The announcement that Open Text bought Informative Graphics came to me as bit of a surprise. Not because it didn’t make sense but because it took so long for someone to pick them up. Well it was a little odd that it was OpenText considering they purchased Spicer back in 2008.
Informative Graphics, Brava has been one of the hidden gems in the ECM partner ecosystem. Brava gives the ECM community an option instead of Adobe PDF. But more than that it also added the ability to measure distances within the viewer for CAD documents and advanced redaction capabilities, by streaming in redaction. In addition to Open Text, Brava is integrated with Alfresco, Documentum, IBM FileNet, IBM Content Manager and Microsoft SharePoint. But what does this mean next?
In the near term, this really does become a game changer for these vendors for product or partner strategy. Adobe has always seen its PDF technology as an entryway into Enterprise Content Management. Rumors of Adobe entering the ECM market has kept most vendors from adopting a PDF only strategy. Brava has been the best at making that possible with it’s focus on developing the best PDF competitor on the market. Alfresco, Documentum, IBM, and Microsoft all lost their independent vendor-neutral viewer platform. (See update below). The next step is up to Open Text.
In one hand it would be nice to see Open Text maintain vendor neutrality with Brava. If they are looking for Informative Graphics to bring revenue, what a better way to do this than with multiple vendors selling your product. They even state such in the press release, “Post-acquisition, OpenText is looking forward to growing the relationship with its new ECM, Engineering Solutions and eDiscovery partners and their customers.” But communication will need to happen quickly and openly if this is to be the case.
This story has been played before. Autonomy had offered search across many ECM platforms but this all changed when they bought Interwoven and Zantaz. Autonomy stated that this was to bolster the search and eDiscovery products. But their partners saw the acquisition of a competitor as moves to become a competitor. I don’t remember hearing much about this strategy from Autonomy after the initial press release
In this current situation, the former partner is now owned by a competitor. Is it possible? Sure but it’s all about communication. In fact in the early days of an acquisition everything is about communication. Once the press release is out you’re able to talk a little more publicly about what’s happening. A good communication plan has executives talking to top customers about what you can say on the acquisition. That should include talking to key partners, especially those that are “sell through” partners. We may see the results of those conversations in the coming months.
One thing for sure in either case it will be a mixed approach. Some of the vendors may stay and some may move on. To the end users, this means that about two years from now you will be hearing about a new viewer technology from the vendor. One things for sure, there a lot of product management teams talking about Brava today that were probably taking them for granted just last week.
(1/8/15) A friend pointed out to me that I missed IBM’s acquisition of Daeja back in September. This would leave EMC Documentum without an independent viewer strategy. Snowbound has the last major independent viewer product. VirtualViewer integrates with Alfresco, EMC Documentum, IBM Filenet, and Microsoft SharePoint. Of course Microsoft has it’s built in Office viewing capabilities and Alfresco can reach out to the Open Source community.