Integration software vendor Tibco is, as its managers admit, usually associated with IT ‘plumbing’ and back-end infrastructure. But with its business process management (BPM) arm and service-oriented architecture (SOA) know-how, it is aiming to raise its profile among business-focused customers.
Tibco’s value proposition is this: in SOA, business processes rely on the way different services are organised and integrated, not on discrete applications. Tibco’s integration architecture, built around its enterprise service bus (ESB), has native access to business activity and event data and so can act as the platform for BPM.
In a marketplace awash with vendors offering SOA ‘solutions’, BPM is the key to competitive differentiation, argues Tibco CEO and founder, Vivek Ranadivé. Technology is widely available and cheap, so fostering creativity and flexibility in business processes is the most effective route to competitive advantage, he says.
This shift, Ranadivé predicts, will revolutionise the software market. The move from data and application-based architectures to highly interoperable SOAs will put an end to vendor lock-in, he argues, and release IT buying organisations from the stranglehold application and database vendors have held them in for some time.
“Oracle and SAP have been extorting money from you for 20 years,” Ranadivé told the audience at Tucon, Tibco’s user conference in Orlando in April 2006. “The switch to SOA will end that.”
“We must always stay ahead of IBM, and we will."
Vivek Ranadivé, Tibco
It will be companies that offer flexibility not prescribed functionality that will prosper in the SOA climate, explains senior vice president for worldwide marketing, Ram Menon.
“The next killer application is not going to be developed by a vendor, it will come from within a user organisation,” he adds.
Seeing an opportunity to become a strategic business partner for its customers rather than just the plumber, Tibco has undergone a transformation of its own, investing heavily in business management tools to complement its integration expertise.
Although it previously had BPM software in its suite, Tibco’s 2004 key acquisition of UK-based BPM vendor Staffware brought it best-of-breed functionality. The company has also pushed its footprint, through both acquisition and R&D, beyond integration into business activity monitoring, portal design and application development platforms.
This breadth culminates in Tibco Business Studio, a role-based process modelling, management and simulation suite designed for use by business users, which was launched at Tucon.
The significant investment Tibco has made in developing its business focused products appears to be paying off. Ranadivé claims that by the end of 2006, half of all revenues will be derived from product lines that did not exist in 2004. And this is while revenues have grown – Tibco recently reported Q1 revenues of $114.6 million, nearly three times the figure for the equivalent period in 2004.
Menon clearly sees an opportunity for Tibco to become an SOA-era Oracle or SAP. “Integration is the hottest market left in software,” he says. “It is like the database market in the Eighties.”
Tibco’s principal barrier to achieving household-name status is its main competitor, integration market leader IBM. Ranadivé argues that Tibco’s independence and its commitment to R&D will help it maintain its current momentum.
“We must always stay ahead of IBM, and we will,” he says.