Oracle Moves Solidly Into SaaS With Taleo Acquisition

Oracle Corporation announced its purchase of Taleo for $1.9 billion on Feb. 9, 2012, signaling a major shift in its stance on software-as-a-service (SaaS) and talent management applications. The transaction is expected to close midyear 2012, subject to regulatory and stockholder approvals.

Oracle has long held a “we can build it better” position on talent management, learning, and recruitment applications but struggled to compete with best-of-breed talent management vendors like SuccessFactors (recently acquired by rival SAP), Taleo, Kenexa, Cornerstone, and SumTotal Systems. Oracle has been reticent to offer these (or any other) applications via SaaS, preferring a licensed/on-premises business model that provides early revenue recognition versus the deferred revenue model of SaaS.

In fact, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has been outspoken in his anti-SaaS stance in recent years, changing his posture somewhat with the Oracle Public Cloud announcement at last October’s Oracle OpenWorld conference. Meanwhile, the HR apps market shifted overwhelmingly to the SaaS (subscription-based) deployment model, which has become virtually ubiquitous in recruitment, learning, and talent management and is also growing in core HRMS via ADP, Ultimate Software, and Workday.

By acquiring Taleo, Oracle puts itself back in the game for SaaS recruiting and talent management. Taleo is a market leader in recruitment automation and has a competitive portfolio of products across performance, compensation, and learning management. The $1.9 billion deal price is more than six times Taleo’s 2011 annual revenues of $309 million, a high premium but substantially less than the $3.4 billion and 11-times revenues that SAP recently paid for SuccessFactors.

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SAP’s Acquisition Of SuccessFactors Re-engergizes Its HCM And SaaS Strategy

SAP is a paying a substantial premium to acquire SuccessFactors, a leading SaaS performance and talent management vendor. The press release of December 3, 2011 states that the deal price of $40 per share is a 52% premium over the Dec. 2 closing stock price. Even more startling is that SuccessFactors has a revenue run rate of roughly $300 to $330 million for 2011, and the acquisition price of $3.4 billion is more than 10 times revenue! Why then did SAP make this move?

SAP’s cloud strategy has been struggling with time-to-market issues, and its core on-premises HR management software has been at a competitive disadvantage with best-of-breed solutions in areas such as employee performance, succession planning, and learning management. By acquiring SuccessFactors, SAP puts itself into a much stronger competitive position in human resources applications and reaffirms its commitment to software-as-a-service as a key business model.

In my recent research for a soon-to-be-published Forrester Wave™ on human resource management systems (HRMS), I noted that SAP has more than 13,000 customers using its HCM suite. Yet the adoption of SAP’s learning and talent management products is much less (a few thousand, perhaps), which is noted in my colleague Claire Schooley’s “The Forrester Wave™: Talent Management, Q2 2011.” The talent management Forrester Wave also clearly shows that SAP’s embedded talent management offerings lag well behind the best-of-breed specialists in learning and performance management. The bottom line here is that SAP HCM customers predominantly run best-of-breed talent management solutions alongside their SAP core HRMS (i.e., the transactional employee system of record).

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Oracle Wins $1.3 Billion Award Over SAP

The $1.3 billion verdict in the Oracle v. SAP case is surprising, given that the third-party support subsidiary of SAP, TomorrowNow, was fixing glitches and making compliance updates, not trying to resell the software. The jury felt that the appropriate damage award was based on the fair market value of the software that was illegally downloaded, rather than Oracle’s lost revenues for support.

A news article by Bloomberg provides further insight into the jury’s thinking and the legal process. Quoting juror Joe Bangay, an auto body technician: “If you take something from someone and you use it, you have to pay.” Perhaps SAP should have made its case more in layman’s terms.

SAP is in a very difficult position, in that it faces the same threat of revenue loss from third-party support. It was unable to convincingly defend its entry into the third-party support business for fear of legitimizing a business that poses a similar threat to its lucrative maintenance business as to Oracle’s.

What happens to the third-party support business going forward? The size of the award potentially dampens customer interest in moving to third-party support, particularly with another case pending of Oracle v. Rimini Street. The SAP case, however, does not invalidate third-party support as a business. Third-party support, if carried out properly, offers an important option for enterprise application customers that are looking for relief from costly vendor maintenance contracts.

For SAP, the verdict is not only painful, but it prolongs the agony, because it is compelled to appeal the verdict. SAP certainly has the financial wherewithal to pay the damages but was hoping to put this embarrassing debacle behind them.

