Boris Evelson By Boris Evelson

I typically don’t like to comment on rumors, but this one is too juicy (from the BI point of view) to pass by. Even though TIBCO’s business is primarily in application and process integration, enterprise service bus, middleware, messaging, etc., Business Intelligence implications of the rumored SAP/TIBCO merger are huge! By acquiring TIBCO SAP will get:


  • A leading position in the in-memory analytics. In-memory analytics, provided by TIBCO’s acquisition of Spotfire a couple of years ago, is a very different animal then traditional BI. First it enables ultimate flexibility and nearly instantaneous response. Also, while power analysts using their own copies of MOLAP cubes free to modify data models as they see fit, a data modeling step is still required before reporting and analysis can be performed. In-memory data models do not require that step, since all of the calculations and aggregations can be done at RAM speeds and therefore require little, if any, design and preparatory work. For example, there are times when analysts need to treat a continuously variable numerical value (like sales price) not as fact, but as a dimension. While conventional OLAP tools make this very difficult, in-memory models do not require a distinction between facts and dimensions — any element can be instantaneously used in either capacity.
  • A leading position in business optimization. TIBCO/Spotfire provided a combination of at least 3 separate technologies that are necessary for the drive toward business optimization. BPM (Business Process Management) vendors address efficiency gains, BI vendors provide visibility into business results, and BRE (Business Rules Engines) optimize decision-making. Together, the three technologies foster business optimization, where an optimized enterprise is efficient, effective, and agile. Organizations need BI tools to understand the results of BPM processes; analytics to determine the context of processes and the conditions for rules; rules to determine which actions people or processes should take; and BPM to manage the flow of work and information.

  • Contextual analytics.  BI/analytics must be context-aware to be useful. In the converged world of process, rules, and analytics, business people cannot be expected to start with a blank slate and select from a variety of KPIs, KPMs, facts, and dimensions as is required today. Since it is the process that brings up the dashboard automatically at the right place and the right time, the process is aware of the context and what decision needs to be made. The process can therefore prepopulate that dashboard with the right KPIs and KPMs, or the right intersection of facts and dimensions that the user needs to analyze the situation and make the appropriate decisions.

  • Address a potential advanced analytics gap left by IBM/SPSS deal. Traditional BI tools do not foster predictive and prescriptive insight.  If architected and designed properly, traditional BI applications provide deep insights into past and present events, as well as help identify patterns in past sales, marketing, supply chain, and financial performance. But in this new age of future-facing business analytics, any BI user without strong advanced analytics capabilities is seriously deficient and at a competitive disadvantage. Traditional BI tools effectively answer past-facing questions such as “what happened?” and “why did it happen?” but do not offer much assistance with proactive concerns such as “what will happen?,” “what may happen next?,” and “what could possibly happen if I take action X vs. action Y?” For that kind of functionality, SAP Business Objects currently relies on the OEMd version of SPSS – a company that is now going through pre-merger integration process with IBM. Even though both IBM and SAP state that all SPSS current commitments and OEM relationships are alive and well, we know better. We know that SAP has to protect itself from IBM and needs to make a similar acquisition in the near future. Insightful, recently acquired by TIBCO will easily fill in that gap.

Still think it’s just a rumor?