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Consolidation Continues: TIBCO Nabs Spotfire

Does TIBCO’s acquisition of visualization specialist Spotfire Inc. portend a coming round of consolidations in the data viz space?

A round of consolidation is often taken as a sure sign that a market has reached, or is fast approaching, maturity.

So, does TIBCO Software Inc.’s acquisition of visualization specialist Spotfire Inc. portend an upcoming round of consolidation in the data visualization space? Possibly. More immediately, however, some say TIBCO’s move—which it announced last week, and which cost it nearly $200 million—is a good thing for both it and Spotfire.

Take James Kobielus, a principal analyst for data management with consultancy Current Analysis, who says the addition of Spotfire helps make TIBCO a stronger player in the burgeoning complex event processing/event stream processing (CEP/ESP) market segment.

“TIBCO’s announcement was a necessity for [it] … and Spotfire to differentiate themselves competitively in the still-emerging CEP/ESP market, in which there are a growing range of best-of-breed vendors but still no clear leaders,” he writes. As with any acquisition, there are the requisite areas of complementarity and overlap, Kobielus concedes. On the complementarity tip, TIBCO claims that many of its existing technologies—including its CEP/ESP, business process management (BPM), and rich Internet applications (RIA) assets—complement those of Spotfire, Kobielus points out. This could help pave “the way for the converged vendors to rapidly develop … new solutions to address a wider range of opportunities in the BI arena,” he argues.

At the same time, of course, overlap does exist—particularly in the CEP/ESP space. “TIBCO and Spotfire have functionally overlapping CEP/ESP solutions, a reality that will foster fear, uncertainty, and doubt … among customers, partners, and employees regarding the converged vendor’s ongoing commitment to evolving and supporting both product sets,” Kobielus concedes.

And while Spotfire employees might be heartened by TIBCO’s pledge to keep Spotfire independent, such a move might not be the best arrangement for either entity. “[This] may impede efforts by the converged vendors to achieve synergies in development, sales, marketing, distribution, and partnering,” Kobielus points out. “Furthermore, TIBCO’s stated intention to integrate its BusinessWorks BPM technology into Spotfire CEP/ESP solutions is not aligned with a growing operational-BI industry trend toward service-oriented architecture (SOA)/Business Process Execution Language (BPEL)-based integration of heterogeneous BPM environments.”

All kvetching aside, Spotfire should be a good fit for the EAI stalwart. “TIBCO is currently anticipating integrating its iProcess Suite and BusinessEvents products with Spotfire technologies, thereby beefing up Spotfire’s ability to deliver complex data in real time both into operational business processes and to user BI visualization desktops,” Kobielus observes.

Moreover, he adds, Spotfire brings credible domain-specific expertise to the table, too. “TIBCO is gaining access to Spotfire’s deep pool of domain expertise in horizontal and vertical CEP/ESP applications, which will prove critical to ongoing development of targeted solutions. Spotfire has productized its CEP/ESP domain expertise through its ‘Guided Analytics Solutions,’ which are available for selected business processes and industries. These solutions include pre-built, extensible analytic interfaces, workflows, data models, and application connectors,” he explains.

Finally, there’s the consolidation angle. Will TIBCO’s $195 million spending spree encourage its competitors to take similar—and similarly costly—data viz plunges of their own? It could happen, says Kobielus. “TIBCO’s pending acquisition of Spotfire will kick-start consolidation within the fragmented CEP/ESP marketplace, ensuring that other SOA, middleware, and BI vendors take a fresh look at this still-emerging technology and consider strategic acquisitions of their own,” he concludes. “No enterprise-grade BI/CPM suite can be considered truly feature-complete without a strong CEP/ESP component, and there are now many sophisticated, mature, field-tested CEP/ESP vendors ripe for the acquiring.”

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a technology writer with 20 years of experience. His writing has focused on business intelligence, data warehousing, and analytics for almost 15 years. Swoyer has an abiding interest in tech, but he’s particularly intrigued by the thorny people and process problems technology vendors never, ever want to talk about. You can contact him at [email protected].

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