Rarely does vendor consolidation reflect such fragmentation of a market.

Picking up on the recent acquisition trend of independent market leaders, IBM today announced plans to acquire long-time GRC heavyweight OpenPages to strengthen its business analytics offerings, including Cognos and SPSS. It's a good fit for both companies and certainly won't surprise anyone who has been following the space… the OpenPages platform leans on Cognos for its reporting capabilities, so they already have a head start on product integration. The two have also proven successful in the past by combining forces on large risk management implementations, so there are already established use cases to reference.

This deal is most interesting, however, when you consider the other acquisitions of top GRC vendors. Less than two years ago, Paisley was acquired by Thomson Reuters to strengthen its tax and accounting business and content delivery, while EMC acquired Archer Technologies earlier this year as a dashboard (at least initially) to pull together IT risk data and processes as part of its RSA security offerings. While OpenPages has historically competed with Paisley in financial controls management and has recently been moving more into Archer's core IT risk and compliance domain, this acquisition will likely turn the company more toward higher-level corporate performance and enterprise risk management. The GRC vendors will still compete regularly, but their unique selling propositions are starting to look more and more unique all the time.

It will be interesting to watch how the remaining top independent GRC vendors (BWise, MetricStream, Qumas, etc.) will respond… and whether other industry powerhouses (SAP, Oracle, Cisco, HP?) will move to pick them up.


  • If you are currently an OpenPages customer or evaluating the platform, I don't expect much change in the near future, either positive or negative. Eventually, further integration with IBM technologies, such as Tivoli and WebSphere, will help extend the reach of the risk and compliance programs (although it will likely be months before we hear about any specific plans, let alone see any new offerings. Integration with IBM's BPM technologies has not been a focus of any messaging about the deal yet.).
  • If you are currently a customer of IBM's analytics technologies, OpenPages will be an attractive addition for handling needs such as workflow, risk analytics, loss management, and compliance reporting. But considering the cost and complexity of the average OpenPages deployment, the platform's footprint may have to be scaled back to make a more reasonable bundled offering.

Congratulations are in order for both companies. OpenPages has worked hard to put together a very solid product and an impressive list of successful customers. They still have a lot more work ahead of them, however, trying to navigate the massive IBM universe and prioritize the investments that will most immediately increase customer value.