Oracle announced today that it will be acquiring ATG for US$6.00 a share, or about $1B. This has been long rumored, as many in the industry saw this as a highly likely pairing. Not only are the solution sets very complementary, but this also allows each to address gaps in their solution portfolios. Oracle has had a significant hole in terms of eCommerce capability needed by its ERP, CRM, and supply chain clients. ATG has lacked enterprise order management and CRM capabilities required by its more sophisticated clients. Together these offerings will make a compelling pairing, though productization and packaging of the offering may remain a challenge for the near future.
Some additional thoughts:
Commerce is converging and client needs will span channels and capability. The trend of “dropping the e from eCommerce” is something we have been talking about for some time, as eCommerce solutions are leveraged not only on the Web but also in the call center, to drive mobile commerce, and increasingly in the store or branch. This is now becoming something our clients at Forrester are looking for in their next generation of commerce solutions. For Oracle this trend was beginning to present a threat as it lacked a capable B2C-oriented eCommerce platform. For ATG this represents a response to the moves IBM and GSI have made to develop cross-channel enterprise commerce solutions.
Don't worry that ATG will get buried in a bone yard. I expect ATG’s products to gain additional wind at their back while also focusing on their core differentiators of merchandising tools, commerce content capability, and driving relevance at the customer touchpoints. Oracle's acquisition can also clarify the answers to ATG's questions related to order management and supply chain requirements.
Demand for eCommerce solutions continues to be strong. This is fueled by homegrown and older applications under strain from growing businesses, by strategic multichannel initiatives, and by the cost to maintain these legacy systems. As evidence, 57% of online retailers have increased their eCommerce technology spending in 2010, and 27% of US online retailers are planning to replatform in the next 18 months.
This is a transformative time in eCommerce. Platform solutions are changing rapidly. New solutions are coming available, and the current platforms are maturing quickly into multichannel solutions. We are very close to seeing the “e” drop from eCommerce Platform. And we are seeing that in our client inquiries and projects as well as seeing it in the evolving platform products.
We are in a highly transformative time as changing customer expectations, commerce capabilities, and technology continue to evolve rapidly. Initiatives that just a few short years ago would have seemed a long way off — such as mobile commerce, app stores, multichannel order management, or embedding shopping on Facebook — are now squarely on the priority list of eCommerce business and technology leaders. And as consumer expectations, client needs, and the competitive environment continue to evolve, pressure on executives to make the right choices in technology and operational capabilities continues to mount. With this research, we highlight what every exec should know as they navigate these choices and position their company to succeed and fully capitalize on the transformation technology is enabling across their business.
As we have talked to many executives across many verticals consistent questions emerge on how to work ahead of these changes and stay ahead of the curve. The report we just published today looks to address these questions, based on many conversations across the vendor and client community and across verticals.
GSI Commerce has been making a lot of news of late with acquisitions and a reshaping on their business from a full-service eCommerce provider to an eCommerce and marketing services company. I had the pleasure recently of asking Michael Rubin, founder and CEO of GSI, a series of questions in order to better understand how the company is changing and what we can look for in the future from the company.
1) FORRESTER: From the outside it appears that GSI has changed a lot over the last few years, from a full-service eCommerce solution provider to a company with many different offerings. How do you explain what GSI is today? How do you see that continuing to evolve?
So as I work on my presentation, I am thinking maybe I should cast a net and see what you, our well-informed and highly experienced readers, have to say about the future of eCommerce technology.
What do you wish your senior management knew? What do you wish your clients knew?
I look forward to hearing from you below, via email, or Twitter works too (if you think you can get this great idea of yours under 140 characters -- sounds like a challenge). I can be found @bkwalker. Ideas big and small are welcome, and I will be citing these great examples and ideas if I use them.
I look forward to seeing many of you in Chicago next week.
(Note: we will be policing this for spam, as always. Don’t waste your time posting ads or other garbage here. We will simply delete it anyhow.)
I have had the good fortune (well, good most of the time) of having been involved in many, many vendor selection processes for eCommerce technology.* I’ve seen this play out from every conceivable side of the table: as a business leader at a large retail eCommerce company; as a technical leader charged with implementation; as a solution provider (vendor) supplying eCommerce technology to clients; as an independent consultant advising large eCommerce clients, and now as an analyst supporting the process through written research and advisory consulting.
In the course of that work I have learned that the typical RFP-driven vendor selection process produces poor results. Clients find the technology or services are not what they expected, vendors are frustrated, and projects are delayed and costly. We have all been there.
With this in mind, we set out to solve this dilemma; we sought to discover and articulate a better way. The result is what we call:
On April 14th, GSI and Intershop announced that they had entered into a licensing and distribution agreement. As a part of the agreement, GSI gains a minority and controlling interest in Intershop. With a relatively small ownership stake of 10.5%, GSI will have significant influence over Intershop, due to Intershop’s very diluted and diverse stockholder base. This gives GSI control over one of the oldest and most established eCommerce software solutions in Western and Central Europe. Additionally, under the agreement GSI will have exclusive rights to distribute Intershop’s solutions in the Americas and also have access to Intershop’s software, engineering talent, and integration experience.
By Brian K. Walker
Earlier this week, Demandware announced their new Link program. This program enables Demandware to make it relatively easy to add many SaaS-based point solutions to their clients’ sites in a pre-integrated fashion. The list includes Cybersource, Bazaarvoice, Baynote, PayPal, among many others. In today’s eCommerce technology environment it is extremely common to integrate various third-party technologies with the eCommerce platform for a variety of reasons – from payments to search to recommendations to content – and increasingly these third party applications are being delivered through services which must be integrated first to receive data to use on behalf of their client or to deliver their service. This integration may not be overly burdensome or complex, but it takes away from other resource needs and may limit a company’s experimentation with various tools and capabilities. The Link program gets at the heart of what SaaS platforms have promised for some time, and it is a great to see a platform provider move forward by investing in this. By implementing what we could consider in some ways an “app store for the enterprise eCommerce business” Demandware has certainly innovated here.
Why Link matters:
With Roy Rubin’s tweet today, we have one more example of an eCommerce platform working to make mobile commerce (mCommerce) an easy next step for their clients. The list continues to grow and includes platform providers such as ATG, IBM Websphere Commerce, Fry, Marketlive, Demandware, Escalate Retail, hybris, Intershop, and now Magento. In some cases this is being done natively within the application via the mobile web leveraging browser detection and CSS, in some cases through partnerships with third parties, and in some cases through services which enable mobile applications. Many other platform solution providers I have a chance to work with are not far behind, and are working hard on this. (Some of whom I am bound to hear from as soon as I hit “publish” with this post). But a key question is:
What are some key things to look for when evaluating this piece of the commerce solution portfolio?
Much ink and pixels have already been spilled in celebration or punditry of Apple’s latest splashy consumer device, the iPad, and so I am sorry to subject you to yet another. But there is an interesting angle which the introduction of this device hints at which I have not yet seen covered.