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TIBCO Acquires Staffware--Move Raises More Questions Than Answers

TIBCO is acquiring UK-based Staffware, expecting to capitalize on Staffware’s business process expertise and complementary target markets. But questions remain on exact plans for product integration.
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Written by Eric Austvold on

TIBCO is acquiring UK-based Staffware, expecting to capitalize on Staffware’s business process expertise and complementary target markets. But questions remain on exact plans for product integration.

The Bottom Line: While TIBCO will add a set of business-centric, process-based applications from Staffware’s Business Process Management (BPM) product line to its proven Information Technology (IT)-centric message bus architecture, it’s unclear how the products will complement each other.

What It Means: TIBCO acquired a product called InConcert from Xerox in 1999 and integrated the technology into the TIBCO BusinessWorks platform. It was meant to be a business-oriented, human-based process management system, but ended up being a workflow task manager for highly technical IT integrators.

TIBCO has rightly recognized the need for process-based applications, while also realizing that InConcert is not the appropriate base upon which to build them. Enter Staffware. This time, it has a better chance of working.

On the upside, with the acquisition of Staffware, TIBCO gets some valuable assets, including the following:

  • BPM applications--For claims processing, mortgage origination, and case management
  • Expertise--Mainly in enhanced process-based applications
  • Market opportunities--In the form of cross-selling opportunities; half of Staffware’s business comes from retail banking and insurance, while TIBCO has been strong in brokerage and trading systems
UK government legal restrictions prevent TIBCO from communicating product plans externally until after the deal is complete, likely late May. Thus, TIBCO was unable to confirm or deny any of our suspected product changes.

Nevertheless, here are a few predictions:

  • TIBCO will reconcile various BPM engines. Multiple BPM engines--one for system-to-system messaging already in the TIBCO BusinessWorks platform, and a new engine from Staffware for person-to-person routing--must be integrated.
  • TIBCO will combine presentation layers. The company will unify the presentation of models, events, and task lists through its unified portal product, incorporating the Staffware product lines along with the TIBCO technology.
  • TIBCO will unify modeling environments. Existing separate process maps for the TIBCO and Staffware lines must be reconciled and unified.
Recommendations
  • Get an update on product strategy--Clients should understand what effect Staffware will have before embarking on a major process management project involving TIBCO. Considering TIBCO’s past performance with integration of acquired companies, there is little doubt that it will solve the above problems. It’s not a question of if, but rather when and what impact it will have to your project.
  • Assess upgrade path--Investigate whether integrations built using BusinessWorks today will inherit the new benefits of Staffware at little or no cost to your organization. Work with TIBCO to ensure you minimize risk and unnecessary long-term rework costs.
AMR Research originally published this article on 5 May 2004.

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