Autonomy Acquires Interwoven

It was a usual hectic day at work when I read about this sudden interesting development of Interwoven to be acquired by Autonomy. You can read more about it at CMS Watch and CMS Wire.

I felt a bit sad – Interwoven was one of the few pure play CMS vendors and pioneered many of the Content Management concepts. Okay, so the products will still be there but you never know how they evolve in the context of a new setup. A lot of attention  is now on Vignette, the other major CMS vendor. I wonder, why is no one talking of Fatwire?

Lee Dallas calls this a consolidation in a different direction. Most others in this space have been with infrastructure vendors or with other related vendor. So in that sense, this brings in a unique differentiation for both these vendors. What could be interesting in this context is what now happens to Autonomy’s relationships with other CMS vendors. Many CMS vendors had integrations and OEM relationships with Autonomy and those will probably get redefined now. Similarly, Interwoven’s partnership with other search vendors (like FAST) will probably also get reviewed.

Even though Autonomy is known more for its search products, it also has offerings for BPM (Cardiff), Records Management (Meridio) and Digital Assets (Virage). So it would be interesting to see how and when overlaps are rationalized with Interwoven’s MediaBin, WorkSite and other related offerings.

In other interesting news this week, Alfresco released the final version of Alfresco 3 Labs, which among other things has Web Studio, a designer tool to build web application. But that is a topic of another post.

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Goodbye 2008, Welcome 2009

Okay so another year comes to an end and while we welcome the new year, here’s a look at some of the themes (in a random order) of the year gone by that might have an impact on the Content Technologies next year.

Verticalized Applications

Content Management Systems as horizontal solutions have been there for long and most known vendors provide similar features. The industry however is asking for more domain specific solutions built on standard CMS repositories. Based on this demand and the fact that this provides a differentiation to CMS vendors, I hope to see more and more domain or vertical specific solutions like Loan Origination, Claims Processing and other similar solutions/accelerators from many CMS vendors. Also, with the slowdown in economy, it is easier to sell a domain solution than a pure horizontal solution.

Portal and Content Consolidation

Many enterprises struggle with multitude of applications doing overlapping functionality. Organizations have multiple CMS repositories and many portals. This often leads to duplication of content varied user experience and huge costs. Because of huge cost pressures, many organizations have been considering consolidation of their content applications.

This will lead to following benefits:

  • Reduced Hardware Infrastructure as you don’t need those 5 different ECM repositories
  • Reduced employee costs as you do not need skilled people across 5 different portal servers
  • Standardized processes and hence increased productivity
  • Reduced employee training costs
  • Unified User Experience
  • Reduced Integration, Maintenance and Support Costs

I believe this could be a very important way to reduce and control costs as well as bringing in some standardization. So many organizations would start focused initiatives to consolidate their existing applications.

Open Source

Open Source Content Management and Portal solutions have matured quite a bit. Because of this and the fact that there is cost pressure on everyone, enterprises that would not even consider Open Source solutions are now more favorable towards them. They are becoming open to experimenting with technologies that are generally not considered *enterprisey*.  Many of the open source products are being tracked by waves and quadrants of major analysts and  that reflects a huge change. This is also good for the Open Source vendors because many enterprises use these analysts’ reports for shortlisting.  Many open source products have also released commercial versions and that is another reason that gives these vendors a foot hold within enterprises who did not want to use these citing lack of support options.

Another factor that encourages the use of Open Source products is that people want to quickly build “informal” applications which many commercial products can not do well. There are many popular Open Source (and free) products that do certain things much better.

Although, initial cost could reduce by using Open Source, organizations should carefully look at the impact over a longer horizon and should consider Open Source as another alternative in the market place. They should select Open Source based on overall fitment to their requirements and not just make a decision based on initial licensing cost.

Web 2.0

Widgets and Gadgets have been popular for quite sometime. Some products had gadgets much before portlet spec. I am sure many people have seen examples of counters, ad banners etc which are essentially widgets only. However, there is a considerable interest now in using these within the enterprises for more sophisticated portal like applications.

Currently, most social networking is horizontal – you become a member of a social network, I become one and we write scraps on each other. What next?  I believe Vertical Social Networking is becoming popular.  Some areas where we already see this or have potential are in the areas of Jobs, Real Estate and Classifieds. After all, It is easier to buy an old laptop from a contact’s contact rather than an unknown person who’s advertised in classifieds.

In order to reduce cost, many enterprises, especially those that require product support want to leverage the communities for customer support. They want people to help each other and come to their support only as a last resort. What this means is increasing use of tools that enable collaboration – wikis for example. Many enterprises are using these communities not just for support but also as a way to generate revenues.

Some organizations are also using web 2.0 as a means to Knowledge Management. Instead of regular process oriented KM which forces people to contribute, they want to use mechanisms that encourage people who in turn want to contribute. This is a huge shift – people don’t like contributing if they are forced to do it but are likely to contribute if they enjoy doing it. This also means a shift from “control and process” to “informality and accessibility”.

