TIBCO’s acquisition of information builders signals more BI market consolidation

BI technology is very mature, to a point of being commoditized. As a result, independent vendors cannot withstand pricing pressure and need to find alternatives, such as being acquired.

The business intelligence (BI) vendor consolidation trend that started earlier in 2019 continues. Last week, TIBCO announced its intent to acquire Information Builders, Inc. (IBI) -- one of the oldest players in the market. Want to get the real sense of how far back IBI goes? It was one of the first vendors to offer reporting and analytics on mainframes! It still does, and it's quite a unique capability today, only shared by two other vendors: SAS and IBM Cognos. 

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The announcement confirms what we've been saying for the last couple of years: BI technology is very mature, to a point of being commoditized. As a result, independent vendors cannot withstand pricing pressure and need to find alternatives, such as being acquired. But technology maturity by no means correlates with high levels of insights-driven business capabilities. The people, process, and data parts of the success equation remain challenging. Only 7% of global data and analytics leaders report advanced insights-driven practices. 

First, Understand Product Overlap 

But enough history and restating the obvious about the current state of the market, and onward with the pragmatic outcomes of this acquisition. We predict that in the merged company, data and analytics products will not be the same once post-merger integration kicks off. There are tons, literally tons, of overlapping products between the two companies. For example: 

  • Data management. Both companies (IBI's data management/governance tools were recently rebranded from iWay) have overlapping data integration, data virtualization, and streaming data tools. 
  • Data governance. Both companies have overlapping data governance, data catalogs, master and reference data management, data quality, and other data governance functionality spread across multiple products. 
  • BI. IBI Analytics (recently rebranded from WebFOCUS) capabilities almost completely overlap with TIBCO Spotfire (used for analytics and data visualization) and Jaspersoft (used for enterprise reporting and embedded analytics). WebFOCUS (it was still the name at the time of the evaluation) fell somewhat behind Spotfire in our "The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise BI Platforms (Vendor-Managed), Q3 2019," mainly due to Spotfire's more advanced augmented BI capabilities. 
  • Advanced analytics. Here's where there's a ray of sunshine: TIBCO's advanced analytics capabilities (a Leader in Forrester's recent "The Forrester Wave™: Multimodal Predictive Analytics And Machine Learning, Q3 2020" evaluation) far outweigh IBI's, which are mostly limited to integrating popular tools such as R and Python into IBI Analytics. 

Then, Assess Short-, Medium- And Long-Term Impact For Your Enterprise 

So what does the future for TIBCO and IBI BI and analytics customers look like? Here's our take: 

  • Short term -- 6 to 12 months. Since both companies have a significant base of loyal customers paying maintenance or subscribing to services, it'll be business as usual. Old products die hard. TIBCO acquired Statistica in 2017 and still maintains it. 
  • Medium-term -- 12 to 24 months. IBI Analytics customers will benefit from the infusion of advanced analytics and automated machine learning from TIBCO (this will not be unlike what we are currently observing vis-à-vis the infusion of Salesforce Einstein Analytics into Tableau). They will also benefit if TIBCO decides to integrate and bundle Spotfire with IBI Analytics, which currently does not have an in-memory engine. The good news: TIBCO has great experience integrating data science and BI products in Spotfire, so expect the same seamless integration results with IBI Analytics. Net-new customers coming to TIBCO for enterprise reporting and embedded analytics will face a tough choice: IBI Analytics or Jaspersoft. TIBCO may position the former as for the large enterprise and the latter as a lighter offering. 
  • Long term -- 24-plus months. Brace for impact. Combined company data and analytics products will merge, look, and behave differently. 

And if you are a client of another independent BI vendor, the writing on the wall is clear: More acquisitions are coming. Make sure your vendor risk strategies are up to date. For example, if your enterprise already uses multiple BI platforms (and most do), consider deploying BI fabric to ease the pain of migrating off a platform (among many other benefits of BI fabric) if that necessity hits.  

To learn more about the trends that will define 2021 and beyond, download Forrester's 2021 Predictions Guide

This post was written by VP, Principal Analyst Boris Evelson, and it originally appeared here