Firstly, the acquisition of Princeton Softech, a data management tools provider, boosts IBM’s arsenal in the execution of its ‘Information On Demand’ strategy. This entails selling a collection of data management and integration tools that help organisations retrieve and utilise information for all corners of the enterprise.
Princeton Softech’s flagship products, Optim, enables its 2,200 customers – including BT, Vodafone and Canal+ – to move structured and unstructured data from operational systems to archives in a rules-based fashion. As such, the product strengthens the compliance component of IBM’s information management offering.
At industry analyst group Ovum, Mike Davis observes that when combined with IBM’s FileNet content management system, “Optim could give a step change in the ability to manage the rapidly increasing volumes of semi-structured information,” such as email and documents.
On a different front, IBM also swooped on Webdialogs to beef up its web conferencing portfolio. The acquired company’s web conferencing tools, based around its Unyte family, are to become the back-bone of a hosted version of IBM’s collaboration hub, Lotus Sametime. IBM says the product is central to its unified communications strategy, as it is the point where the various communications media, such as instant messaging and voice over IP, will converge.
WebDialogs charges around $38 a month for its Unyte Meeting facility of web-based voice, video and collaboration applications service.
The opportunity for vendors in the unified communications market is an appetising one: the business case for flexible and pervasive communications is strong, but it will require significant hardware and software investment from customers. According to recent research by Infonetics, the unified communications market grew 21% between 2005 and 2006 to reach $363 million, and is expected to grow “in the high double digits” each year until 2010.
Gartner analysts currently place Microsoft as the market leader in terms of product quality and vision, but this acquisition, and a new technology licensing agreement with Siemens, place IBM in a strong position to capitalise on the Lotus brand to build a UC foothold.