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July 20, 2011

OpenText: BPM integration “is a big job”

Will integrate only where it makes sense

By Jason Stamper

Lubor Ptacek OpenText

Lubor Ptacek, OpenText

OpenText has conceded that bringing together the business process management technologies from its acquisitions of Metastorm and Global 360 with its own workflow technologies is "a big job". But it insisted that it will integrate only where it makes sense for customers, and not force them into large and painful migrations.

Speaking to CBR, Lubor Ptacek, VP strategic marketing at OpenText, said: "Yes, it is a big job, but OpenText has a lot of experience of acquisitions, and it’s one of the things we do better than anyone else. We will make it work for our customers – they don’t care that it is a big job for OpenText. What they care about is that the technology works for them."

Canadian content management firm OpenText announced the acquisition of BPM firm Global 360 on July 13, paying $260m for the Texan firm. The buy came just a few months after OpenText bought another BPM player, Metastorm, in February of this year. To add to the integration challenge, both Metastorm and Global 360 had made a series of acquisitions of their own before they were snapped up by OpenText.

The situation led Forrester analyst Craig Le Clair to remark on his blog: "How do you rationalize the OpenText portfolio while keeping your product marketing and sales teams — not to mention R&D — sane? You now have the Metastorm acquisition competing with Global as a strong Microsoft BPM partner, various legacy OpenText workflow engines, and at least two platforms from Global 360 — one Java (for case management) and one .NET — with plans for unification. There is now an overwhelming number of overlapping products across OpenText’s portfolio, with the inevitable integration and engineering tasks."

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While Ptacek said it is too early to talk about specific integration plans, he batted away the suggestion that the firm would have to abandon at least some of the products in order to streamline its portfolio and concentrate R&D resources on the right areas.

"Abandon is not a word we have in our dictionary," he said. "We don’t abandon customers or technologies. Even where we have done acquisitions and there has been the slightest overlap, we look at that and if there is a way to bring the technologies together without giving customers a painful migration, we will look at that. Maintenance is one of the things that keeps a software business alive and the last thing customers want or we want is to tell customers a technology is no longer alive."

Ptacek repeated the motivation for the Global 360 buy so soon after the Metastorm acquisition, namely that Metastorm was focused on human-centric BPM while Global 360 was a leader in case management, and the two are quite different. But it sees both coming together with its own enterprise content management technology, as, "More and more customers don’t differentiate between ECM and BPM, because more and more content applications are process driven," according to Ptacek.

Forrester’s Le Clair concluded though that, "From the customer’s perspective, it will be a challenge (to put it mildly) to figure out exactly what is going on with these products, and who at OpenText really knows. This one will be interesting to watch."

On the announcement of the Global 360 deal OpenText said it would, "Provide further information regarding the future plans of the combined company when it provides fiscal year-end results on August 10, 2011." But Ptacek said he would be surprised if the company will be in a position to provide much more detail about product integration plans at that time, saying that after an acquisition it usually spends the first 90 days "hashing out roadmaps".

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