Last week saw TIBCO’s biannual global customer event, TIBCO NOW, back in Vegas. The theme of the conference: “Innovation at the edge”.
After last year’s TIBCO NOW event in San Diego, I shared that TIBCO seemed to be getting its mojo back. My takeaway, though, was that its main challenge would be to bring its existing customers along and get them to explore all the new stuff it’s doing.
After this most recent event, it’s clear that this key challenge remains. However, the company’s strategy for growth is becoming much clearer.
Of course, as you would expect from a glitzy customer conference, there were new product announcements: new support for streamed event processing and rule processing in TIBCO’s ultralightweight Flogo event-driven microservices platform; a major new version of Spotfire showcasing support for streaming data, natural-language query interface and ML-driven recommendations; and continued expansion of the TIBCO Cloud service portfolio (now including event processing, business process mapping – via Nimbus).
Apart from product, the company also announced a new TIBCO LABS initiative, which aims to bring dedicated TIBCO engineers to work alongside customers and partners to prototype, build and test custom solutions that take advantage of emerging technology families associated with blockchain, AI/ML, IoT and so on.
All this together continues to highlight that – contrary to what many customers and observers feared – TIBCO has definitely not stagnated since its acquisition by PE firm Vista. Rather than squeezing TIBCO customers and cutting cost out, Vista is enabling TIBCO to spend significantly on R&D, and it shows.
However as I sat in on the larger conference sessions dedicated to TIBCO’s core heritage – integration technologies – it was obvious that the vast bulk of the base of very large customers that continue to keep cash flowing into TIBCO’s coffers with their maintenance contracts are a long way from making significant commitments to the cloud-first, edge-innovation world that featured so heavily in product announcements and keynote presentations.
So if the company’s biggest and longest-term customers are more nibbling than biting on TIBCO’s new offerings, where is the return on all this R&D investment going to come from? The answer is apparent in TIBCO’s acquisition of Scribe Software earlier this year, which fits very squarely into its strategy.
In brief, TIBCO expects future growth to come from subscriptions to its increasing portfolio of cloud-based services, but it expects the bulk of near-term growth to come from new mid-sized customers. Today it’s customers like this that are subscribing to Mashery, Spotfire, and also the Container Edition of BusinessWorks; and it’s customers like this that are the bedrock of Scribe Software’s iPaaS business. Scribe built its success on a focus on mid-sized customers (and an attendant focus on integrating applications and services across the Microsoft ecosystem), working predominantly through channel partners and technology licensing deals that saw its platform embedded in other services. TIBCO’s path forward is the same – cultivating sales through a bolstered set of implementation and technology licensing partners.
TIBCO has spent a lot of effort over the past couple of years making its technologies more open and easier to use, and both these characteristics will of course be critical as the company seeks to win business as described above. It will also have to work diligently to deepen and expand its partner relationships – and this, to me, is the item that needs to be at the top of its list going into 2019.