This week, OpenText released version 8.1 of their WCM product. It features new media management capabilities, better support for mobile devices (result of their weComm acquisition) and some other enhancements. But more importantly, they dropped "Vignette" from the name of their WCM and Portal products. In fact they completely re-branded the names: The WCM product is now named "OpenText Web Experience Management" and the Portal product is now known - well you guessed it - "OpenText Portal".
I personally don't like generic terms to be product names -- "we licensed Web Experience Management" doesn't sound meaningful to me -- but that's a topic for another post.
Re-branding product names or dropping the original vendor's name is nothing new. OpenText has done it numerous times before. Anyone remembers Gauss, Hummingbird and all the others that led to these numerous name changes?
And they are not the only ones. A few days ago, IBM also renamed their WCM offering. They dropped "Lotus" from the WCM product name. So the WCM product is now called IBM Web Content Manager. I'll speculate they might do away with some of the other brands such as WebSphere and Tivoli too in near future.
Many times, a re-branding signifies that an acquired technology has been well integrated with the parent - both in terms of organizational integration and product integration at a technical level. Sometimes, it's also accompanied by additional enhancements or a change in product's focus. But a lot of other times, its more of a marketing gimmick -- a mirage -- to give an impression that the product (or the vendor) has been integrated well with rest of the offerings. At times, it's also about riding a new wave of hype.
Both these vendors are finally getting rid of original product names that came from the vendors they acquired. Having those in the product name has its advantages. For companies like IBM and OpenText that have acquired numerous companies, having the name of original vendor helps you navigate through the complex organizational structure and makes it easy to understand some of the legacy intangibles that explain a product's strengths and weaknesses. While that legacy is helpful for customers, for the vendor it brings major disadvantages, and they hope a new name shows the product is now "part of the family."
For you the customer evaluating products, make sure to suss out a product's history and evolution. In our evaluation research, we actually cover this in good detail, so that you have an idea of product's background. That is also helpful to understand how seamlessly (pun intended) the product integrates with rest of the vendor's offering. In fact, many times, vendors get upset with us for citing older product names in our reviews. However, we do that intentionally to actually show the product may actually differ from their remaining offerings -- exactly the kind of thing a vendor wants to hide.