Enterprise content management specialists Hummingbird announced a new partnership with Microsoft under which the two companies will work to integrate their current and future technologies.
Under the strategic relationship, specific terms of which were not released, Hummingbird will offer out-of-the-box links into Microsoft Office XP and Outlook 2003 applications, as well as the firms SharePoint collaboration server software.
Hummingbird said it would also work with Microsoft to develop new ECM tools, specifically for the software makers next-generation Office 12 package, and provide joint field service support for customers using both companies products.
Hummingbird officials estimated that roughly 90 percent of the firms 35,000 customers are running their business IT operations on Microsofts software.
"We believe that this brings validity to the space in that Microsoft is aggressively entering the market," said Barry Litwin, chief executive of Hummingbird.
"Building an enterprise platform that is scalable and easy-to-use is a key to the market, since a bulk of customers spend their work days sitting in the Microsoft environment."
Based on the integration work, Hummingbirds ECM software interface will more closely mirror popular Microsoft products such as its Outlook e-mail package, Litwin said.
The executive contends that by tying the companies technologies together customers will have far greater ability to manage data across different applications, and encourage workers to use Hummingbirds software with greater frequency and effectiveness.
"This will make it far easier for customers to work with content in the way they want to," Litwin said. "As much as possible, we should be convincing people that the right system for them to use for ECM is already there, and encouraging them to access it."
"Our goal is to transform the Microsoft desktop into an [ECM] solutions enablement platform without asking them to leave the Microsoft interface."
Enterprise content management technologies are used by businesses to capture, manage, store, preserve and deliver information and documents related to their organizational processes.
ECM tools and strategies are increasingly aimed at allowing for management of organizations so-called unstructured data, or information stored in nontraditional formats such as instant messaging applications.
Microsoft officials said that the integration between Hummingbirds products and Outlook alone should provide immediate benefits to companies using both of their technologies.
"We feel this partnership really extends the whole value proposition for our customers who are information workers," said Robert Bernard, general manager of Global ISVs at Microsoft. "It allows us to collectively deliver high-volume content to our mutual customers."
A recent study released by trade group ECM Association found that content management concerns are weighing heavily in organizations investment decisions around storage technologies, among other things.
In the latest version of the groups AIIM Industry Watch report, three out of every 10 users reported that over 40 percent of their total storage budgets were focused on better capturing unstructured documents and information, and that many large organizations are actively working to consolidate and rationalize their information storage and archiving strategies.
The ECM Association contends that cost savings were not the primary driver behind most companies consolidation strategies, and said that 41 percent of is survey respondents cited business continuity as a catalyst, followed by providing access to information across the organization (40 percent) and reducing litigation risks (38 percent).