Scribe Software could be big for TIBCO, if it can learn lessons from the past

TIBCO’s acquisition of Scribe Software boosts its modern integration platform credentials, and also holds out the promise of new audiences and routes to market. How the products and teams are absorbed into TIBCO will be crucial.

Here’s what you need to know about the TIBCO Scribe acquisition.

Scribe Software, as we highlighted in our recent profile of the company,  was founded in 1995 as an application integration software platform specialist. Initially,  it focused primarily on providing its integration platform technologies to systems integrator partners that used the platform to create custom integration solutions for their clients; but over the past 12 months Scribe ramped up its efforts to sell direct to enterprises. The company currently works with around 1,200 partners, and indirectly or directly serves around 12,000 customers – mostly mid-sized enterprises in North America and Europe.

Scribe built a strong reputation for solving the integration challenges found in the Microsoft Dynamics ecosystem. The company launched Scribe Online, its integration platform-as-a-service offering, in 2011: since then, Scribe Online has been responsible for the vast majority of Scribe Software’s revenue growth, and this business line is now growing at around 50% annually.

So – why did TIBCO buy Scribe?

TIBCO already has a significant integration platform play, and a piece within that (the Web Integrator element of TIBCO Cloud integration, profiled here) which aims to serve the needs of the same people that Scribe Online does – relatively non-technical ‘citizen integrators’ and business analysts, primarily, looking to wire together cloud-based applications and data sources.

However prior to the Scribe acquisition, TIBCO Cloud Integration made most sense in the context of TIBCO’s broader platform offering (and for TIBCO’s existing customers). A lot of the foundational technical elements were in place for a platform with potentially wide appeal, but the platform lacked the breadth of connectivity and richness of design environment that are found in more established offerings.

From a technology point of view, with Scribe Online, Scribe Software brings both these things to the TIBCO portfolio, and so really enables TIBCO to target ‘citizen integrators’ and their needs much more confidently. It also brings sophisticated change management and multi-level administration capabilities.

However this acquisition is not only about technology. As I mentioned above, most of Scribe’s success to date has come from its ability to serve partners, both developing solutions for customers and embedding the platform in their own applications/platforms (this is where the multi-level administration features play a role, of course). This has the potential to help TIBCO do much more – building a platform licensing business that enables it to reach much further than its traditional large enterprise customer base. TIBCO does already have experience with this model, with its Jaspersoft reporting and dashboarding product; however Scribe’s business could help it expand this model more broadly.

Also, of course, if it’s smart TIBCO has the opportunity to offer elements of its existing technology portfolio to the very significant Scribe customer base.

There’s a caveat here, though. TIBCO has form in acquiring companies that sell to different audiences than it’s used to, and failing to capitalise fully: I’m specifically thinking here about Nimbus Partners, which sold its Nimbus business-friendly process mapping and management tool principally to operations and process transformation teams. The technology is still part of TIBCO’s portfolio, but Nimbus Partners’ business-focused sales and marketing expertise was largely left to wither away.

TIBCO’s acquisition of Scribe will significantly boost the functional breadth of its digital integration platform – but TIBCO will only maximise its potential to change its broader business if it can really internalise lessons from Scribe’s business success to date, and learn lessons from past acquisitions.