Adaptive: a history

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Content Copyright © 2007 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

I have recently run into a couple of companies that are partnering or are talking about partnering with Adaptive Inc. Now, as it happens, I have been following Adaptive off and on, in one incarnation or another, for a dozen years or more, and neither of these companies has had much idea of its background. From their perspective it was simply a US-based repository vendor and that’s fair enough. I guess that potential users are in much the same boat. However, sometimes it helps to know a little history as that is something we can learn from. So, here’s a potted history of Adaptive.

In 1988, a company called Systematica launched a metaCASE tool called the Virtual Software Factory. Systematica was then acquired by Management Automated Information Technology (MAIT) Ltd. This company renamed Systematica as the Virtual Software Factory (VSF), setting it up as a separate operating company, while changing the product name to the Methods Factory.

MAIT did not survive in business for very long. However, at some point prior to its demise, the Methods Factory had become a vital component in the software development efforts of the National & Provincial Building Society, which had acquired rights to the product, even though it continued to be developed by VSF. In particular, N & P had used the tool extensively in its development efforts and, in particular, in 1994 it set up a team to establish an Enterprise Repository to support its ongoing business process re-engineering efforts. So, when VSF went under, the Building Society took on the VSF staff involved in the repository project.

Subsequently, N & P was bought by Abbey National and, in 1997, a management buy out led to the creation of Adaptive Solutions to develop, deploy and market repository-based solutions based on the work done at N & P and using the VSF product as a repository meta-modelling tool.

Note that Adaptive Solutions at this time, as VSF before it, was headquartered in Poole, Dorset. This continued to be the case certainly well into 2002, by which time Interregnum had become a major investor in the company. Then, in October 2002, Interregnum joined forces with Business Analysis International to establish a new company, Adaptive Inc. At some point after this the company moved its headquarters to the United States.

So, what can we learn from all of this? Well, clearly the company has had a chequered career. Nevertheless, its technology has persisted. That should tell you that this has always been a technology-driven company that has never been particularly good at marketing. Indeed, based on my own experience “not particularly good” would be an over-statement. However, it seems clear from the third party vendors that I have talked to, as well as the partner list that Adaptive can point at, that at least the technology is shining through. Thus, if you are going to talk to Adaptive (and unless the leopard has changed its spots) expect a technical (and probably excellent) pitch and bear in mind that sales and marketing is not their forté.