IBM Makes A Good Catch With Clarity Systems Acquisition

Today, IBM announced the acquisition of privately-held Clarity Systems for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition bolsters IBM’s solution set for the CFO, and complements its recent acquisition of OpenPages, a governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) vendor. Clarity, based in Toronto, had approximately 390 employees and 600 customers at the time of this deal.

Clarity Systems is a Strong Performer in "The Forrester Wave™: Business Performance Solutions, Q4 2009", offering a very good planning, budgeting, and forecasting solution as part of its flagship product, Clarity 7, along with an improved financial consolidations component. During the past few years, Clarity developed a market-leading regulatory reporting solution, Clarity FSR, which supports the process of creating full SEC filings and also embeds technology for XBRL reporting. IBM Cognos is ranked as a Leader in the same comparative evalution.

The success of FSR alone during the past two years made the large BPS vendors, IBM, SAP, and Oracle, envious of Clarity’s success. Oracle made a competitive response early this year with the release of Oracle Hyperion Disclosure Management. It seemed to this observer that SAP would make the next move by doing a deal to acquire Clarity, but IBM beat them to the punch.

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What Is An "Unconference"? Please Weigh In On Topic Choices.

At Forrester's Business Process And Application Delivery Forum, October 7 and 8 in National Harbor, MD , we are holding a session called an "unconference" in the Business Process content track (there is also an unconference for the Application Development and Delivery track).

What is an "unconference"? you may ask. It's a session where the attendees are the presenters.  Here is how the session is described on our event site:

"Unconferences are the coolest thing going in conferences, having taken a page out of the Web 2.0 and social networking world. Here’s how it works: Upon arriving at the Forum, attendees can vote for one of these three topics: 1) the future of packaged apps; 2) the future of BPM, or 3) the role of Social Computing in business processes. Once the winning topic is announced, then it’s your turn to sign up to speak at the session. Yes, that’s right — you are the speakers! Those passionate about the topic will each have 3 minutes to discuss the topic and offer a conclusion. It should be a lot of fun, quite democratic, and full of interesting points of view. "

We need your help, whether you have already signed up to attend, considering it, or just learning about the event. What we would like you to do is select the topic that you are most interested in discussing with your peers. It only takes a minute. Vote here:

http://deploy.ztelligence.com/start/index.jsp?PIN=15Y6Y9D79ZL6V.

From the online survey, we will identify the most popular topics and present them to attendees for final selection. Thanks for your help, hope to see you at the Forum.

SAP Advances Innovation Strategy With Sybase Acquisition

In late breaking news today, SAP announced a definitive agreement to acquire Sybase for $5.8 billion. The deal will be accretive for SAP and is expected to close in July 2010. Sybase is a profitable company with revenues of $1.2 billion and $1 billion in cash. Sybase Chairman, CEO and President John S. Chen will become a member of SAP's Executive Board.

The deal is a good move by SAP mainly because it accelerates SAP’s innovation strategy, which is focused on in-memory computing, mobile device applications, analytics, and SaaS. Sybase brings assets to the table in each of these areas:

  • In-memory databases via its Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) platform and SQL Anywhere.
  • Mobile applications development and device management via Sybase Unwired and Afaria.
  • Analytics via the Sybase IQ column oriented analytics server and complex event processing (CEP) technology.
  • Cloud computing is delivered via Sybase’s partnership with Amazon Web Services.

 

It is also a good move for several other reasons:

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Oracle Puts Another Notch In Its Industry Apps Acquisition Stick

Today, Oracle announced yet another acquisition - this one of Phase Forward, a clinical research suite that helps life sciences companies manage their R&D process. Oracle paid $685 million in cash for this acquisition. While my research role focus does not encompass life sciences software specifically, Oracle's overall apps strategy is definitely of interest to me. My thoughts about this deal are as follows:

  • Oracle continues to aggressively acquire industry-specific applications to complement its core ERP solutions (e.g., EBS, PeopleSoft, J.D. Edwards, and the yet-to-be-released Fusion Applications). Industry apps enable Oracle to achieve deeper relevance with specific types of businesses, and sell them additional products, including middleware, integration accelerators, BI, databases, core ERP applications, and now even computer hardware.
  • The Phase Forward clinical trials software puts Oracle into the mix in large pharma accounts, where SAP tends to have the lion's share of the wallet for applications.
  • Healthcare overall is a massive market opportunity for which Oracle has only scratched the surface. Oracle only recently established a Health Sciences Global Business Unit, and more acquisitions can be expected in and around the healthcare ecosystem. Healthcare provider solutions may fit into this build-out at some point.

