FileNet, a company now owned and assimilated by IBM, developed software to help enterprises manage their content and business processes. The FileNet P8 platform, their flagship system, is a framework for developing custom enterprise systems, offering much functionality out of the box and capable of being customized to manage a specific business process.

Based in Costa Mesa, California, the company markets Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Business Process Management (BPM) solutions in more than 90 countries through its own global sales, services and support organizations, as well as via its ValueNet Partner network of resellers, system integrators and application developers.


FileNet was founded in 1982 by Ted Smith. It was the first company to create a commercially successful document imaging solution for businesses, in March 1985. The state of computer technology at the time forced FileNet to produce not only software but also provide the necessary hardware for its software to run on. This included customized workstations running FDOS (FileNet Distributed Operating System), with special graphic cards for high-resolution monitors 19-inches and larger; and OSAR (Optical Storage and Retrieval), a robotic optical storage jukebox storing 64 2.6-gigabyte optical disks. FileNet also released the first commercial Business Process Management (BPM) software, called WorkFlo, in 1985.

FileNet later enhanced their software offering by launching their "C.O.L.D." (Computer Output to Laser Disc) software in 1986 for storing print streams, thus eliminating the need to print them. COLD is now used to refer to the entire category of capture software which FileNet started.

Acquisition of Watermark, Saros and Greenbar

In the early 1990s, FileNet realized its document management solution was incomplete without electronic document management, a capability which it gained through the acquisition of Saros Corporation in 1995. FileNet also acquired Watermark Software, a very successful low-end document imaging solution, Watermark Enterprise and Ensemble, and a Windows-based COLD product called Greenbar. This would help FileNet be the first document management company to have a complete "Integrated Document Management" suite with document imaging, electronic document management, COLD and workflow offerings. Around the same time, FileNet delivered their own internally developed entry-level system called Workgroup. The Watermark products were retired by 1999.

In the mid-1990s, FileNet's WorkFlo Business System had evolved into Visual WorkFlo, one of the first workflow solutions with a graphical interface for process modeling. Visual Workflo is considered a production workflow, a type of workflow software created for the automation of mission-critical, high-volume and high-complexity business processes.


As a result of their Integrated Document Management strategy, FileNet rebranded the entire product line — the original IMS products, the Saros products, and the newly-developed client IDM products — as the Panagon software suite in 1998.

The Panagon Suite included the following products:

  • Panagon Image Services (high-end imaging solution formerly known as IMS)
  • Panagon Content Services (EDM solution, previously known as Saros Mezzanine)
  • Panagon Report Manager (COLD solution formerly known as Greenbar)
  • Panagon Desktop (new client interface created for the Panagon Suite)
  • Panagon Web Services (new web interface with a common code base with Panagon Desktop; replaced Saros @Mezzanine)
  • Panagon eProcess (Workflow Automation Solution built on top the Visual WorkFlo engine)

In January 2001 FileNet released Acenza as an entrée into the applications marketplace. Acenza was not broadly adopted and was later retired from the market.

Recent Events

In January 2002 FileNet announced BrightSpire, an application that was eventually rebranded as FileNet P8 ECM. There are a number of FileNet P8 ECM suites that leveraged the experience gained from integrated document management, web content management, and workflow into an integrated Enterprise Content Management (ECM) platform. In addition, it took the Workflow products and further developed analysis and optimization components with the Panagon Process Analyzer and Process Simulator, respectively. This enables organizations to analyze and improve processes. This move took FileNet into the Business Process Management field (BPM), and it is regarded as a leader in this growing area.

In April 2002, FileNet acquired Bethesda, MD based eGrail Corporation to add Web Content Management (WCM) to both the Panagon and FileNet P8 ECM families of products.

In April 2003, FileNet added eForms capabilities to the Panagon and P8 products with the acquisition of long time form software vendor Shana Corporation of Edmonton, Canada.

Also in 2003 FileNet extended the P8 suite extending compliance capabilities with the P8 Records Manager solution which helps companies solve regulatory compliance and records issues. In 2004 FileNet added Team Collaboration Manager, built on the P8 platform it is an out-of-the box solution that helps organisations to be more agile and competitive by allowing virtual team members to work together across functional and geographical areas.

Late in 2005 FileNet acquired Yaletown Technology Group of Canada, formerly a FileNet ValueNet Partner; this allowed them to further their capabilities in managing different types of content in the FileNet P8 ECM platform with the Email Manager product (which they had been exclusively marketing in an OEM agreement and was formerly sold as eCW) and furthered their reach into compliance with Records Crawler, formerly known as Universal File Importer or UFI.

They also extended their Business Process Management capabilities releasing the Business Activity Monitor (BAM) solution, which provides real-time event management and visibility of business performance data to enhance operational responsiveness and decision making.

IBM Acquires FileNet

On August 10 2006, IBM agreed to acquire FileNet for US$1.6 billion dollars in cash (about US$35 per share). The transaction closed on October 12 2006.


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