One of the hot topics around the bars and drinking dens at LegalTech New York was a discussion of the reasons behind Autonomy's planned acquisition of Interwoven. Despite attempts by various lawyers to get shareholders actions off the ground to fight the bid (a tactic now pretty standard on the US A&M scene) the general view is that in its present form Interwoven is too small to survive as an independent and that a merger or acquisition was inevitable sooner or later. But why Autonomy? And why now?

One theory doing the rounds is that Autonomy actually wanted to buy the e-discovery business Discovery Mining – and when this was bought by Interwoven in July 2008, Autonomy took the next logical step of buying Interwoven to get at the Discovery Mining business. (Autonomy, it should be noted, already has a strong litigation support/e-discovery business through its Zantaz/Aungate/Introspect operations.) However… having targetted Interwoven, Autonomy then realised the company also included a really useful document management business in the WorkSite family of products. Not only could this take Autonomy into new business areas (the mid-sized business DMS sector) but it also had the potential to widen the scope of Autonomy's e-discovery business.

The graphic shows the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) which is widely used by the lit support industry to position its various products and services. While most vendors appear on the scene from the preservation & collections stage, heading right, the earlier stages – particularly the information management stage of getting your ESI (electronically stored information) house in order, tends to be less clear as it involves dealing with an organisation's existing office automation systems. But, if Autonomy were to add a DMS to its product portfolio, this would neatly address the information management stage of EDRM and give the company a cradle-to-the-grave document life-cycle management, litigation readiness and e-discovery platform. Maybe.

Of course there still remains the issue of records management – Interwoven has its RecordsManager product while Autonomy has Merido. There is also the matter of the universal search engines – current betting is that Autonomy may offer a 'lite' version of its IDOL engine to replace the Interwoven Vivisimo offering, thereby avoiding imposing the burden of the full IDOL 7 system on users. And, we're also hearing rumours that post acquisition the Interwoven name may fade from the scene and be replaced by a return of the iManage brand for the DMS product suite – or not, as the case may be.