by Craig Le Clair.

I spent a fine day at Hyland Software with A.J. Hyland and his team at the Hyland Software annual partnership conference last week. I’d have to say A.J.’s been a bit riled up of late. He admits to having a large chip on his shoulder — analysts and others have been telling him for years that the smallish pure play vendor will have trouble competing, and they make a good case. Consolidation continues and Microsoft Office 2007 is creating confusion for ECM buyers and more fodder for industry watch dogs.

Yet Hyland has grown revenues consistently and has been profitable for years. I speak to information and knowledge management professionals every day and one thing is constant: they are trying to buy solutions that solve problems. And most care little about who is buying who; they care even less about whether an ECM provider is part of a big company positioning for infrastructure of a medium size pure play emphasizing applications and vertical markets. Most companies are like the homeowner that wants a better shower but doesn’t really care whether the underlying pipes are PVC or cooper.

These buyers are focused on the thousands of business processes out there that need help managing content, migrating from paper to electronic, and applying higher levels of automation. There is plenty to do for everyone — and firms that focus on what customers need will continue to prosper.