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Why the acquisition by Open Text was bad for RedDot CMS

Existing partners & customers have two options

  1. Re-invent the wheel and start allover again
    With a vendor that seemed to occur as being able to prove its reliablity over the past 4 years this would become a whole new adventure and requires trust. Something that is likely to have little ground at this time.
  2. Find new technologies and solutions
    Instead of betting on the same horse again partners and customers might re-evaluate all alternate options. There are other CMS solutions out there which compliment the existing experience, the customers existing IT landscape and the budget of their clients.

Both cases require retraining of staff on the partner and the customer side for a new product. Partners and customers would have to pay because the former vendor seemed to behave as if they were focused on their investors revenues not on their customer satisfaction or product improvement.

Stick to what you’re good at

The RedDot CMS has the most compelling editing interface in the ECM market with little or no training requirements due to its intuitive user interface. This put RedDot ahead of others for a long time but the competitors are not far behind and in fact will be taking over soon in several areas unless Open Text does invest in the RedDot CMS core product, improve it and come up with new innovations and better service. Unless of course the plan is the described above. Migrate, Acquire, Migrate, Acquire, … for the better good of all investors out there.

There are Open Text sales guys on the CeBit in Germany this year trying to sell Vignette, Livelink, Artesia and what have you.. They talk about opportunities of SAP or IBM using their products already and maybe even consider acquiring Open Text.
That’s great news! For the investors.

For RedDot CMS this would mean breaking the neck of this CMS for the wider client base of mid-sized enterprises. A mid-size firm doesn’t necessarily need a document management, SAP portal, NetWeaver, personalized website, fax server, … they need a reliable product with great support, a great partner structure to chose from and other important parts like a working partner & customer community.
That is what Open Text needs to throw in to get back on track.

Open Text on a higher level needs to find another approach if they want to keep those customers. Suggesting to buy a new and more expensive Vignette replacement-license to create an entirely new project based on an entirely different technology with a new partner evaluation involved is a bit too much to ask from an existing client which had little support over the last couple of years.

There is light at the end of the tunnel

Before everyone at Open Text now starts sending their Hitmen: I know that there are a lot of good people working for Open Text. In fact I have met many great Open Text employees since I started working with RedDot. And I know they are going to change things and make things better within their influence. Keep up the good work guys!

Open Text customers, don’t panic!

Open Text is doing the right thing in many ways and I am still convinced that this product is one of the best products available on the market in its area(Microsoft technology based, ECM, Usability focused, Delivery platform independent).
All Open Text needs to throw in now is some “RedDot love”. They have good teams in the support, just not enough and certainly not enough in development & maintenance of the product. That’s the internal Open Text side.
The external side is a community which works with Open Text and Open Text has to open up for them. Partners should be able to provide solutions, a forum should be in place to catch those annoying standard support inquiries which are tripling up support cost and taking time away from the real troublemakers.

Open Text guys, share holders and customers, start acting!

The entire ECM vendor market is still like 1999 when it comes to customer integration. This is YOUR opportunity. If you work for Open Text you should forward this article to the right person. If you don’t dare to do it publicly there are anonymous ways.

Here is your rescue plan to stop losing former happy clients

  1. Show us your own ECM 2.0 capabilities with User Participation (not to speak of 3.0)
    Claiming to offer social media solutions but not being able to live and breathe what one is selling doesn’t work. Especially not in the social media sector. Start living social media. Show your customers how you incorporate user participation within your products.
  2. Open up the black hole that your support is
    Your support is slow and can’t fix the real issues because you have to support & manage customers with the same sort of issues over and over again instead of publicly offering a proper solution once. Here is a secret: Your customers talk about the same problems and they don’t understand why they’re not seeing the benefit of your collective experience of dealing with these same issues over and over again.
  3. Reinforce research & development
    By opening up the support channels in both directions you will decrease overhead from research and development. This allows more time for stabilizing products and more time for innovation.
  4. Create an innovation channel
    How do you know what your clients want? After-sales is practically non-existant at Open Text. I have never heard of a customer being asked what they need within their existing Open Text suite. Either a partner agency has to take care of it (and I assure you they do) or clients have to wait for innovation (hasn’t happened for 4 years). Ensure that your ideas platform is available, properly tested for more than one browser and is in a stable supported environment. Motivate your customers to give public feedback and discuss it.

