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Vignette buys Intraspect

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After iManage merged with Interwoven and Documentum with eRoom, it almost looked as if Intraspect was going to be the wallflower at the dance. The pace of consolidation in the Smart Enterprise Suite sector was making the position of pure-play vendors ever more shaky. Obviously the logic of consolidation was undeniable and now Vignette has entered into an agreement to acquire Intraspect for $20M.

Vignette is cash rich having over $308M cash on December 2002 and the CEO, Tom Hogan, has launched the company on an aggressive growth and acquisition path. Vignette acquired Epicentric a leading business portal solutions vendor, in October 2002.

Intraspect is a privately held company with about 180 employees that started trading in Europe in 2000. Intraspect software benefits from years of research at Stanford and elsewhere in knowledge sharing, knowledge acquisition, collaboration and human-computer interaction. Intraspect's 200 customers include the Bank of America, Barclays Global Investors, BearingPoint, Cadence, GE Capital, Hill & Knowlton, J.P. Morgan Chase, LSI Logic, Ogilvy, Sun Microsystems and Reed Elsevier.

Intraspect 5, the latest version of Intraspect's collaboration and knowledge management software, has been carefully designed to integrate into the enterprise environment. Good integration tools will help Vignette and Intraspect to create the objective of the merger - a fully integrated Smart Enterprise Suite.

Another notable feature of Intraspect is its ability to work with other desktop systems. In particular, a full range of collaboration facilities is accessible via email. This is attractive to high-value information workers who often prefer familiar email tools. Although email has been receiving a lot of criticism recently as a productivity drain, it is still the preferred communication tool for the vast majority of information workers.

The acquisition of Intraspect takes Vignette a lot closer to the holy grail of content and collaboration vendors: to create a Smart Enterprise Suite containing an integrated set of content management and collaboration functions. Digital Asset Management is probably the last piece of the puzzle that is still missing but Vignette has a lot of cash left.

As in the case of Documentum's acquisition of eRoom, the benefits of the merger will only arrive when the two products are fully integrated to gain the benefits of shared functions. This will be a costly exercise but it is essential if Vignette is to avoid what has been described as a "Frankenstack" architecture that is hard for both customers and the vendor to work with.

The leading SES vendors such as Documentum, Interwoven, Open Link and Hyperwave are now all at the starting line for the next stage of the competition to become the Oracle or Microsoft of the next wave of team-based, Information Worker support applications. The developments over the next year are likely to be as interesting as the last one.

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