Another week, another divestiture in the content management and collaboration market. A new – or more accurately, a renewed – player enters the Enterprise Content Management market this week as iManage and HP make an apparently amicable split. Executives with longstanding roots in the iManage and Interwoven businesses, including Neil Araujo and Dan Carmel, have executed a management buyout to spin a revitalized iManage business out of HP’s Software division. iManage’s press release is here.

Customers and partners still have a strong brand recognition of “iManage,” despite being covered under layers of rebranding through multiple acquisitions over the past decade. Loyal clients, particularly the legal, accounting/audit, and consulting industries have stuck with the document management platform despite the turmoil of the Interwoven-Autonomy-HP eras and the encroachment of competitors such as Microsoft SharePoint, perennial nemesis OpenText eDocs, and alternatives such as NetDocuments and Worldox.

The new iManage will launch with an established installed base of approximately 3,000 customers, including 80% of the top US law firms, and 400 corporate legal departments, according to its July 21 press release.

What does this mean for customers and partners of the new iManage?
Expect a to see a new energy infused into the road maps for key products such as WorkSite (for document and email management), LinkSite (for secure file sharing), and records management. As one of the early innovators behind the shift in the 2000s from generic document management to “matter-centric work” for law firms and corporate legal, the new iManage might define the next generation of “work product management” for the revenue-generating professional workers that comprise its core audience.

In addition to this new focus on its established products, iManage will continue to work as a partner with HP Inc. (the multifunction printing and hardware company), reselling technologies such as Teleform and HP Process Automation, to meet the transactional content requirements of its clients. IDOL will continue to power its search offering, as the key analytics engine behind Universal Search. HP Cloud will continue to be an option for clients seeking hosted or hybrid services.

Customers should expect enhancements to the product’s user experience over coming months. The largely intact product and R&D teams promise to execute on their stated mission to deepen the connection between content and communication management and help busy professionals work and exchange information across an ever-expanding set of digital channels.

While many of the key employees are making the transition from HP to an independent iManage, customers should push to ensure there is a clear plan to minimize the disruption of support services. Inevitably, new systems and processes will take time to gel, and the new iManage executive team has admitted they will need to invest in customer support and R&D headcount.

What does this mean for customers and partners of HP?
HP’s Enterprise Software group will continue to invest in its broader information governance strategy, including key products such as HP RM (formerly TRIM), ControlPoint, and its broad eDiscovery portfolio, powered by its IDOL analytics engine. As these information governance and management technologies come closer together under the broader big data portfolio, HP can now focus its efforts on a smaller set of products, with far less overlap now that Worksite and related offerings are shifted to iManage. For enterprise content management, expect to see HP RM evolve to offer a broader set of business and transactional content services. HP RM has long had capabilities well beyond just records management and has the potential to evolve into a more full-featured document sharing and management platform. Indeed, Forrester does hear from both public and private sector enterprises using HP RM for their comprehensive ECM needs.

Perhaps bigger is not always better for enterprise software vendors.
Perhaps bigger is not better after all for enterprise software vendors in the content and information management space. This divestiture of HP to iManage follows its own split into two core companies: HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. EMC made its first move with Syncplicity earlier this month. Symantec announced its split into two entities – Symantec and Veritas – in October last year. (Read Forrester’s Quick Take on that announcement here). As technology companies become more customer-obsessed and focused on client experience, smaller may allow more clarity of mission and ability to execute more quickly in a highly competitive market.

The HP – iManage split will make for interesting conversation buzz at the upcoming ILTA conference. I’m certainly keen to see what iManage and HP launch in front of some of their key legal and compliance customers. See you in Vegas.

As always, Forrester customers who want to talk further about what this latest divestiture means for their content management road maps are encouraged to set up an inquiry. Request a 30-minute call here: Inquiry Requests.