The big sub-plot at this year’s Tibco Now conference in San Francisco is, of course, what the impact might be following the company’s acquisition by the equity management company, Vista Equity Partners, for $4.3 billion. This is even more the case as said acquisition has still to be completed and could fall at the last hurdle.The fact that Vista’s Primary Operating Principal, Martin Taylor, made an appearance to set out the partnership’s plans no doubt went a good may towards steadying the nerves of Tibco users that they are likely to be abandoned in any way. If the acquisition proves to be as fulfilling as the picture Taylor painted during the first morning’s keynote presentation, it is possible they may find some additional advantages they had not expected.
According to Taylor , Vista is not like the archetypal equity management business looking to acquire companies only to strip them out and sell element off at a profit:
Vista is very different. We are building out an operations platform, and we look for good ideas, companies that are already good. We are only focused on software, data and tech-enabled businesses and have never lost money on any transaction yet.
The company estimates that its total portfolio places it as sixth or seventh largest private software business in the world with some $6 billion in collective revenues. It also plans to foster partnerships between businesses in the portfolio as and when they make business sense. Tibco’s CTO, Matt Quinn did indicate that he is aware that this could open up some new development avenues for the company once the acquisition is completed.
Vista’s objective is to bring product management skills and focus to its acquisitions that is based on it being a private company, and with that in mind Taylor answered the obvious question: so why Tibco?. He said:
It is mission critical to its customers, with technology leadership. Every one of our companies are top three in their respective markets. The Tibco fast data platform fills the need to be able to give users the data and results they need as fast as they need it - usually as near real time as possible.
`Fast data’ is now Tibco’s clear mantra for the future, coupled with the goal of continuing to work to make it easier to achieve. This may seem a bit like `more of the same’ from the company and, to some extent, this is true.
But as CEO Vivek Ranadive, pointed out during his keynote, the company’s objective is to continue giving users the right data they require, at the time they require it, in the format that allows them to exploit it, and in a context that makes business sense so that their time to value from the data is a short as possible.
To that end, does mean that annual conferences can sometimes appear to have a familiar ring to them, for the underlying need for users looking to build highly collaborative and integrated business environments need some consistency underpinning everything. Ranadive’s observation that every business is a social network tied to perishable inventories is worth repeating, for with the continued development of mobiles and cloud services it is a factor that many of Tibco’s customers now have to understand about their businesses.This was a point pressed home to the audience by guest presenter, well-known author and New Yorker Magazine pundit, Malcom Gladwell. He used the history of the humble shipping container to demonstrate that, for many businesses, the markets they think they are in may no longer be relevant to the way the world is moving and that they will need to be ready to go through the re-framing transformations that need to be undertaken in order to survive.
What this continues to point to is the requirement for everything to be connected, as the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Murray Rode, observed:
This is the case across all sorts of businesses and it is also much more about the velocity of data than the shear volume of it. This needs a different architecture and infrastructure to deal with it. This means being able to discover data, perform analytics on that data, and initiating and managing the events that follow on from that. And it is about being able to integrate them all together.
Rode sees such technologies turning everyone into a `CIO’, but that does make improving the availability through more mobile formsm and overall ease of use two of Tibco’s important goals for the future. He sees ease of consumption now being driven by the use of a strong cloud first design ethic, with better availability coming through wider use of more annuity-based commercial models such as subscriptions. He also expects to see more communities of common interest springing up creating self-help networks. He said:
We want to make easy things simple, and make the impossible doable. Our goal is to implement a 90:90:90 model where it takes someone 90 seconds to identify the product or service they require, 90 minutes to install it and prove it is worth using, and 90 days to make it a strategic choice. Users are always looking for a faster time to value.
New product announcements at the event have largely been of the `latest version’ variety, with improvements that fill the ease of use and faster fast data goals of the company. For example, version 6.2 of ActiveMatrix BusinessWorks is aimed at accelerating applications development with new SaaS plugins for Salesforce.com, Marketo, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Improving collaboration with such services has also prompted the development of one of the few new services at the event, TIBCO Simplr.
This is aimed at users looking to connect and share data between popular applications such as Salesforce and Marketo, prominent social networks, or web analytic services such as Spotfire Cloud. Users can choose from ready-to-use recipes or create their own. They just define how to integrate data without any infrastructure. At launch it specifically provides broad support for marketing automation applications, though the company says that future connectivity is slated for other types of applications such as human resources.
Version 4.0 of MDM Studio aims to give customers new tools to build custom applications and user interfaces for the management of master data, while ActiveMatrix BPM 3.1 introduces the latest JasperReports Server from the company’s recent JasperSoft acquisition. This aims to provide out-of-the-box adaptable dashboards for all styles of business processes. And version 6 of LogLogic introduces new features to simplify the process of deriving value from machine data.
This year’s conference may not be the most exciting the hitech world has ever seen, but Tibco’s push towards not just fast data but all the other elements that go to make up delivering fast value in a highly connected world for business users is just what is needed.
And the addition of moving into the privately held world of Vista Equity Partners may be just what is needed. Public ownership is proving to be increasingly dangerous ground for hitech companies, and Tibco could well benefit from a combination of continued investment, a management safety net and the freedom to pursue new developments in what is going to continue to be a fast-changing and developing market sector.