In spite of all this, I still think how to use Web 2.0 within the enterprise is still not very clear to many organizations and there is a huge scope for improvement. One of the reasons people cite is that workforce is used to applications that became successful on the consumer Internet and want to have same kind of experience for enterprise applications but they need to be very careful. Here’s a nice post by Vilas.

Alternate Delivery Models

There is more acceptance for SaaS based offerings. This is especially true for applications that are not business mission critical. Businesses are experimenting with SaaS based providers because this saves them dependence on their internal IT apart from other benefits like faster time to market, no capital expenditure, low risk and so on. Along with this,  alternate pricing models are also being looked at. Some examples are pay per document, pay per loan, pay per claim etc.

Standards

The portlet spec 2.0 or JSR 286 was released. Although the portlet standards (JSR 286 and JSR 168) have been relatively successful in terms of adoption and support, the content repository standard, JSR 170 has not been that popular. Meanwhile, vendors are collaborating on technologies that will help customers reuse existing investments. As an example, many vendors have come up with CMIS. Okay this is not a standard yet but is possibly in that direction. A standard like this is very much needed and hopefully CMIS will achieve what JSR-170/283 did not.

I would also hope that a standard emerges for Gadgets/Widgets.

Site Management and Personalization

Traditionally Content Management was decoupled from Site Management. However, marketing and business people now want more control and there is increasing convergence of Content Management and Site Management. This essentially means better user experience, rich and dynamic sites. This also means features like personalization are making a come back. This has also resulted because of cheap bandwidth and better client side technologies

Document Services

Document Composition and Generation is becoming part of mainstream ECM. There have been a few partnerships as well as mergers in this space. Related terms in this space are Document Output Management and Forms Management.

This was probably the last post of this year. Thanks for reading the blog and here’s wishing you a great year ahead.

Goodbye 2007, Welcome 2008

2007 has been a good year for portal and content technologies. Here’s a summary of some themes that became popular and will probably be discussed in 2008 as well.

Web 2.0: There’s nothing new about it as we’ve been seeing the impact of web 2.0 for quite sometime now. What’s new is the fact that Web 2.0  is also increasingly becoming popular behind the firewalls.  Many products have incorporated web 2.0 features and they are not limited to support for AJAX  front-ends. Many portals already integrate with Google Gadgets, Alfresco announced integration with Facebook which itself is getting a lot of attention.

SaaS: Software as a Service has become quite popular in some technology horizontals like CRM. It has now started getting noticed in the CMS space as well. Interwoven and Fatwire entered the SaaS space by acquiring other companies whereas salesforce.com, an established SaaS vendor has also entered the ECM space. There are many existing vendors like Spring CM and Xythos. With salesforce.com getting into this space, along with indications of entry of more established ECM vendors, technology buyers will have another option.  

Standards: There have been a lot of discussions in blogosphere about standards or the lack thereof. Although, there are many benefits of following standards, there are often trade-offs to be made and it may not be that a “Standards approach is always better”. We must bring a balance between the two approaches as there are important trade-offs to be made. And i still think JSR-170 (or its next version JSR-283) have not been as popular as they should be.

Open Source: There has been an increased activity in the Open Source Portal and Content Management Products space. More and more people are using Open Source as a viable alternative to commercial products. In some scenarios, products like Alfresco, Magnolia, OpenCms and Liferay can give their commercial counterparts a serious run for their money.

Convergence: The lines between WCM, Portal, Web Analytics, Search etc are blurring. Many CIOs are asking for products that can do everything instead of buying multiple point solutions. However, more than technology, I think its the way an organization is structured which decides how easy or difficult is it to achieve convergence.

Google: We can’t complete this discussion without mentioning Google, can we? There are talks of a CMS by Google which already is an established player in associated areas of search, analytics, portal and collaboration.

Okay this was probably the last post of 2007. Here’s wishing you all a very happy new year.

Random thoughts on Convergence

Next week, I will be at AIIM, participating in a panel on Convergence moderated by Tony Byrne. Here are some of the things that I’ve been thinking about convergence. They are not in any particular order (as the title of this post suggests) but are meant to generate some points and take take the discussion forward before the conference starts: Continue reading

Goodbye 2006, Welcome 2007

2006 has been an exciting year for content technologies. Based on some of the interesting happenings, the following themes (in no particular order) have emerged that might have an impact on this space in coming years:

  1. Standards: or the lack of them was evident. Although portal standards (JSR-168, JSR-286) have done well, content management standards (JSR-170, JSR-283) have not done that well. Alfresco, Magnolia, Day and eXo support JSR-170 and there have been occasional talks of JSR-170 connectors for other products (e.g., BEA supports this using Day’s connectors). However, I think the acceptance has been below my expectations. Continue reading

Is Google closer to being a CMS player?

Google recently announced the launch of Google Page Creator (as usual it’s in Beta). So, by using this tool, people can create static web sites using an intuitive AJAX based interface. Although it’s simple and easy, it’s not something that is not there already. Geocities and Tripod have provided this for ages.
One thing that I noticed though is  Continue reading