Today, Hyland Software, best known for its OnBase and Perceptive content management portfolios, announced it will acquire Alfresco Software. Both vendors were named as “Leaders” in The Forrester Wave™: ECM Content Platforms, Q3 2019 (subscription required).

This is a natural next step in Hyland’s recent rejuvenation strategy. Hyland’s investments over the last year include the distributed ledger (blockchain) company Learning Machine, focused on higher education credentials, and, most recently, European robotic process automation vendor Another Monday, revealing an appetite to leapfrog into newer, adjacent markets. Historically, Hyland’s acquisitions have been smaller: natural tuck-in technologies to further entrench itself in its key verticals (insurance, higher education, healthcare, and the public sector).

But the acquisition of Alfresco is different and — if successfully executed — will help Hyland move confidently into the era of cloud-native, modern content services. Why?

• Alfresco brings one of the more modern architectures to the content management market, and it has adapted quickly to the rise of cloud, with early, strategic partnerships with Amazon Web Services (AWS).
• Alfresco’s balanced portfolio of content, process, and governance services are enhanced by its relatively recent application development framework “low-code” development toolkit, as well as its ability to integrate leading AI/machine learning services, such as those from AWS.
• Alfresco’s own recent acquisitions (such as partners Technology Services Group for its insurance, cloud, and migration expertise and pernexas for its SAP integration) have been shots across the bow at long-time enterprise content management (ECM) megavendors IBM and OpenText respectively. This is important in the battleground to migrate the many large, mature deployments that remain on-premises, particularly in regulated industries.

Hyland’s own modernization efforts and delivery of a next-gen, cloud-native platform — Hyland Experience Platform (HXP) — has lagged compared with other established ECM providers. The Alfresco acquisition will help because:

• Hyland’s current investment in its Hyland Experience Platform makes sense to help move its predominantly on-premises and managed-service customers into a modern cloud future, but HXP may not be mature enough for large, net-new opportunities.
• Investment in HXP will continue to be important to bring Hyland’s acquired Perceptive portfolio into a common release cycle with classic Hyland products and develop some common, cross-product foundational services.
• There is pent-up demand in large, regulated industries such as insurance, financial services, life sciences, and government for modern cloud content platforms. Porting these mature apps and repositories to newer systems will demand scalability and a track record in the cloud. Alfresco helps deliver this to Hyland.

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