Speculation has been flying about the future of HP Engage following the announcement that OpenText acquired the product suite. 

It's now two weeks since the news broke, and we still have very little information that explains what it means to former HP customers.

Most media coverage focused either on the financial side of the deal or painted a vision of eternal pain and mayhem for anyone who owns any of the products that OpenText acquired. I wanted to focus on what we really know as of today and how the deal will impact HP customers in the long term.

Asking the Right Question

The question asked in most coverage was, “What is the future of the HP products that OpenText acquired?” 

This is the wrong question to ask. 

Customer experience (CXM) technology has become highly commoditized in the last decade. In 99 percent of the cases you can achieve the exact same results with any leading DAM, WCM, e-commerce or campaign management software. What makes or breaks your CXM project is your implementation partner, your relationship with your software vendor, the support you’re provided with, etc.

Therefore, the question you should start with is, “What is the future of my relationship with OpenText?”

What We Know About OpenText

One thing to keep in mind is that OpenText is a software company. Having your software platforms owned and run by a software company — as opposed to a printer company — offers a number of advantages:

1. Vision and Strategy

The acquired software assets are much more relevant to OpenText’s overall vision and strategy than they would ever be to HP Inc’s. This in turn means that the products and teams associated with them are more likely to receive due attention under OpenText’s management. 

2. Product Support and Development

Although we don’t yet know for certain what OpenText has in store in terms of future product development for the acquired assets, we can build some expectations based on what it has done with its past acquisitions. Despite what some people will tell you, Red Dot, a CMS acquired by OpenText in October 2006 and rebranded as Web Site Management, is being maintained, with new features added 10 years post-acquisition. 

At the same time, Gartner recently moved OpenText Web Experience Management — previously known as Vignette — from the challengers category to the leaders category in its Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management. Not too shabby.

Learning Opportunities

3. Partner Ecosystem

The OpenText deal impacts not only HP’s customers, but also its partners. And a healthy partner ecosystem is key to the success of any enterprise software platform. A software company, such as OpenText, should be a much better strategic match for HP implementation partners.

Look to how OpenText handles partner marketing for an example of what this means in real life. As a part of the new partner program launched last year, a market development fund became available to all of OpenText partners, including the smaller SIs and agencies. 

In a nutshell, partner marketing spend will be matched dollar-for-dollar for all approved business plans. 

A Move in the Right Direction for HP?

It’s too early to answer all the questions we may have about the acquisition. For example, we don’t know TeamSite’s positioning against OpenText Web Experience Management (a.k.a. Vignette) and OpenText Web Site Management (a.k.a. RedDot). We will be finding that out in the coming weeks though.

My goal here wasn’t to tell HP customers that this acquisition will put them in an ideal position. The goal was to compare the real life alternatives and determine whether this acquisition was a step in the right direction.

Judging from what we know about OpenText today, I'd argue it was.

Title image by Evan Dennis

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