I’m hardly hot of the press with this one, for which, apologies. (My initial reaction on Twitter came down to this). My excuse is that vendors never consult me on the timings of their acquisition announcements, and so sometimes it turns out I’m busy with other things ;-)
So, having set out to purchase Metastorm in February, Open Text has followed up less than 6 months later with the acquisition of Global 360. It’s not much of a secret that Global 360 was looking to be acquired; the hiring of some key webMethods executives in 2008 signalled the start of a concerted effort to shape the company up for a sale. Still, it caught many industry observers (including me) by surprise to see the company follow so closely in the footsteps of another BPM technology vendor and be snapped up by Open Text. Open Text’s VP of Strategic Marketing Lubor Ptacek says there’s a simple reason: rather than the acquisition of Global 360 being due to the fact that Metastorm turned out to be deficient in some way, the acquisitions were both planned in parallel—it’s just that one completed before the other.
Comments attributed to Ptacek indicate that Open Text sees the technology of Global 360 and Metastorm as complementary, calling out Global 360 in particular for its Case360 offering, but I think that’s a little disingenuous. There are certainly complementary elements to the portfolios (for example Metastorm has significant Enterprise Architecture and Business Process Analysis functionality in its portfolio; whereas Global 360 has Case Management functionality that Metastorm doesn’t have)—but there’s also significant duplication in the key area of BPM technology.
In initial comments to analysts Open Text claimed that the Global 360 acquisition, combined with the Metastorm acquisition, would enable it to not only double down on its BPM market penetration initiative—extending its ECM portfolio into the complementary areas of BPM and Case Management quickly, at least at the surface level. At the same time, it was also claimed that the two acquisitions would strengthen Open Text’s Microsoft platform play. This is curious, because Global 360′s case management functionality isn’t currently available on the Microsoft platform—it’s written in Java.
The wrinkle is that Global 360 is part-way through an exercise to rebuild its Case360 platform on .NET. And that’s important, because it’s another sizeable technology development and market delivery challenge atop the integration and delivery challenges that Open Text has just bought into by purchasing two BPM technology players.
Of course with Open Text saying we’re going to need to wait 3–6 months before any kind of detailed roadmap emerges it’s way to soon to say how this will turn out with any confidence: even the high-level company reporting structure hasn’t been finalised (something I find strange, having participated in post-acquisition analyst calls done by many other IT vendors in the past).
Open Text says that it plans to keep existing Metastorm and Global 360 roadmaps in place, which works as a short-term holding pattern. In the medium term, though, I hope Open Text will communicate a credible plan that supports existing customers of Metastorm and Global 360 while showing they can also craft a vision for how something bigger and better can be delivered by pooling knowledge and resources. I’ll be watching with interest.