Your thoughts on Oracle's apps strategy and portfolio? Feel free to comment here.

SAP Jam Teleconference Notes: SAP's Growth and Innovation Strategies

Thanks to those of you that attended our SAP Jam Teleconference today, part of a series that will run throughout the week. For details on the next event in the series, see http://www.forrester.com/rb/teleconference/sap_jam_session_what_should_sap_clients/q/id/6292/t/1.

 

For those of you unable to attend, I will summarize some of the content that I presented on SAP’s overall growth and innovation strategy. SAP has  a double-barreled product strategy focused on Growth and Innovation.

 

Growth Strategy

The Growth strategy rests heavily on the current Business Suite, which includes the core ERP product that is used by approximately 30,000 companies worldwide. SAP claims that it touches 60 percent of the world’s business transactions, which is hard to validate but not all that hard to believe. The main revenue source today is Support, which comprises 50% of the total revenues of the company at more than 5 billion Euros annually, and it grew by 15% in 2009. Other growth engines include:

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More SAP Leadership Changes Announced

Thursday’s announcements of additional SAP leadership changes raise more questions than they answer, but a commitment to changing the direction of the company is clear. SAP announced the departures of John Schwarz, head of the SAP Business Objects unit, and Erwin Gunst, Chief Operating Officer. Gerhard Oswald, Executive Board member in charge of global services and support, assumes the role of COO. In addition, Peter Lorenz has been promoted to Corporate Officer, looking after the SAP SME solutions portfolio. These moves follow the resignation CEO Leo Apotheker a few days ago, as well as the appointments of Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe as co-CEOs.

Gunst’s departure, due to health reasons, was expected and was mentioned on Monday in a call with analysts and press. More surprising is the departure of Schwarz, formerly CEO of Business Objects, a respected executive who led the integration of Business Objects following SAP’s acquisition 2 years ago. It is appears that Schwarz’s departure had something to do with his not being named CEO or co-CEO, but the real reasons are likely more complex. SAP appears to be in the midst of a transition to younger and more energetic leadership, and Schwarz’s career may have had limited upside given that Executive Board members are encouraged to retire at age 60 (he’s 59).

The changes are consistent with Chairman and co-founder Hasso Plattner’s return to hands-on leadership of the company. The remaining SAP Executive Board members, co-CEOs McDermott and Snabe, CFO Werner Brandt, COO Oswald, and CTO Vishal Sikka, will be expected to carry out Plattner’s directives to restore the company’s momentum.

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SAP Announces Changes at the Top; Hasso Steps Up

On Super Bowl Sunday, February 7, 2010, SAP announced that CEO Leo Apotheker’s contract will not be renewed and his resignation is effective immediately. In his place, the company appointed co-CEOs Jim Hagemann Snabe and Bill McDermott. Both executives are already members of the SAP Executive Board, with Snabe in charge of product development and McDermott in charge of field operations prior to their appointment as Co-CEOs. More importantly, perhaps, Supervisory Board Chairman and cofounder Hasso Plattner has stepped up to take a more active role in overseeing the company’s direction. Apotheker’s departure was not a surprise for most industry followers. His contract was up for renewal things were not going so well for SAP of late. Just a week and a half prior to today’s announcement, SAP reported its 2009 financial results, in which total revenue declined 9% for the year (to €10,671) and software revenues declined by 28%. During his watch, customers become disenchanted over the mandatory migration and price increase related to Enterprise Support, as well as overly aggressive sales of featured products, including analytics. Mr. Apotheker couldn’t have been expected to perform miracles in a down economy, and can’t be blamed for the false starts with Business ByDesign that he inherited. In fact, Business ByDesign has seen significant progress during his tenure and is now ready for market. In addition, Apotheker was instrumental in launching SAP’s strong commitment to sustainability during the past year. With the appointment of co-CEOs Snabe and McDermott, SAP continues a long-standing tradition of promoting CEOs from within. Co-CEOs, in fact, have been used before, most recently with Apotheker serving as co-CEO with his predecessor, Henning Kagermann, during the transition period leading up to Kagermann’s retirement.

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