Over the last three years, mergers and acquisitions have become de rigueur in the ECM market as major players in the space strive to broaden the definition of enterprise content management, especially through the addition of digital asset capabilities. In 2001, Bulldog Group—a Canadian company that specialized in DAM—was acquired by Documentum. Interwoven signed an agreement in June of 2003 to acquire MediaBin. Less than two months later, in August of 2003, Stellent followed suit and purchased DAM vendor Ancept. Then in August of this year, Open Text announced its acquisition of Artesia Technologies.
While each instance of one company absorbing another has resulted in old products with new names or old brands tied to new products, one company has decided to go a step further towards the goal of uniting two companies—and asset and content management—under one brand new brand. INSCI, which acquired DAM provider WebWare and its ActiveMedia software on September 10, 2003, decided to drop the INSCI moniker and has officially become ClearStory Systems as of November 2004. The name is derived from an architectural term for a type of wall that is designed to allow more light into a space, which fits the company's goal of trying "to bring content to light," explains Susan Worthy, VP of marketing at ClearStory Systems. Of the evolution of ECM and the company's approach, Worthy says, "What we're seeing is that fixed content as a market has reached its maturity. We're looking as a company to broaden our offerings in the larger ECM space."
However, Worthy doesn't see ECM as the ideal term for what ClearStory Systems has to offer. "Although ECM is a great term to describe the broad market space, it doesn't describe how applications are deployed." She goes on to say, "Most companies that invest in software solutions are driven by a specific requirement. Most enterprises don't invest in a single CM system because each department has its own unique business workflow."
ClearStory System's main solution is the newly renamed and updated Radiant Product Suite, released in October. Combining INSCI's expertise in scalable document management with WebWare's DAM and online presence, the Radiant Product Suite consists of a business document server and an enterprise media server (released in November) on the back-end, and a customizable user interface on the front-end. "We're the only company within the ECM space that has powerful metadata management, robust rich media management, and a highly scalable Web services architecture," claims Worthy. "And the only one that has this available optionally as a hosted ISP."
Banking on the modular approach to which many CM vendors have shifted, Worthy thinks it's Radiant's customizable front-end that will bring in and keep customers. "Companies can start with a point solution, take it and modify or expand it, and bring it to another department, in essence, creating a new solution, all with the same back-end. This allows customers to take manageable steps towards fixing big problems." For creating interfaces rather than simply modifying existing ones, ClearStory offers a service to customers to do just that. "However, if an enterprise was large enough, they could use our technology like a blob of clay and build their own applications sitting on top of it," says Worthy. Currently, there are modular, point-based Radiant solutions designed for Video Communications, Marketing Content Management, Call Center Support, Global Brand Management, Enterprise Report Management, and Channel Marketing Support.
While ClearStory may not lump its solutions into the ECM category, Radiant carries an enterprise-class price tag. Customers "have to plan on an average entry-level of $100,000 on a hosted basis," says Worthy, "then it scales up," with 7,000-user solutions running upwards of a million dollars.
Like much of the content industry, one component still missing from ClearStory's vision of an end-to-end information lifecycle management solution is digital rights management (DRM). The company's stance is that "DRM is a complicated arena that includes rights management, license management, and file-level rights propagation," according to Worthy. "Our first steps in this direction will be based on specific customer requirements and will most likely include the integration of an invisible digital watermarking tool (such as Digimarc)." These watermarks include a reference ID that can identify the content and then interface with more comprehensive DRM back-end engines.
Looking into the future, "we have an eye towards eventually having a single repository" for all enterprise content, says Worthy, instead of the document/multimedia server separation that Radiant currently employs. This single repository could service all of the departments in an enterprise through custom interfaces and robust metadata management. "But for now it's really more about the flexibility in the user interface," she says.