We had an interesting phone interview with Neil Araujo, the new CEO of Autonomy iManage last week. Araujo was one of the original founders (and one of the original software authors) of iManage Inc back in 1995. Since then he has held a number of senior roles within both iManage and Interwoven – as well as taking time out to attend business school – before taking over the hot-seat as CEO on 2nd October this year.

Araujo says he believes one of the reasons why the acquisition by Autonomy has been so problem-free is that both Autonomy and iManage have “a similar culture, are both technology driven and share a common set of values”. This, he says, has not only resulted in a smooth integration of the Autonomy/iManage products but also has been achieved without any slippage on the core iManage product development roadmap.

But what about iManage's competitors and the continuing background buzz that one day Microsoft Sharepoint will emerge as a real challenger to iManage Worksite in the DMS space?

According to Araujo, while competitors seem content to merely add “fresh bells and whistles” to their DMS platforms, the addition of the Autonomy dimension has been a game-changing development that allows iManage to concentrate on the management of content in its broadest sense. And by 'broadest sense' Araujo points to the fact that not only have volumes of data increased significantly since 1995 but the nature of this content has changed, with documents frequently comprising less than 20% of the total content under management.

One area the business is now looking at is harnessing the Autonomy IDOL engine to help “better understand the meaning of documents” so rules can be introduced to automate more aspects of the document management process, such as automatically filing emails against the appropriate client matters.

“It is important,” says Araujo, “to recognise that IDOL is more than a search engine. It is actually an information processing platform – it has a potentially proactive role, a digital assistant that can drive productivity and efficiency to whole new frontiers. This takes iManage into the era of meaning based computing.”

In addition to efficiency gains, Araujo says these new developments have huge potential for helping firms deal with compliance issues by automating rules such as encryption – which in turn provides the addition of a risk management function.

“The bottom line,” says Araujo, “is we will see a more comprehensive approach to content management. There are greater volumes of data to deal with. There are new economic drivers. There is the whole risk management/e-discovery dimension. The market recognises we have this vision and are now moving the traditional DMS industry in a new direction.”

As for Sharepoint? Araujo says that while a lot of iManage users run Sharepoint as a portal, it is basically a collaborative tool – like Lotus Notes – and, as such, contains an uncontrollable element that makes it inappropriate in an environment where corporate governance and document lifecycle management is now so important. “Sharepoint,” says Araujo, “is like a Swiss Army Knife, it has a lot of useful tools in it but you wouldn't want to use it to cook a meal.”