TIBCO closes its acquisition of IBI to advance data analytics


TIBCO Software yesterday announced it has formally closed its acquisition of Information Builders Inc. (IBI), a provider of analytics and data integration tools that traces its lineage back to the earliest days of IT. Best known for a suite of WebFocus business intelligence (BI) tools for legacy IBM platforms, IBI also provides a range of connectors that are widely employed to share data between disparate enterprise applications.

TIBCO, which was taken private in 2014, is best known for providing Spotfire analytics software alongside a set of data integration tools based on an event-driven architecture. As organizations advance digital business transformation initiatives, many of them are starting to transition to event-driven platforms to synchronize data across applications in near real time, versus updating applications in batch mode once or twice a day.

The IBI acquisition was announced last fall, but now that the deal has formally closed, the real work of integrating the two companies will begin, TIBCO chief operating officer Matt Quinn said. “What you’re allowed to see pre-close is quite limited,” Quinn said. “You can’t run their business.”

Terms of the deal for the privately held IBI were not disclosed. But given the size of both companies, Quinn said integrating the two organizations will take some time and effort. IBI was founded in 1975 and helmed by Gerald Cohen through 2019. Cohen, who still served as company chair, passed away last month.

The combined entity will be able to help organizations more easily integrate legacy platforms such as mainframes — which in many cases still process the bulk of data within an enterprise — with other application environments. Rather than rewriting entire applications, many enterprises are moving toward integrating backend processes with modern front-end applications that they expose externally to customers and partners.

It’s still early days in terms of how close enterprise IT organizations are to achieving that goal, but Quinn said the economic downturn brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly accelerated the sense of urgency most enterprise organizations have concerning digital business transformation initiatives.

In addition, Quinn said interest in applying AI to business processes has forced organizations to re-evaluate how they manage data. Rather than allowing conflicting data to persist in silos, Quinn said organizations are clearly moving toward building massive data lakes that can be accessed by multiple applications. Those big data efforts require different tools and processes to automate the management of data at scale, Quinn added. He noted that shift (collectively referred to as DataOps) also requires IT organizations to restructure how they operate and are organized.

While increased reliance on data analytics has led to the creation of what is now arguably an overcrowded field of vendors providing these tools, it’s not clear to what degree the IBI acquisition might herald a consolidation across the category. TIBCO has made a string of acquisitions over the years, including Spotfire, Jaspersoft, Mashery, Alpine Data Labs, and the Composite Software assets it bought from Cisco. But the IBI deal is its largest yet.

In the last year, most executives have naturally managed business processes more closely by relying more on analytics applications. At the same time, many businesses have been reluctant to buy new applications at a time when their revenues have declined sharply.

It’s too early to say how the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine might impact the overall economy going into 2021. However, there’s no doubt analytics will be playing a larger role in driving digital business processes. It may take a while for those processes to mature, but there will be no return to business as usual in 2022 and beyond.


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