If iManage shows up in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management (ECM) next year, something will have gone terribly wrong. 

“We’re a content applications company, not an ECM supplier,” said Dan Carmel, iManage’s CMO. So forget the fact that iManage, when it was owned by Interwoven, Autonomy and HP, respectively, often got grouped in with horizontal enterprise content/document management and collaboration providers. 

“We’re in a different business, that’s not what we do,” Carmel explained.

Calling the Shots (Again)

Now that it is an independent company, iManage’s business strategy, product development and relationships with its employees and partners can once again be driven by a single mission: meeting the needs of its customers. More than 3,000 organizations depend on its software to manage and collaborate on documents such as contracts and financial statements.

“Content is the lifeblood of these companies,” said Carmel, it’s where the professionals at these organizations spend their time. Content — in the form of documents, more often than not — is also the work product that these companies produce. iManage, metaphorically speaking, is more like an ERP system, and less like an OpenText or Documentum, explained Carmel.

This differentiation is important, because instead of trying to be an “all things to all companies” content management provider, iManage was built specifically around the needs of professional services providers.

And that’s something that the market, and even some of iManage’s corporate owners, might not have fully embraced. At HP, for example, iManage had to serve HP’s larger agenda, whether it was in terms of product strategy or to what extent it could reinvest its revenues back into its own business. 

Over time that left some iManage customers feeling unhappy and underserved. Carmel admits that the pace of innovation had slowed over the years, the user interface and user experience was lacking, and that agility became a challenge.

So while iManage was (and is) profitable and its products worked, the experience wasn’t modern and it didn’t delight the masses. Or the team that had built it. 

Moment of Opportunity

When HP started its journey to split into two different entities, both its corporate management team, and the group that ran iManage specifically, began to look at where it fit into the mega corporation’s  product portfolio. Both sides agreed that maybe it didn’t. This opened a window for iManage’s founders to buy back the company they started more than two decades ago. 

And that’s exactly what they did.

“We now have an opportunity and the freedom to reimagine what we do. And in the context of today’s market,” Neil Araujo, iManage’s CEO told CMSWire at the time. “There are forces like the proliferation of devices, cloud and open source,” he added, which didn’t exist in 1995 when iManage was founded.

100 Days Later

Araujo’s enthusiasm was contagious. His co-founder Rafiq Mohammad has returned to the company as CTO. Carmel and some 22 other alumni are back as well.

Learning Opportunities

“These are people who were disaffected at the time that they left,” said Carmel, “but who have now returned to do great, meaningful work like we used to. This is once again a company where we can all build careers.”

And they, together with 30 new hires, are setting out to do that. 

With a new roadmap and a mandate to create a new, more modern user experience, there’s a lot to do, especially when you consider that iManage hasn’t had a major release in more than a decade. 

To put things in perspective, there hasn’t, until now, been a major update since before the iPhone was invented — so it’s impressive that just 100 days later, the Windows 10 look and feel already inhabits the iManage product. The mobile experience, together with all the security and governance capabilities of the iManage platform, will be rolled out in the coming months, said Carmel.

The Market Responds

Carmel said that when iManage spun off from HP, the management team was faced with two big questions: Would the employees stay (they have) and would the customers embrace the change?

“The customer reaction was more positive than we could have imagined,” said Carmel. “The market has welcomed us back with open arms.”

Not only that, but they’re adding new customers faster that they have in years, at a rate of 1.5 per day (a 30 percent increase).

To be fair, some of this work started before the HP spin-off.

Honeymoon Phase?

While there have to have been some obstacles to overcome and some difficulties during this transition, we couldn’t find any — it could be that the company is in its honeymoon phase. It could also be that having the freedom and the pocketbook to once again create products that delight customers fuels possibilities that few have the chance to experience.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by  Don McCullough