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Dennis Byron submits: The exhibit floor at the annual AiiM show from March 3-6 in Boston is an instructive walk around for the information technology [IT] investor. AiiM is now known as the Enterprise Content Management [ECM] association but we greybeards will always know it as the Association for Information and Image Management. For a technology junkie like me it is always instructive to be reminded that that the ‘I’ in IT, the information, is really more important than the ‘T.’

So if you’re thinking of investing in ECM, which is arguably something easier to get your arms around in terms of investment research than technology lower in the stack (because ECM is closer to an enterprise’s executives and users in most companies), then AiiM demonstrated that there are no real ECM-specific investment opportunities out there right now. But watch for a few open source software [OSS]-based IPOs one to three years out.

What happened to the pureplay ECM investment opportunities? Stellent became Oracle (NYSE:ORCL), Documentum became EMC2 (NYSE:EMC), CA (NASDAQ:CA) bought MDY, and so forth. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) ECM features are all wound around and integrated into Sharepoint. IBM (NYSE:IBM), which bought FileNet last year, was not at AiiM, confirming my theory that IBM didn’t even buy Filenet for its ECM features. I didn’t see Interwoven (IWOV) either but maybe I missed an aisle. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) was there, nibbling around the edges of ECM, wanting a bigger piece of anything with “enterprise” in the acronym.

There is always an exception of course: Day is listed in Switzerland and Kofax/Dicom in the UK. And Captaris (OTCPK:CAPA) might consider itself a pure play but that’s not the message it gives out via emphasis on business process management. Ditto OpenText ((NASDAQ:OTEX) and in Toronto) and its various product lines.

As for some ECM investment possibilities in the out years, open source companies such as Alfresco were exhibiting and not only positioning themselves as replacements for the Stellents and Documentums of the world but as companies that will redefine ECM. Alfresco was founded by John Newton, also one of the co-founders of Documentum. I didn’t see Nuxeo but Alfresco, Nuxeo and other new OSS ECM players such as Jahia are covered in this free research document available at ebizQ.net. Although not specifically OSS, SpringCM (originally founded in 2005 as DocExchange) will presumably test the IPO waters sometime soon.

Running its own little exhibit within an exhibit in Boston were the founders of the Drupal OSS content management project (but be careful: that’s not the same as enterprise content management), who this week rolled out more details of their for-profit open source effort called Acquia.

And there are still some legs in old-school ECM perhaps; BankTec is making noises about coming out again sooner rather than later.

So if you want to invest in ECM take a breather for 2008 but add the above company names to your Google Alerts.

(As an aside, AiiM is co-located with the On Demand Conference and Exhibition so I went looking for cloud computing and software-as-a-service suppliers only to find I had walked back into that Ozzie and Harriet-era past where people actually printed things and carried around physical representations of intellectual property. On Demand in this case refers to the ability to just print one or two copies of a book, brochure or whatever without having to “fire up the presses.” “On Demand” is already on my confusing buzzwords list but now I have to add a sentence to the definition.)

Source: Enterprise Content Management Investment Opportunites Still a Few Years Off