The Battle of TLAs: BPM is Transforming ECM

  • February 2, 2011
  • Scott
  • 11 Comments

OpenText is buying Metastorm.  As soon as I saw this announcement, I could guess what transpired.  At first glance, Metastorm has some assets that don’t really fit with the OpenText direction as I’ve understood it (in the recent past, OpenText bought Vignette, formerly a content management powerhouse in Austin).

But if you follow the content management space, you might be aware that in general, the ECM vendors are targeting BPM as a way to stay relevant to their IT and Business buyers.  It is about wallet-share and mind-share.  But there’s more than just the general trend, there are specific data points to look at:

  • IBM bought Filenet, along with a BPM software vendor (Lombardi, our coverage under the link).
  • EMC owns Documentum. I‘m not aware of a BPM product in their portfolio, but now that all the content management companies seem to be paired up with bigger vendors, it creates some pressure on the remaining players in the space. Looks like they have their own BPMS as well.
  • Alfresco has sponsored the Activiti project – an open source BPMS, started by the leaders of the jBPM effort, which has been getting traction and is already in GA.  Activiti is already a key to Alfresco’s value proposition.

I think OpenText was feeling a need to round out its portfolio and the options in the BPM world are a bit more limited than they were a few years ago.  Metastorm has some good product assets, however, and I expect OpenText will find new ways to leverage them, and it will help them stay relevant.

As a BPM services vendor – we see a lot of BPM projects that involve documents, and managing processes relating to key documentation assets.  There’s clearly an overlap at a project or solution level.  But I have to admit I liked the more old-school approach of having clean implementation and interfaces for document management systems, rather than baking the two products into a single offering with a more “UI-driven” integration.  Having said that, the UI-driven integration of ECM and BPM is clearly going to make it easier to build hybrid process solutions.

Side Note:  I can see BPM capabilities being rolled into other products in other horizontal and vertical niches, and improving the value proposition of those products.  That future is coming.

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