Pretty much every „ECM expert“ is giving us guidance and advice these days on the recent OpenText acquisition. fme group has been working in the ECM industry for roughly 18 years. We do consulting around platforms like Documentum (ECD), SharePoint and Alfresco. I will refer to the “Dell EMC ECD” business as Documentum. I never liked the acronyms that were used for the Documentum brand, anyway ;-). We have been partnering with Documentum for 17 years. Our focus industries are Life Science and Industrial Manufacturing. Across all industries we are well known for our migration expertise. We move content from pretty much every major ECM system to pretty much every other major ECM system, including OpenText and Documentum (> see our products director’s thoughts on this). fme group has seen quite a bit of the ECM universe. Here are my 2 cents on the recent OpenText acquisition – written after a two days and two nights quick assessment – so have mercy on me 😉
When > Bloomberg announced early April this year that EMC planned to sell Documentum we started to think about potential buyers and evaluated the opportunities and threats. The OpenText scenario was on our list, but it was one of the most unlikely scenarios. We felt the portfolio overlap was quite strong and other alternatives – like a VC buying – seemed to be more attractive. But now OpenText it is and after a second, closer look it seems to make quite some sense and the overlap is well, let us call it “manageable”:
Documentum can help OpenText by bringing really great technology to the table:
- Probably the best content server in the industry for content, records and business process management. Really reliable technology. It is out of question there is a big overlap with OpenText here.
- InfoArchive – a very solid unified archive that generates great ROI for live archiving and app decommissioning. Covering structured and unstructured content archiving. No overlap.
- Captiva – an industry grade capture platform. Overlap, but Captiva is the more solid technology.
- The life science solution suite – covering content intensive processes from
R & D to publishing. No overlap. Documentum is the 800-pound gorilla in this game.
- The oil and gas solution suite – covering the needs of EPCs and OOs. Documentum’s solution seems to be much stronger here – needs some further analysis. Same applies to the other existing vertical solutions from Documentum around healthcare, finance and government.
- ApplicationExtender – a strong and modern mid-market ECM solution suite. Overlap with eDocs, but eDocs, the former DOCSOpen, is mainly strong in the legal industry and the UX seems somewhat outdated.
- LEAP – still in its infancy, but the first real cloud driven ECM concept in the industry, reaching far beyond the capabilities of box, google drive and the likes. Strong potential. No overlap.
OpenText – besides the classic ECM business – is strong in web content management, customer experience management, analytics, archiving and ECM for SAP – areas where Documentum does not really play a strong role or a role at all. Apart from this, OpenText started to spin a story around enterprise information management and the meaning of this piece in the digital transformation puzzle. They are one of the few ECM/EIM companies that can really explain what digital transformation means and what role they play in this process – like! Documentum’s product suite will profit from this clear positioning in the digital world.
What would make sense from a communication and portfolio perspective over the next months and years?
- Until the deal closes: During the quiet period there won’t be much communication around the acquisition. However, it is really important to make the Documentum customers understand what the game plan will be. If the Documentum team cannot communicate a clear story, many deals will not be closed due to the unclear situation. Q3/Q4 would be really, really tough: „What will happen with Documentum, will it go away soon?“, „Is my investment safe, or do I have to migrate in a year from now – again?“ Action item for Documentum/OpenText: Tell customers and partners what the approximate game plan will be! A strategy must be in place already, otherwise the acquisition would not have happened, I guess.
- Right after the deal closed: Communicate what will happen with the combined portfolio. What is here to stay and what will have to go, combined with a clear roadmap? What should definitely stay from Documentum: InfoArchive, the life science solution suite (plus, maybe, some other vertical solutions by ECD) and LEAP. The two content servers should coexist until the next unified server is available together with a clear migration path for content AND applications. I would build the future unified content server on top of the Documentum server – but I am somewhat biased. If this roadmap together with the migration path is not clearly understood, customers will start to look at other ECM vendors – and there are still many choices. Documentum customers have invested millions in the customization of their ECM applications and they want to know how their investment will be protected over the years. Same applies to Documentum partners. Great investments in training, sales and marketing. Partners want to understand how they can secure their investments as well.
- Over the next years: Build the unified content server which is the default repository for most of the ECM solutions and integrations available. Make it cloud ready. Maybe in the foreseeable future, LEAP will become the multi-tenant, cloud based content server. Whatever the plan is, make sure your customers and partners know about it. Furthermore, continue to explain to customers how ECM/EIM fits into their overall digital transformation strategy. This is key for staying relevant and visible in the overall digitization discussion.
OpenText together with Documentum has been dealt a great hand and if they play it well they can even more dominate the ECM/EIM market in the future. There is a lot of work to do – looking forward to succeeding together!
Dirk Bode, CEO fme group