OpenText and Global 360

The recently announced acquisition of Global 360 by OpenText has raised a number of eyebrows and prompted quite a reaction in the blogosphere. I tweeted that I would be worried as a customer of both, especially given the acquisition of Metastorm. However to put this all into perspective I thought I would post an article which put down 3 potential positives from the deal and 3 potential negatives.

On the Plus Side

  1. By purchasing Metastorm and Global 360 OpenText are making a major play into the BPM part of the SharePoint world. This could be viewed as a disruptive or defensive tactic. It is well known that one of the weaknesses of the SharePoint platform is its BPM capability. By purchasing two of the leading BPM vendors who integrate well with SharePoint OpenText could be seen to be putting down a marker to defend their market which is being moved onto the SharePoint platform. Either of the two companies were potential targets for Microsoft themselves so OpenText have moved to stop this.
  2. Both Metastorm and Global 360 are leading BPM technologies, albeit with overlapping capabilities. If OpenText can take the best bits of both and incorporate them into a Case Management Framework with their LiveLink repository as the back-end document store then it could be a very compelling proposition.
  3. OpenText already have a strong relationship and this could strengthen that relationship and move OpenText away from being an ECM player to being the BPM product vendor of choice for SharePoint, given the weakness of SharePoint in this space it could be a very shrewd move for OpenText to diversify from their traditional ECM roots.

Looking for the negatives

  1. OpenText have not traditionally been good at integrating new products into their stack. The typical approach is to rebrand the product as an OpenText product. If this is the case then why would they continue to invest in two overlapping products, it would make financial sense for them to move customers of one on to the other at some stage. Even if they do try and integrate then there will be a need for customers to move to the new solution at some stage in the future.
  2. The timing of the acquisition is strange given the recent Metastorm acquisition. Its hard enough integrating one fundamental component into an existing technology stack, taking on two will be an interesting experience.
  3. Whilst Point 1 of my positives could be seen as a positive for OpenText as they cling on to defend their market share I cannot really justify it as a positive for either Metastorm or Global 360 customers. If it is a defensive or disruptive move then it does not exactly promote OpenText’s willingness for long term investment in the two products. At some stage Microsoft will plug the gap in SharePoint on BPM so this possible tactic would only act to delay this.


All of the above is pure speculation and I would say even OpenText are probably a little unsure of what the future holds. There is the possibility they could make an excellent move into the Case Management market through a fully integrated solution but on past experience this is not how they have operated. The speculation is fun, watching what happens next will be interesting.

ACM and DCM again

I’ve been prompted to post this by some very kind and positive comments on a statement I made on a LinkedIn discussion on the difference between Adaptive Case Management (ACM) and Dynamic Case Management (DCM).

Given the positive comments I thought I would repost my comment on this blog:

DCM sets out a sequence of steps to achieve a goal, the dynamic nature is met through business rules which are understood at the time of modelling the process. ACM is much less prescriptive on the sequence of activities but is much more focussed on achieving the end goal, it understands that there are unknowns in the business process which will change and allows for these changes.

David was the first to comment on this on his blog and then I received a positive note back from a former colleague on Twitter. Niall made an interesting point that my comment demonstrated the difference between the order of DCM and the entropy of ACM.

It is a shame that the original LinkedIn discussion degenerated into a personal conflict and the comments I made above were somewhat lost in the discussion. I would though point you at a follow up discussion which attempts to bring clarity to the discussion. However I feel this later discussion just adds further fud to the matter and is likely to drive potential consumers to distraction. Take for example the description of ACM as an UN-solution!

Why do I think this? Customers don’t care whether they buy ACM or DCM, they care about how the solution will meet their needs. From the typically prescriptive process of Claims Management in Insurance to the more ad-hoc and unpredictable nature of Criminal Investigations (admittedly with specific business goals within the life of the Case).

My advice, don’t implement based on the label. Understand what you’re trying to achieve and assess the solutions and options which are available to you. Its not rocket science!


Well I started writing a post on Dynamic Case Management about a week ago and I have to admit after a bit of research I found some of the ideas were not strong enough for it to be published. However the research I did opened a few other avenues of interest. Not least prompted by an excellent series of articles written by Joe Shepley on his research into Adaptive Case Management.

The first question I had is around the definition of Adaptive Case Management, and specifically in relation to the Forrester Wave which has been published on Dynamic Case Management. There is quite a lot of interest and information on the web about ACM, most notably led by the likes of Sandy Kemsley and Max J. Pucher, so it is interesting that one of the leading Analyst firms have chosen a different term for their recent Wave report. Having said that one of the authors is quoted in the this article on ACM. Now I am not saying one term is more correct than the other but the differences highlight the immaturity in this space, something which I will come back to. We can also throw into the pot the term Advanced Case Management, but this is more of a product name for the IBM products. Interestingly I think there is an important difference to be made in the term Advanced compared to Adaptive and Dynamic, both of these suggest a strong element of change. Max also wrote an excellent article about the difference between ACM and DCM, however I wonder if the statement below from the Forrester report blurs the differences which Max identifies?

