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Tibco acquisitions add capabilities to analytics platform

The recent completion of Tibco's acquisition of IBI has the potential to benefit customers of both given the complementary qualities of the vendors' platforms.

Tibco has a long history of adding analytics capabilities through acquisitions, and its recent purchase of IBI is the latest example.

Tibco, an analytics vendor founded in 1997 and based in Palo Alto, Calif., reached an agreement to buy IBI -- formerly Information Builders Inc. -- a longtime BI vendor founded in 1975 and based in New York, in October. The purchase received regulatory approval in late December 2020, and officially closed on Jan. 5.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition is the 31st overall for Tibco, which includes the vendor's purchases of Spotfire in 2007, StreamBase Systems in 2013 and Orchestra Networks in 2018. Spotfire now is Tibco's main business intelligence tool. StreamBase forms the base of the vendor's ability to capture continuous intelligence. And Orchestra Networks added cloud-native architecture and enabled Tibco customers to migrate to the cloud.

IBI similarly has additive potential for Tibco. While both are analytics vendors, Tibco's and IBI's areas of expertise differ. Together, they complement one another.

In particular, IBI can add to the capabilities of Tibco's Unify Portfolio, according to Matt Quinn, Tibco's COO. The vendor breaks its platform into three pillars -- Connect, Unify and Predict -- and its Unify Portfolio was built out from Tibco's 2017 acquisition of Cisco's data virtualization operations and addresses data governance and data management.

The acquisition of IBI will add a suite of data quality, preparation and integration tools to the Tibco analytics platform, and WebFocus, IBI's BI tool, can add to the capabilities of Spotfire.

Meanwhile, Tibco's cloud capabilities can benefit IBI's customers, Quinn said.

An organization's distribution data is displayed on a Tibco dashboard.
A Tibco dashboard displays an organization's distribution data.

"We look at two or three things when making an acquisition," Quinn said. "One is whether the technology helps us or if we can help it. It's not just about Tibco but also whether we're doing things that could accelerate their roadmap. The second is if they have strength in a particular area that would be a net add to us. The third is whether customers are fans and whether they are customer-centric."

David Menninger, research director of data and analytics research at Ventana Research, said that Tibco and IBI have the potential to be a good combination.

"While there is some overlap, there are also complementary capabilities," he said. "At first blush you might think there is overlap in the analytics capabilities, but the two companies' strengths lie in different areas."

For example, Menninger noted that Spotfire -- most recently updated in September 2020 -- is a data visualization platform, while IBI's WebFocus is aimed at analyzing more traditional reports and dashboards. Meanwhile, Tibco has tools for capturing streaming and event data while IBI boasts strong data integration and data preparation capabilities.

"I expect Tibco and IBI will invest in building upon the areas where the portfolios are complementary," Menninger said. "The result will be a more complete platform. For example, combining traditional batch analytics with streaming data, and interactive data visualization with the traditional reporting and dashboarding on which most enterprises still rely."

I expect Tibco and IBI will invest in building upon the areas where the portfolios are complementary. The result will be a more complete platform.
David MenningerResearch director of data and analytics research, Ventana Research

Despite the size of Tibco's acquisition of IBI and the time it will take for the two to integrate operations -- Quinn said he hopes the process will be complete by the end of 2021 -- Tibco is not ruling out further acquisitions this year. It's not aggressively looking and is in a more conservative phase than it would be if it weren't currently integrating a major acquisition, but if the right company presented itself Tibco would consider it.

Acquisitions, meanwhile, are not the only way Tibco adds capabilities and attempts to grow its portfolio.

Acquisitions, while bringing the potential to quickly add customers and capabilities, are complicated. Some integrations turn out well, but others take time and still others never work out at all. Even Tibco's acquisition of Spotfire took time to pay dividends with the vendor struggling for a few years to figure out how to best position Spotfire within its analytics portfolio.

"Tibco now has many of the pieces," Menninger said. "However, I think the jury is still out on how well they can integrate the products and provide a common platform -- which today must include cloud-based SaaS offerings. Integrating products through acquisitions has generally proved to be a difficult process requiring years of development effort."

As a result, Quinn said Tibco continues to focus on multiple growth strategies, including expansion of its partnership network and internal innovation.

One major area of internal innovation has been what Tibco terms Hyperconverged Analytics. The vendor introduced the concept in September 2020, and while falling under the Predict Portfolio and centering around analytics, it's simply the blending of visual analysis, streaming data capture and augmented intelligence in a single environment.

A major piece of Hyperconverged Analytics was the release of Spotfire 11 last September, and moving forward will be the integration of WebFocus from IBI.

In addition, Quinn said Tibco's roadmap for 2021 will focus on adding data governance and data management capabilities to enable organizations to deal with the size and ever-increasing number of sources of their data, real-time data capture, and further honing the user experience in the Hyperconverged Analytics environment.

"We're super excited about IBI and love the history the company has had," Quinn said. "We're looking forward to a successful integration. And we have a strong roadmap this year. We're all learning how to develop in a fairly distributed manner [due to the pandemic]. Our leaders are focused and committed, and our customers are loving it."

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