It was an announcement that came as a shock to the market and the ramifications will take time to work out. No, we’re not talking about Brexit, but Tikit’s announcement that it has entered into a worldwide partnership with cloud-based document management system provider NetDocuments, which was just slightly overshadowed two days later by the EU referendum.

Tikit, which has a longstanding relationship with DMS market leader iManage, has entered into a full global partnership with NetDocuments, to include sales, implementation and support across its global network. It will span Europe and the APAC region, as well as the United States.

It is being billed by Tikit, which accounts for around 7% of iManage’s EMEA revenue, as another string to its bow, fitting in with its modus operandi of offering clients cutting edge products and customer choice.

At the time of the announcement, Tikit’s CEO Katherine Ainley told Legal IT Insider: “It’s quite clear that cloud technology is at a tipping point and we are seeing compelling need for more breadth in this space.

“We pride ourselves in looking at our customers differently; in looking at their ecosystem and building a partnership with them and looking for the right solution. This is about finding the right solutions and taking that holistic view.”

Once the market had got over the surprise of the announcement – you’d have to live in a cave to be unaware of the rivalry between NetDocuments and iManage – most people seemed to broadly agree. One IT director at a major international law firm said: “At first I thought ‘wow’ but it’s around offering solutions and a choice to the client depending on what they want.”

The CTO of one Tikit partner said: “This announcement isn’t surprising, if I was Tikit I would want to resell NetDocuments.”

Post its management buyout from HP in July 2015 iManage is still finding its way in its relationships with its partners. Nonethelesss, Tikit’s announcement was a particularly bitter pill, given that it coincides with some long-awaited positive feedback on iManage’s own cloud offering. One attendee at iManage’s ConnectLive user conference said: “All the feedback that came out of the iManage conference was extremely positive. If Tikit was going to do this they should have done it 18 months ago, before iManage fully got its cloud offering off the ground.”

iManage issued a statement at the time of the announcement, which included a sentence from Ainley saying: “We will continue to actively promote iManage across the market. We have no plans to proactively target our iManage customers to migrate them to NetDocuments.” 

In a further statement to Legal IT Insider, general manager Geoff Hornsby said: “We have been assured by Simon [Hill] and Katherine [Ainley] that they have no plans to sell against iManage and in fact they expect us now to expand our reach within Tikit and jointly sell into the midmarket sector and we look forward to that opportunity.”

This assurance may well ensure the future success of the unusual tripartite arrangement. If Tikit leverages NetDocuments’ SaaS model for its smaller law firm clients, particularly those that use P4W, which doesn’t have DMS capability, one can see it working.

However, the BigLaw IT director quoted above, who is an iManage client said: “I always look to market and we watch with interest the NetDocuments piece. If I was going to look at NetDocuments my first choice would be Tikit, so that would be tricky.”

For clients that are already engaged in a pitch process with Tikit and iManage, the news may also be unsettling until it becomes more obvious how the new arrangement will play out.

Much like Brexit, now the initial surprise is over, it remains to be seen in the longer term what the fallout will be.

This article first appeared in the June issue of Legal IT Insider. To sign up for the next issue click on this link – http://www.legaltechnology.com//latest-newsletter/