Adobe Systems today announced their intent to acquire Day Software which we evaluate in-depth in our Web Content Management and Digital Asset Management research. We've seen Adobe featured in many content management RFPs, and although they have had some of necessary pieces of a potential content management solution including Adobe Contribute and LiveCycle, they were never taken seriously as a content management player. An OEM deal with Alfresco a few years back, though well-intentioned, didn't help much - but this announcement will surely change the situation dramatically.
Products like Adobe LiveCycle help the automatic generation and dynamic delivery of personalized documents, usually for customer communications such as insurance quotes or e-bills sent by your telco.
Adobe's LiveCycle's customers who wanted ECM capabilities had an option of using an embedded Alfresco repository. But now they will also be able to use Day's CRX as well as have tighter integration with Day's Digital Asset Management and Social Collaboration offerings. The announcement does not say anything about whether Alfresco will be replaced by CRX in LiveCycle, so if you are an existing customer of this offering, you'll need to wait and see what the implications may be.
Existing Day customers may better benefit from the acquisition as they will likely be able to use some of Adobe's personalization capabilities (such as clickstream cloud) in conjunction with LiveCycle as well as have a tighter integration with Adobe's Flash, Flex and other technologies.
The deal will conclude in December 2010 and the FAQ mentions that the current management of Day will continue through 2011. But we recommend you ask for a detailed roadmap from your rep.
The deal also has a significance in terms of the general marketplace. For many organizations, the content lifecycle includes much more than what is "typically" considered part of ECM. In many cases, the end document (e.g., policy or bill) consists of some standard elements such as salutation and greetings along with elements that are specific to you. In the case of a policy, the specific elements could be based on your risk profile or legal terms based on your state or country of residence. In the case of a bill, these specific elements could be new tariff plans or campaigns based on your past history. In these examples, the organization needs to collect information (such as demographics), take it through a business process and then based on some rules, dynamically generate and publish the end result.
We believe that all of these should be part of content lifecycle and that is the reason why in our ECM & Document Management Marketplace 2010, we've argued that features such as document assembly and dynamic publishing will get increased attention from mainstream ECM vendors in the future. Many other vendors that we cover in our ECM research, such as EMC (with Document Sciences), HP (with Exstream), Oracle (with Documaker) already have offerings that strive to bring together these two aspects. We plan to include a separate section on Dynamic Publishing and review many such products in our next version of the ECM Report.
As for Adobe and Day, the question that nobody can answer at present is whether Adobe can really sell enterprise-grade customizable software. Their history of selling shrink-wrapped, lower-priced, high-volume software has built the firm into a Silicon Valley giant, but their ability to sell small-scale but very high-value enterprise software deals remains untested. The biggest danger for current Day customers may be that Adobe will want to take the technology, and over time commoditize it into shrink wrapped low-cost functionality bundles. But again, at this stage we can only speculate. And you as a buyer and user of the technology can do no more than act with extreme caution and ensure that any promises made by the Day and Adobe are solid and verifiable.