Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch has conducted a robust defence of his firm’s agreement to acquire Interwoven in an exclusive interview with CIO UK magazine.
Speaking on the same day that Autonomy announced the $775m deal, Lynch said the move should be seen as more of an extension of the firm’s shift towards serving the governance, risk and compliance market rather than an embrace of traditional enterprise content management (ECM).
“We’re a great believer that the traditional model of content management will change because of this Managed In Place thing,” he said, referring to Autonomy’s model for automatically managing information in real time without manually relocating data, for example to a dedicate records management system.
“The situation where people think ‘this document is important so we’ll tage it’ won’t work anymore.”
The Interwoven acquisition is just the latest in a spate of M&A activity over the last five years that has fundamentally reshaped the sector. Lynch said that of the other ECM players, Vignette “is broken and we weren’t looking for a bargain” and that Open Text was “interesting” but did not offer such an obvious fit as Interwoven which has deep hooks into the legal sector.
Lynch also played down suggestions that by buying Interwoven, Autonomy would queer its pitch in offering core technology to other ECM firms.
“If anybody were to throw their toys out of the pram, it would be their customers who would suffer,” he said.
Autonomy’s recent success has been driven in large part by the mania for corporate governance that has itself been caused by waves of rules and regulations created by governments, quangos, industries and watchdogs. Lynch predicted that yet more regulations will force organisations to do more to track changes in documents and harmonise activities for the needs of international markets.
However, Ian Howells, chief marketing officer of open-source ECM firm Alfresco, said that Autonomy customers could see product development changes:
"It will be interesting to see what Autonomy plan to do with the overlapping product sets of Interwoven's WorkSite and Automomy's Meridio. No doubt their respective install bases will be bracing themselves for potential impact on product roadmaps."
Howells also doubted Autonomy’s ability to integrate Interwoven’s code base.
"There is a common phrase ‘a camel is a horse designed by a committee’. Well if that is the case an ECM camel is a suite built through acquisition. The problem is that you get an extra hump you don't need or worse still two humps that do the same thing and one hump has to go.”