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Commentary

Fewer Vendors, Beefier Software Expected In BPM Market

The herd of vendors in the business process management software market thinned a bit this week with EMC Corp.'s acquisition of ProActivity Software Solutions Ltd. The purchase reflected two trends: consolidation among vendors and the convergence of BPM and content management.
The herd of vendors in the business process management software market thinned a bit this week with EMC Corp.'s acquisition of ProActivity Software Solutions Ltd. The purchase reflected two trends: consolidation among vendors and the convergence of BPM and content management.In the area of consolidation, it's inevitable in a growing market that big vendors such as EMC would go shopping for a small vendor with technology it needs. Another example of consolidation this year was BEA Systems Inc.'s acquisition in March of BPM vendor Fuego Inc.

ProActivity, based in Newton, Mass., brings to EMC BPM capabilities that the Hopkinton, Mass., vendor didn't get in its 2003 acquisition of content management software provider Documentum. ProActivity is expected to extend Documentum's technology with the ability to analyze and optimize business processes, including those that are paper-based. In addition, ProActivity offers business activity monitoring features for tracking automated business processes.

Integrating the two products, however, will take time. EMC doesn't expect to launch a unified architecture until mid to late 2007.

The convergence of content management with BPM features is a trend that investment banking firm Boston Corporate Finance predicted in late 2003.

"The EMC/ProActivity transaction is representative of an overriding trend that is prevalent in the integration software space today," Murray Beach, president of BCF and M&A International, said in a email. "The industry remains highly fragmented and the leaders in the space are jockeying for position by snapping up cutting-edge, best-of-breed technologies to differentiate themselves in the marketplace."

Of course, BCF contributed to the success of its own prediction. The firm helped in the acquisition as ProActivity's financial adviser.

Nevertheless, consolidation is expected to continue in the BPM market, along with software convergence. As a result, the vendors left standing will be able to provide products that offer far more capabilities than they do today.

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