Open Text investors – This is how you protect your investment

Unless “Open Text is where CMS’s go to die“, because the business model might be merger and acquisitions consider the following:

  1. Demand transparency
    Not just for yourself but for Open Text’s customer base. If Open Text’s business model is growth through acquisition then you are at some point surely interested in customer retention. Otherwise you invest into a bubble which will burst sooner or later when the acquired systems don’t grow organically into the space of market requirements.
  2. Re-invest to protect growth
    Re-invest into better support & maintenance as well as innovations. Open Text has great minds with sometimes it seems too little budgets to ensure your investment will grow in a sustainable way. There are thousands of ideas within Open Text and the surrounding network to keep things growing. And it’s within your hands if you let your revenue channel die or ensure it stays vibrant.
  3. Worship your capital
    Behind your share revenue (at least from a RedDot side) according to the annual report is maintenance work(around 50%). This requires customers. Worship them and if you don’t just keep on reading.

Open Text customers – Communicate your interests

If you are an Open Text customer then communicate your interests. Send this article to your sales representative. Discuss it with other customers and your Open Text partner agency. Signalize your requirements. And if you don’t feel like anyone is listening openly present your exit strategy. Get your ROI and when you are considering a licensing renewal check other options.

In short and RedDot specific:

If you don’t get anything question yourself – Why would you give anything back?

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About the author:

Markus Giesen Markus Giesen is a Solutions Architect and RedDot CMS Consultant, formerly based in Germany. Travelling around the world to find and offer solutions for a better world (in a very web based meaning). He just found a way to do this as part of a Melbourne based online consultant house. On this blog Markus shares his personal (not his employers) thoughts and opinions on CMS and web development. In his spare time you will find him reading, snowboarding or travelling. Also, you should follow him on Twitter!


8 comments for “Why the acquisition by Open Text was bad for RedDot CMS”

  1. Fantastic read! I just started upgrading to version 10 of RedDot (I refuse to call it the other thing) I am a bit concerned that in a few months we will have to move to something else, or be unsupported

    Posted by Chris | March 15, 2010, 1:21 pm
  2. I believe RedDot will be around a bit longer. But as revenue decreases and investors decide to not re-invest in development and research the product will disappear. And then the next CMS product will be acquired and then Vignette will cease.. A never ending story.
    Where vendors ever customer focused?

    Posted by Markus Giesen | March 16, 2010, 2:00 am
  3. Well done, Markus.

    Posted by Tiffany France | March 16, 2010, 9:00 pm
  4. Open Text is dedicated to supporting both the RedDot CMS and LiveServer and the Vignette products going forward – this strategy has not changed since it was announced last year. There are many good points here but also a few inaccuracies. For more detailed comments, I have posted a response at


    Posted by Marci Maddox | March 17, 2010, 6:04 am
  5. The 10.0 release was quite good on both sides. (CMS and LiveServer) Look forward to the 10.1 release this summer. Is it a release with substance? That counts.

    Posted by Christoph Straßer | March 17, 2010, 10:56 am
  6. Nice post man.
    It sounds like nothing has changed in the time of my personal reddot abstinence. =)

    Posted by Eugen Kraft | March 18, 2010, 11:49 am
  7. Excellent post and good analysis.

    How should RedDot survive if there is at least not a single sales person left who is dedicated to the product and who is trying to make competitors happy?

    Posted by Christoph Mause | March 18, 2010, 12:50 pm
  8. Nice post (even if it sounds a bit scary for RedDot customers).

    Reading it I thought that one might be able to get a glimpse of RedDot’s future by looking at how VIP and Obtree were handled.

    Posted by Michael | March 22, 2010, 10:42 am

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