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Interwoven and Autonomy – is there a cunning plan ?

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.

5 replies on “Interwoven and Autonomy – is there a cunning plan ?”

If a camel is a horse designed by a committee then 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.”
…how many humps will Interwoven have to shed? I can think of at least three.

EDD has been a big money spinner over the last couple of years and there are a lot of (small) vendors out there, especially in the US. They have thrived on the fact that its difficult for corporations to manage all their data, emails etc. It makes sense to me that if a corporation has it's documents and records in order subsequent litigation, either threatened or real should be easier to manage. It might be that Autonomy may be able to bring out an end-to-end solution but I'm sure that Oracle, IBM and EMC have had their eyes on this market for a while and will not give in easily.

Talking of EMC, as we report later this week in American Legal Technology Insider, EMC has just done a deal with e-discovery specialists Clearwell.

Well, one thing we learned at LegalTech this year is that most vendors expect a shakedown of the EDD market in the next 12-to-24 months, leaving a handful of big players as opposed to the hordes filling the booths this year. With so many vendors, it’s clear the competition is fierce. I don't follow this end of the business. I'm at the end: litigation/search and review. And there the level of competition among the software providers is fierce – they are putting a lot of time and money into creating products that make them stand out from the rest – and ultimately that means more accurate and efficient means of conducting searches as well as more tools to monitor and control costs (including performance metrics). And they seek acquisition to get there faster, if they can.

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I was interested to read that Osborne Clarke were 'comfortable' with the potential replacement of IUS index engine from Vivisimo with the Autonmy IDOL one as at the Legal Technology “Firm of the Future” briefing on the 22nd April, jointly held with Interwoven, my development manager was told that they were replacing Autonomy which expensive and had high overheads (lots of effort required) in terms of getting the best out of it.
Interesting to see how things transpire with their recent annoucement too as I understand that Nathan is part of Chris Bull's management team at the new out sourcing company, game keeper turned poacher?

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