Axon acquires content expert Office Automation Software

Axon has bought Auckland-based enterprise content management specialist Office Automation Software (OAS) for an undisclosed sum. Service provider Axon signalled last year it was on the acquisition trail. CEO Scott Green said at the time he was looking to deliver converged “telco-like services”. The OAS buy does not fit that bill, but Green is clear that more buy-outs are on the way.

OAS is Axon’s first acquisition since 1995. OAS staff are expected to take up residence at Axon’s Newmarket headquarters within a month.

Green says when Axon delivered its internal vision last November, 11 initiatives were identified for action. These covered a “broad spectrum”, he says, including virtualisation, software-as-a-service, convergence and other areas as well as a more general drive to increase the business value Axon provides to customers.

The OAS buy will boost Axon’s capabilities in a key area of market growth as new compliance requirements, such as the Public Records Act and Electronic Transactions Act, bite, says Green.

Office Automation Software has been operating since the early 2000s, but the team there has been working in enterprise content management market for 15 years.

Green says the acquisition complements what Axon already does in storage management, security, email and other areas, but OAS also extends and deepens the services that can be delivered by addressing issues such as duplication, proliferation, version control and governance.

He says the markets in which the two companies operate are also complementary and they share several key clients. On top of that, he says, the organisations have a compatible sales culture.

OAS has what he calls “deep-dive expertise” in technologies such as SharePoint and Interwoven and 80-20 Software (for governance, risk and compliance).

“The intellectual property, customer base and market reputation of OAS is very significant,” Green says.

OAS clients include the Department of Conservation, Public Trust, and large legal firms Hesketh Henry and Simpson Grierson.

OAS co-founder Grant Sewell has a 15-year history in ECM. In the 1990s he was a co-founder of Imaging Solutions, which was responsible for early document management projects such as that supporting the Winebox Inquiry.

In 2003, in partnership with entrepreneur Rod Drury, Sewell helped establish email management and archiving company, AfterMail, which was sold to NASDAQ-listed Quest Software in 2006.

Sewell says ECM has evolved from a series of point solutions, such as document scanning, to become a very broad, complicated subject requiring specialist skills.

He says demand, driven by compliance, is increasing steadily, to the point where there is an ECM tender up in New Zealand almost every week

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