Open Text acquires Spicer's viewer software

Buys grants it access into engineering shops and asset-intensive organizations.

Open Text has bought document viewing technology from Spicer and plans to incorporate the products into its enterprise content management software line.

Open Text, whose products include LiveLink ECM, DOCS Open and eDCOS Records Management, said Thursday it plans to acquire "substantially all" of the assets of Spicer for CDN$12 million (AUD$12.2 m).

Previous acquisitions include Hummingbird, IXOS, Artesia Technologies, Gauss, Eloquent and Corechange.

Spicer's product line includes Imagenation, which is designed to let users open and markup computer-aided design (CAD) and other engineering documents. It also includes application programming interfaces (APIs) which can allow links to software such as Lotus Notes, SPA and Xerox Docuplex.

"Where Spicer typically plays is among engineering shops and asset-intensive organizations like utilities and things like that," said George Goodall, senior research analyst with the InfoTech Research Group. "This is an area where we see Open Text picking up some traction and essentially dealing with large documents, drawings and things that these organizations have to deal with."

Open Text will rename the Spicer operations it buys to the Content Viewer Solutions Group, Open Text president John Shackleton stated in a letter to Spicer customers. He also promised all of their Spicer business contacts would remain the same.

Open Text's customers include government departments and law firms. Version 10 of Livelink ECM is designed to give users one view of business information and links to software from other vendors, including SAP, Oracle and Microsoft. It has several components designed for different business processes, such as managing contracts, publishing manuals and procedures, and completing business forms.

Open Text officials were not immediately available for comment, but the company stated the Spicer technology will "complement and extend Open Text's existing ECM suite" and give users "flexible document viewing options."

Spicer Imagenation lets users scan and view documents from formats including TIFF, CALS, JPEG and PDF. They can also perform cleanup tasks and rotate, despeckle and crop the images. Spicer's viewing software can help IT departments cut costs by not having to install CAD software on every user's desktop, Goodall said.

"As an IT manager what you don't want to have to do is put a copy of AutoCAD on every single desktop because that gets very, very expensive," Goodall said. "Ideally what you want to do is extend those applications to those who need it. If somebody's looking for a drawing or a document they can view it without going to the native tools."

Other recent Open Text announcements include the addition of Web 2.0 capabilities for Livelink. Dubbed Enterprise Content Management Extended Collaboration, the software lets employees communicate through groups, wikis, blogs, forums and other online collaboration tools. It is designed to let companies setup forums on both the public Internet and on private corporate intranets open either to employees only, or to customers, suppliers and partners.

The company also announced earlier this year the SharePoint Edition of Case Management Framework, which lets companies create and retire cases, and includes search, subscription and metadata inheritance capabilities.

Other recent corporate activities include a $10 million contribution towards the University of Waterloo's Stratford Institute, which will include academic programs that combine business, digital media and technology.

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