TIBCO acquisition of Information Builders creates new channel synergies

By coincidence, TIBCO’s latest acquisition takes place as they are in the process of integrating the channel programs from previous acquisitions into a new and more diverse one, which should expedite the integration of the Information Builders partners.

Tony Beller, TIBCO’s Senior Vice President, WorldWide Partner Ecosystem and OEM Sales

Late last week, TIBCO Software announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Information Builders – or ibi – as they announced they intended to rebrand themselves at their virtualized Information Builders Summit in June. Ibi has been deeply focused on the data analytics space for decades, and TIBCO sees those capabilities as significantly augmenting their Connected Intelligence platform. In particular, ibi’s WebFOCUS analytics solution will be integrated into TIBCO’s Hyperconverged Analytics strategy.

The transaction is expected to close during the first quarter of TIBCO’s 2021 fiscal year. Ibi will be fully integrated into TIBCO and will disappear as a separate entity.

“We are going through the process of what will be done now,” said Tony Beller, TIBCO’s Senior Vice President, WorldWide Partner Ecosystem and OEM Sales.

The normal routine of acquisitions is somewhat different with this one because of the process that had been taking place on the ibi side. Gerald D. Cohen, the company’s founder and CEO for decades, had a planned departure in 2019, with Frank Vella being promoted from the COO role to succeed him. At Information Builders’ customer event last year, there was more than a little nervousness about what the future would hold. That concern is likely to continue into becoming a part of TIBCO. Cohen, who was still chairman of the board at ibi, was cited in the press release announcing fulsome praise for the acquisition.

“It is a privilege to join forces with a company that cares about its customers as much as we do,” Cohen said. “I am looking forward to a very bright future for our solutions, our team, and especially our customers.”

“We do have a long history of acquiring companies very successfully, and we do have a strong integration team,” Beller said. “There are some customer areas of overlap but, also others with expansion capabilities. There are also joint customers, which is good, and they have ones we don’t have.”

A key question is the plans for channel integration. Both companies started direct, and both have developed channels and now have hybrid Go-to-Market strategies, but TIBCO’s channel is rather more significant as a percentage of sales than ibi’s channel.

“We are going through how their direct people will be handled right now,” Beller said. “We do need their expertise, and we also have a direct sales organization.”

The integration of the ibi partner channel is made easier in many ways because – by coincidence – TIBCO is in the process of integrating their partner programs from previous acquisitions, something that was a major announcement at September’s TIBCO NOW customer event.

“We were in the process of evolving of our partner program to normalize all the  different partner programs from all the companies we acquired over time,” Beller said. “This acquisition wasn’t planned to fit into that, but it is timely. From where I sit right now, what they have fits well into what we are trying to roll out. We will try and fold them in as we roll out the refresh of the partner program that we had already planned.”

How the ibi certifications will come over into the TIBCO program is something that has not yet been determined.

“We are still looking into that,” Beller said.

On the other hand, ibi’s more centralized management of its different programs reflects what Beller is doing with the TIBCO programs.

“Before I arrived, we had an OEM program and a Technology Partners program and a reseller program, and I’m bringing them all together into one,” he indicated. “They have the same channels, but had them all in one program. That will fit nicely with what we are doing now.

“They have about 130 partners – SIs, resellers, OEMs, and agents in some countries,” Beller noted. “I don’t think it will be that difficult to integrate them, and keep to their contracts. Today at TIBCO we have around 1000 partners, many of them with old agreements. Next year, we plan to have a better handle on this.”

The overlap between the TIBCO and ibi channels is relatively small.

“We do have some of the same larger partners like some big global SIs and cloud companies like AWS, but the overall overlap isn’t that large, around 5-10%,” Beller said. “Most of them are smaller niche companies, and we will be looking at those relationships in more detail.”

The bottom line, Beller stated, is that this acquisition should be beneficial for partners of both legacy companies.

“It’s really good news because it expands the capabilities for existing partners with additional things they can bring into their toolset,” he said. “Today, the Ibi partners focus on ibi, but we can expand their portfolio.”