When content management was introduced in the 1980s, it was cutting-edge, even bleeding edge and promised to transform the ways in which we work and do business. Getting “the right information, to the right people at the right time” was its promise. Much of that its promise has been realized, at least in terms of what we thought of as “information.”

But the world, back then, wasn’t digitized the way it is today. Data was far more static and when we heard “tsunami,” we thought of a dangerous wave of water rather than a wave of information that held the potential for tremendous opportunity. How times have changed.

And for content management vendors, today’s world of big data, small data and analytics opens the door for transformation. By harnessing their existing offerings and leveraging 3rd platform tools, enterprises will be able to engage with their customers and employees in more valuable ways — whether they ‘re pushing the right offerings to customers more intelligently, learning more about which products and services to put to market, becoming alert to customer problems before they become big problems and working more intelligently and more collaboratively with employees and business partners.

OpenText's Acquisition

These opportunities for ECM vendors and their customers come via solutions like Automatic Content Recognition, Context-Enriched Content, Process Style Media Records Management, Natural-Language Question Answering, Video Search, Social Content, Content Analytics, Enterprise Taxonomy and Ontology Management, Enterprise Video Content Management, Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing (EFSS), Social Analytics, Cloud Office Systems, Text Analytics, and so on, Gartner notes in its Hype Cycle for Content Management report.

OpenText, a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management, has been consistently at the forefront of recognizing emerging technologies that apply to its business and the business of its customers. So it doesn’t come as to big a surprise that earlier today it announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Business Intelligence provider Actuate, which Forrester named as a Leader in its Q4 2013 Wave for Enterprise Business Intelligence Platforms.

Actuate, often called “the BIRT company,” trades under that ticker symbol on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). BIRT stands for “Business Intelligence Reporting Tools” and is an Eclipse Foundation Open Source Project. Actuate supports BIRT – the open source IDE – and develops BIRT iHub – its deployment platform – to significantly improve productivity of developers working on customer-facing applications. Actuate's BIRT Analytics delivers self-service predictive analytics to enhance customer engagement using Big Data. Actuate for CCM empowers ECM architects to easily transform, process, personalize and archive high-volume content.

'A Good Rationale'

Though Open Text executives aren’t able to talk about their reasoning behind the purchase because the deal is not yet complete, the analysts we spoke to believe the acquisition is a smart move.

“Actuate can add analytical capabilities to other products in the Open Text portfolio. It’s a good rationale,” says Alan Pelz-Sharpe, a research director at 451 Research. He adds that the acquisition can help Open Text add new and “much needed” analytical features to the its ECM, BPM and Discovery products in turn enabling it to sell more deeply and consolidate its position within its large and generally happy customer base.

R Ray Wang, principal analyst, founder and chairman of Constellation Research echoes a similar sentiment. “Open Text is set on building a new business stack. Their acquisition strategy was severely missing an analytics component and Actuate has done a great job expanding analytics beyond the IT user to the business user.”

As for our two cents, we believe the acquisition can help OpenText leverage its existing innovation in text analytics, add new insight into its DAM products and provide its customers with an ability to easily create visualizations, etc. In other words, it could give us a glimpse of what a new era in enterprise content management might look like.