Case in point: Bluespring’s BPM Suite 4.5, the result of a decidedly Microsoft-centric BPM play that began in 2003. Most interesting to me is the 4.5 focus on “document manipulation,” highlighted multiple times during my briefing with the company. Capabilities include rules-driven analysis, extraction, and dynamic assembly of content from Word, Excel and InfoPath — with PDF thrown in for good measure. Although many ECM players have been doing “ETL for content” for years, this is not common expertise in the BPM market. In a content-centric BPM application such as compliance, this certainly provides some interesting opportunities for aggregated, context-specific reporting.

As I noted in my last ECM-BPM checkpoint, there are multiple road signs (quickly becoming billboards…) that signal technology convergence and deeper integrations between two blurring market segments. Microsoft’s Route 66 strategy is surely one of them.

Bluespring Software Announces BPM Suite 4.5

Bluespring Software announced the general availability of BPM Suite 4.5. Technical highlights include Microsoft Office 2007 integration, WSS 3.0 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 integration, PDF Form support, and SQL reporting services adoption. Expanded Microsoft integrations enable users to dynamically create Excel 2007 files, Word 2007 documents and InfoPath 2007 forms with any data moving throughout the process, including reading from Excel, Word, InfoPath, Adobe PDF files, ODBC-compliant databases and Web Services. In addition, Bluespring Web Parts enable users to embed work list management, process monitoring and reporting inside SharePoint pages as well as trigger processes off of SharePoint events and actions on any SharePoint entity. The release also expands the product’s “in-flight” Process Editing capability, delivering process agility by allowing users to edit or change “in-flight” processes resulting from unexpected business cases without requiring code changes, server restarts or needing to wait for all “in-flight” processes to complete. Bluespring’s BPM Suite is 1 of 2 Microsoft Gold Partners whose software products are being featured in the Microsoft Office 2007 launch kit, provided to attendees at 75 North America launch events.

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