Hummingbird to Acquire PC Docs Group

Hummingbird Communications Ltd. (<A HREF=""></A>) widened its business scope to include document and knowledge management with this month’s agreement to acquire PC Docs Group (<A HREF=""></A>) for $155 million.

Hummingbird Communications Ltd. ( widened its business scope to include document and knowledge management with this month’s agreement to acquire PC Docs Group ( for $155 million. PC Docs had about $136 million in revenue for the year ending in June 1998, roughly Hummingbird’s equal in sales volume. Hummingbird also announced plans to divide its business into two groups, combining PC Docs with Hummingbird’s existing business intelligence line and running its connectivity business as a separate division.

Hummingbird entered the business intelligence market last year through acquisitions, including Andyne Computing Ltd. The company has wanted to move that intelligence to the Web space. The problem, however, was developing a front end to be the hub for users to find structured and unstructured data. The technology from PC Docs Group brings the ability to access unstructured data.

The Enterprise Knowledge Portal (EKP) will be the first product to emerge from the PC Docs acquisition. EKP, which combines Hummingbird's ability to access structured data with PC Docs technology, will be Hummingbird's front end to view that information from the Web. EKP is scheduled for a November release, six months after the acquisition’s expected close in May. Hummingbird’s connectivity division will focus on NFS Maestro, Exceed and other connectivity solutions.

Technologies that Hummingbird officials hope businesses will access through the portal include query and reporting tools, online analytical processing (OLAP), data mining, document management, information retrieval, content analysis and categorization. Fred Sorkin, president and CEO of Hummingbird, provided an example of a sales representative searching for information on a specific client. With the portal, that rep would see structured data -- static files laying somewhere in the database -- and unstructured data -- e-mail correspondences, Web sites and other non-categorized data.

The whole premise of a one-stop portal is easier said than done, says Mike Gotta, program director for workgroup computing strategies at Meta Group ( Gotta says integrating all of these technologies can lead to failure. Some vendors may focus their energy vertically, aiming at certain pieces of the portal, but Gotta explains the companies who want to bridge the gap and be a true broker or hub need to be able to harvest the information from these sources.

Rubin Osten, president and CEO of PC Docs Group, says he realizes Hummingbird doesn't have all the pieces yet, such as comprehensive work flow management and ETL tools. But he explains it's only a matter of time until Hummingbird acquires those technologies from other vendors.

Hummingbird combines its business intelligence tools in its BI Suite, which competes with integrated offerings from a number of vendors including Business Objects SA (, Cognos Inc. ( and Seagate Software Inc. ( Another company positioned for the business intelligence portal subset of that market is Brio Technology Inc. ( Brio recently announced a deal to buy enterprise reporting vendor Sqribe Technologies (, which already offers a portal (see page 26). Information Advantage Inc. ( and Intraspect Software ( are also in the emerging enterprise portal market.