Autonomy & HP’s Autoimmune Response

As I reflect on last year and look to 2013 (post to follow) here are a few year end thoughts on how the HP/Autonomy mess plays out. Autonomy and HP both had gathered an interesting collection of acquisitions in the the content, records, web and portal space before this questionable buy One thing two decades in business have taught me is that large organizations can be brutally vindictive when their honor is in question and their survival is challenged by a troubled acquisition.

Some degree of transplant rejection risk occurs in every major acquisition. From personal experience it is foolish to deny that figuring out how to work effectively across divisions with sometimes opposing objectives is hard. The difference is a commitment to the health of the whole by all the parts, good management and trust. With the HP Autonomy deal it appears two of the three were in question and there may have been undisclosed fundamental health issues with the donor. The write down and rumors make everything about Autonomy’s business suspect, not just outside but more critically in the eyes of the HP rank and file.

Without trust the body will reject it.

In the coming months I predict the rank and file of HP will more visibly distance themselves from anything remotely resembling Autonomy. Slowly at first, but then accelerating over time Interwoven, IDOL and anything else related to that market will be starved of everything from R&D dollars to talent. Even Tower (a pre Autonomy purchase) will pay a price because it is in the same market segment. Ultimately HP’s ability to compete and or even be taken seriously in the space will suffer.

I don’t have any real insight into their internal organization and I’ll grant the direct impact may be mitigated by how isolated the division is from the rest. The inevitable infighting I predict though will make the external image problem worse in the end. In the next few months watch for a flood of talented people in the market as those that can make for the door and others are thrown out when the funding dries up. Sadly a ton of experience and innovation will be lost to the ECM community in the process.

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