SAP made a major departure from its "tuck-in" strategy with the October 7 announcement of its agreement to acquire Business Object for 4.8 billion (Euro). On the surface, the deal makes sense from the standpoint of marrying business intelligence (BI) technology with ERP applications. The deal is surprising in the sense that SAP has long insisted that its growth strategy is organic and that it would not make major acquisitions to gain market share. The Business Objects deal is by far the largest SAP acquisition to date, comparable in scope to Oracle’s acquisitions of PeopleSoft, Siebel and Hyperion.
SAP and Business Objects today announced that the companies have reached an agreement for SAP to acquire Business Objects for approximate sum of slightly above 4.8 billion euro. Forrester has been predicting this continued market consolidation for some time — see our Microsoft Buys Proclarity and Oracle Buys Hyperion research documents, as well as a couple of my earlier blogs on the subject. SAP must be feeling a lot of pain and pressure to make such a significant move — SAP executives have been telling the world for years that they prefer small, tuck-in acquisitions. The deal though does make a lot of sense. In one transaction SAP gets the best of breed set of BI tools with full BI stack capabilities, everything from data integration tools like ETL and data quality to reporting, OLAP, dashboards, text analytics and many others. This deal has multiple implications to enterprise software users, especially for those 30-40% from the common SAP/BOBJ customer base:
Business Objects users will gain from SAP’s domain expertise. In the era of increasingly commoditized products and services, domain expertise and industry specific solutions are key differentiating factors for any enterprise software vendor.
I am chomping at the bit about the 3D Internet (of which virtual worlds and massive multi-player online games are early iterations). What I see is its potential to improve my work experience dramatically — and the work experience of information workers world-over. Not that I've got it rough — I am privileged to be able to work from my home office in rural Rhode Island when I'm not on the road. But working remotely has two major downsides:
Backup is a struggle for both enterprises and small and medium businesses. It’s a complex ecosystem of backup software, networks, servers, disk arrays, and tape systems. Most companies report they are having difficulty completing backups in the time available and when backups fail or complete with errors, it’s often very difficult to discover the root cause. Couple those troubles with the fact that the amount of data that you need backed up is growing conservatively at 30% to 50% per year. Aside from these challenges, most companies are also interested in keeping backups longer for version history and companies are interested in the ability to perform much faster restores if they could.
Given the headaches associated with backup, many small and medium business and even some enterprises are choosing to outsource their backups all together to a service provider. There are already numerous players in the marketplace from Evault (which is resold by a number of different service providers) to Iron Mountain, to your telecommunication provider, and to emerging entrants such as Berkeley Data Systems and its Mozy service offering. This opportunity is so huge that even Symantec (which acquired Veritas) launched a beta of its own online backup service called the Symantec Protection Network. EMC’s acquisition of Berkeley Data Systems is just further proof that the online backup market is a huge opportunity.
Last week at Forrester's Technology Leadership Forum conference in Carlsbad, CA, I did 3 presentations and workshops on collaboration — and Information Workplace (IW)-related topics, all of which turned into highly interactive discussions. I'll find out when I see the participants' feedback whether this was good or bad, but in one of these sessions we never got past the agenda slide. During the 2-day event I also had 16 one-on-one meetings with attendees and spoke with many other people informally during meals and breaks. A few things jumped out at me. Today, information and knowledge management professionals:
I’m not usually one for ‘this-could-happen-to-you’ stories, but I’m still having trouble getting over last month’s story about grocery giant Tesco having to turn over 11 million emails to the UK’s Competition Commission for their investigation into possible anti-competitive practices against its suppliers.
Part of a successful Identity Management (IdM) project is a successful role discovery and mapping phase. Many organizations -- after having mapped and optimized their business processes -- turn to role design and management solutions (VAUU RBACx, BHOLD, Oracle's BridgeStream, and others). While these solutions give a great initial insight into the existing role structure, they are not the only source of role interrelationship information. Role design can build
many other sources: demographics mined from helpdesk tickets from users requesting access, job descriptions, quality management systems (it certain cases this is wishful thinking...), and increasingly from Enterprise or Desktop eSSO solutions (PassLogix, ActivIdentity, CA). eSSO solutions store multiple login credentials for users to multiple applications. As such, extracting account linkage, mapping and correlating user IDs between user repositories based
access information built by end-users is much more reliable than any artificial role mining logic, usually based
SAP's official announcement of Business ByDesign, formerly known as A1S, targets midsize companies looking for relief from complicated ERP implementations and support. Some key points regarding the Business ByDesign (BBD) announcement:
• The solution will be provided as a hosted, subscription service
• A dedicated website enables a try-before-you-buy sales approach, where customers can rapidly configure a demo system that reflects their needs
• Pricing is set at $149 per user, per month, with an nominal charge for self-service users
• The scope of the offering is comprehensive, spanning finance, HR, supply chain, supplier relationship management, CRM, project management and compliance management.
• SAP has 20 live early adopters and another 20 that are actively engaged in rolling the solution out. The initial emphasis is on US and Germany, with expansion to more markets in 2008 and 2009.
Web 2.0 is hitting the preschool set, as children's TV favorite Sesame Street is now producing a weekly video podcast. Each video podcast is five minutes long and features content repurposed from the show’s broadcasts. The content is available as a download on the show’s Web site and via an RSS feed, as well as through iTunes (apparently to help keep the wee ones occupied and educated while they're being dragged around town on errands).
So even the Muppets are finding new ways of engaging their customers by distributing Web 2.0-type content through multiple channels. Hope they’re using a digital asset management system and a good solid taxonomy while they’re at it.
Yet another rumor crossed the wires today about Business Objects getting ready for a takeover. These rumors have come up before, and it may be nothing else but a routine exercise that BO and other vendors go through to test the market periodically.
As I already blogged back in March '07, there's no denying however that the business intelligence (BI) and business performance solutions (BPS) markets are consolidating. Last year Microsoft bought ProClarity; this year Oracle bought Hyperion, Business Objects acquired Carthesis, SAP acquired Outlooksoft, and most recently Cognos acquired Applix.
I predict that within 2-3 years there will be five major BI vendors carving up the BI and BPS market: Microsoft, IBM, SAP, Oracle and HP. There'll be much M&A activity seen from these vendors in the near future.
Here's how I see it playing out:
HP will probably make the next big move by acquiring somebody like Business Objects, Cognos or SAS. HP is pushing into BI market very strongly: It repositioned NeoView as a strong data warehouse (DW) platform and bought Knightsbridge — leading BI boutique strategy and implementation consultancy. It'd make a lot of sense for HP to pick up BO or SAS, since in one transaction HP would get the entire BI and PM suite. Cognos would be the second choice for them, since Cognos does not have operational ETL and data quality offerings.
SAP told us repeatedly that they can't justify very large acquisitions — it doesn't fit their model. So Microstrategy, Actuate or Information Builders would be more obvious pick up choices for them.
I sincerely hope that Oracle is more than busy with Hyperion integration and more than set in the BI and BPS markets for a while. I don't see the next big move coming from them.