It was the Forrester Wave which prompted the interest in the first place, and more specifically the products which they had chosen to appear in the report. When you read through Joe’s posts, and I would recommend them as an excellent way to get an understanding of this space from an abstract perspective, you get a picture of a paradigm which does indeed allow for the user driven change in activities which achieve the business goal. Reading the Forrester report I got the same ideas, in fact one of the four tenets of DCM as suggested by Forrester is:

Accessible mechanisms that allow end users to handle variation

One of the reasons for my initial interest was my scepticism of the ability of products to handle this level of variation; how many of us have been part of a project that seeks to define the business process to the nth degree as part of the implementation of a solution only to find some time later that the process has changed and that change requires a technical change to the solution?

My scepticism remains and I know some of the products in the Forrester report would either require this change to be implemented as a technical solution or would require the level of flexibility to be built into the solution from the start (of course the main problem is no-one knew this flexibility would be required when the solution was built!). However there are products in the report who claim to contain the ability to handle variation. When I say claim I am not saying they do not, all I am saying is that I like to see how this feature has been implemented as I have seen it promised before and it has meant the end users having to use the process definition tools of the product which in turn requires a technical deployment.

I really need to dig deeper into these products to see how they would allow for this, and in fact I think it would be a natural extension for the posts from Joe. I am sure many of us who have implemented ECM/BPM/ACM/DCM solutions have set out to achieve this flexibility but when the crunch has come we have been disappointed with the detail in which this flexibility is achieved. Going back to Max’s post there is a very clear difference between Goal orientation and Process centric solutions, it seems a shame that the Forrester Report does not really help with this distinction.

Such an exercise may take some time and is, in all honesty, probably not something I am going to actually get done so if you have experience in delivering ACM solutions then I would love to hear your thoughts on how the products get going when the going gets tough. Any time I do get to spend looking at how products provide these features will be discussed.

So Who Buys Case Management Anyway?

If there is one term which is creating a buzz in the ECM world, not to mention the BPM world as well, it is Case Management. Lots of different flavours of it, Adaptive Case Management, Advanced Case Management etc…. EMC and IBM are putting their weight behind it as their strategy for the next few years as well as other organisations such as Nuxeo.

So lets go sell and implement Case Management. Who wants to buy one?

Try and get some time with someone from a Financial Services organisation or a Utility company to discuss Case Management and you’re likely to get short shrift. You’ve got an inkling of a chance in places like Legal Firms or in Public Sector, but still the conversation will be short if you’re not willing to talk specifics.

Case Management is not a solution, they tend to be frameworks or platforms upon which solutions can be built. The accelerators (xCelerators in EMC world) tend to lift the platform nearer to business solutions but they still tend to fall short of being the final business solution. So the questions is who will buy one of these frameworks? I cannot see the majority of end users buying such a framework, there is little in the way of ROI which can be identified to justify such a purchase, unless they have the in house capability, and appetite, to take on the establishment and exploitation of such a platform.

Therefore it suggests that the target market for the sale is in fact the implementers, those companies that can build the business solutions on top of these platforms and then sell these on to the end customers. One could argue that this is not too different from previous models for ECM and BPM but I would argue that the increased focus on delivering value in these times of austerity has meant a further move in this direction. The days of selling the platform and then building the solutions are gone; we are now in a time when the first solution to be built on the platform is the one which needs to drive ROI, further exploitation is a nice to have and will no doubt be considered as a factor but if you can deliver a solution and deliver that ROI then you are in pole position.

This is an interesting movement though as it does place more emphasis on the implementers to invest in business solutions, perhaps more so than before. I know of a number of organisations who are going through with this, would be interested to hear if there is an evidence of this model being adopted? Alternatively are you an end user who is looking at evaluating the Case Management platforms which exist? How much time do you spend looking at the platform or is it the solution you buy?

Another interesting consideration from this is the ability of organisations to exploit that platform once the first solution has been deployed. It is possible that the first solution to be deployed on that platform could be architected in such a way which makes it difficult for future solutions to cohabit. Now that may not be good practice but if the customer is buying a solution and not a platform then it should only be expected.

I have said before that it must be easier for ECM solutions to demonstrate business value and this move to solutions will achieve that but it will require some consideration from those involved in the implementation as to whether this is a one off solution or whether this is step 1 in a longer journey.