With the Lexis/Microsoft ‘dream team’ solution ready to unveil itself in a few months the industry has been waiting to see how Elite and Aderant were going to react and while most commentators have so far pointed to an ‘improved matter management position’ for Elite’s clients, a little more analysis points towards this being a stroke of genius for three main reasons; technology, people and an Aderant spoling market share.
FWBS have been a bit of a best kept secret in technology terms. While Aderant with Expert and Elite with 3E have been bashing heads to win or convert sites with two arguably immature and rushed to market products, FWBS have quietly been producing a .net based innovative solution that sits inside Outlook and delivers a richly functional matter management solution with an intuitive interface.
Unfortunately for FWBS however, a great product is not always enough and whilst they had made significant ground in the last year, FWBS were often seen as a ‘small law’ solution or a product that complimented one of the other ‘leading’ accounting solutions. This is partly because elements of their offering are more modulised than others allowing firms to cherry pick with the matter intake process arguably being the best in the current market. It is for this reason and the fact that both Aderant and Elite were made better by combining FWBS’s solution that makes this a particularly clever deal for Thomson.
The acquisition as well as enhancing Elite’s offering, acts as a huge spoiler for Aderant. Assuming the FWBS matter management and matter inception products are no longer available to Aderant, it leaves them with a huge hole in their solution. With Aderant development still focussed on the core accounting functionality of Expert, there has been an inevitable reliance on third parties to provide fully functional inception, reporting and time recording bolt ons – with FWBS out of the picture new alliances are likely going to be top of the agenda in the coming weeks/months.
One assumes the FWBS development team are doing a great job but the front of house in Alister Wyld and Mark Craddock have demonstrated a level of professionalism the others could only envy. Both Elite and Aderant have suffered well documented talent exoduses in recent times but now Thomsons have acquired more than just great technology with FWBS.
The race is on…
3E, which is a complete rewrite of an industry standard solution in .net was always a bold move and hasn’t been without its problems but this acquisition has the potential to not only position Elite as market leader but at the same time make Aderant’s owners wonder what they do next.
Elite are possibly pulling out of the pit lane just as Lexis thought they were going to overtake. Aderant are left changing their slicks as dark clouds start to appear.