Autonomy has its work cut out with Interwoven

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Autonomy has its work cut out with Interwoven

Autonomy's acquisition of enterprise content management (ECM) firm Interwoven last week has been broadly welcomed by the industry, but some observers remain sceptical about how well the two product sets will be integrated.

Ben Richmond, founder of ECM consultancy The Content Group, said that the US$775m move represents a solid acquisition for Autonomy, given Interwoven's current healthy state.

To underline the point, Interwoven reported record fourth-quarter profits of US$69.8m, an increase of 11 per cent on the fourth quarter of 2007.

Total revenues for the year ended 31 December 2008 reached US$260.3m, up 15 per cent from 2007.

"If you bring together effective search and content management, it brings together the idea of 'findability' and making your content structured, which delivers what ECM promises," said Richmond.

"Autonomy has already bought Meridio, who were strong in the records management space. With Interwoven, it's all about the firm becoming a mainstream ECM player."

However, Richmond warned buyers that it can take years for technology to be fully integrated into the products of the acquiring company.

"Microsoft and Fast are taking a long time to bring [products] together, and Open Text is having the same problems bringing RedDot into the fold," he said.

"End users have to look beyond the badge and be mindful of the technology."

Ian Howells, chief marketing officer at open source ECM firm Alfresco, voiced similar concerns, noting that Autonomy's Meridio and Interwoven's WorkSite product sets contain some overlapping features.

"The last decade has shown us that, when ECM companies expand their suites, new products either take a long time to get integrated or never do," he said.

"Overlapping products become orphan children starved of resource and left to die."

Ovum analyst Madan Sheina wrote in a recent research note that Interwoven customers are likely to benefit from Autonomy's Idol technology, which could give them a better understanding of the business context of content stored in their repositories.

However, he warned that there is some "serious integration work" ahead in combining Idol with Interwoven's content management technology.

"Fortunately Autonomy has a good track record in integration through the work it did on the Zantaz and Meridio product lines," Sheina added.

But Mark Bridger, president of international operations at web content management firm FatWire, suggested that Interwoven's web business has an uncertain future owing to Autonomy's stated desire to buy Interwoven for its legal and compliance-focused products.
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