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Reactions to IBM-FileNet

Blog: Method & Style (Bruce Silver)

Unlike Sandy, I’m not “totally speechless,” but on balance pretty surprised by today’s announcement that IBM is buying FileNet for $1.6 Billion in cash. It’s really about enterprise content management, but there are BPM implications. The ECM vendor landscape has been consolidating for several years now. There used to be 3 top-tier vendors — IBM, FileNet, and EMC — so now there are just 2. Usually M&A in the ECM space is about filling in a missing slot in the portfolio, like records management, imaging, media asset management, rights management…

This is different. IBM and FileNet both got started in CM via document imaging back in the 80s, and “fixed content” is still the strongest component of their respective portfolios, although FileNet tends to emphasize production imaging and workflow, while IBM emphasizes database and search architecture. EMC, the other competitor, has ramped up its own imaging and production workflow capabilities in the past year with considerable success (see my 2006 BPMS Report on EMC Documentum Process Suite when it goes up next week), so perhaps IBM is feeling the heat from that. Or beyond that, seeing the next generation of content management competition coming from database/infrastructure providers like Oracle and Microsoft, IBM is just bulking up.

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