IBM buys FileNet

I did not see this coming (thanks to Elizabeth at ebizQ for tipping me off). [Disclosure: FileNet is a customer, and I’m a shareholder. I still didn’t see it coming.]

Back in 2000-01, when I worked for FileNet as their BPM evangelist, there were always rumours swirling around about someone bigger buying them out. Usually Oracle was named as the potential suitor, but never IBM as they were too directly competitive, particularly on the content management side. From FileNet’s press release (IBM doesn’t have one out yet as of 9am Eastern), the plan is to:

  • Combine FileNet’s operations with IBM’s Content Management business in the Information Management unit. Since this is the area where they compete most directly, I suspect that this means that FileNet’s content management could eventually be subsumed into IBM’s Content Manager product.
  • Integrate IBM’s BPM and Service Oriented Architecture technologies with the FileNet platform. This is an area where FileNet provides a quite different and possibly complementary product to IBM, so I think that FileNet’s BPM product could actually survive, get properly integrated with the IBM integration substructure, and become the product that it should have been years ago.

These are only my speculations as an outsider; I have no inside information and knew nothing of the transaction before it hit the wires this morning.

All in all, I’m still totally speechless.

3 thoughts on “IBM buys FileNet

  1. We at Lombardi believe that IBM is focused on their Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions. The IBM announcement discussed integrating their BPM and Service Oriented Architecture technologies with the FileNet platform, mention of FileNet’s BPM product was noticeably absent. We think FileNet decided to throw in the towel because they have not been able to execute on BPM – just look at leading analyst opinions from this year. This is a positive development for the BPM leaders like Lombardi, since we view it as yet another opportunity for us gain further market share in the rapidly growing BPM category.

  2. Rod, I’ll ignore the totally self-serving remarks in your comment 😉 but I do tend to agree with you: the conference call that I was on really downplayed BPM and referred to FileNet’s BPM as “content-centric”, which gives you a good idea of how it’s perceived, regardless of the actual capabilities. I think that this is a great opportunity for the mid-sized BPM firms such as Lombardi to make a play, since FileNet BPM sales are sure to stumble until the final strategy is clarified significantly.

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