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prevero to be Acquired by Dutch Software Vendor Unit4

prevero has announced it has entered into an agreement to be acquired by Unit4, a Netherlands-based enterprise applications software vendor with operations worldwide. The purchase price has not been disclosed.

Authors: Carsten Bange and Christian Fuchs

Published: 11 July 2016

In recent years, prevero has grown into one of the largest performance management vendors in the DACH region in terms of software revenues. Its growth has been largely organic but was also boosted considerably by the acquisitions of software vendors Winterheller in 2011 and MIK in 2015, the latter of which is still trading as an independent company. Now prevero itself has agreed to be acquired by Unit4.

Unit4 is a provider of enterprise applications empowering people in service organizations (e.g. ERP). With annual revenues of more than Euro 500 million and over 4,000 employees worldwide, Unit4 delivers ERP, industry-focused and topical applications. Thousands of organizations around the world from sectors including professional services, education, public services, not-for-profit, real estate, wholesale and financial services use Unit4 solutions.

In our opinion, prevero’s performance management products fit well into Unit4’s product portfolio. Data-based decision making and data analysis have become more important than ever, not least for Unit4’s ERP customer base. However, until now Unit4 has not had any specific CPM products in its portfolio. Also, from a geographical perspective, prevero has a strong footprint in the DACH region while Unit4 is present in many other parts of Europe, Asia-Pacific and North America. So this deal opens up the potential for selling Unit4’s ERP products to prevero’s 4,500 customers in the DACH region and prevero’s CPM products to Unit4’s customer base, as well as a stand-alone product in the vendor’s 26 markets worldwide. According to both parties a joint offering should be available within 6 months.

Going forward, prevero will be Unit4’s standard platform for CPM and BI. The prevero brand will be retained for the time being with the goal of joint branding over time. prevero’s management team of Alexander Springer and Matthias Thurner and all its 160 employees will become part of Unit4.

Overall, we think the acquisition provides great potential for both companies. prevero in particular will be able to enlarge its customer base in global markets that it probably would never have been able to address itself. Moreover, the development of its CPM products can profit from Unit4’s more substantial development capacities. Unit4 can offer a more complete set of products and also cover the important areas of planning, data analytics and decision support in a sophisticated way. Whether there is cross-selling potential for its ERP solutions into the prevero customer base remains to be seen. Many of prevero’s customers will already have established ERP products and are unlikely to focus on replacing their existing infrastructure.

Further Reading
Unit4 press release announcing the acquisition of prevero

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Qlik To Be Acquired by Private Equity Firm Thoma Bravo

Qlik has announced it has entered into an agreement with private equity firm Thoma Bravo to be acquired by them for around 3 billion USD.

Author: Carsten Bange

Published: 30 June 2016

Qlik announced at the beginning of June that it has entered into an agreement with private equity firm Thoma Bravo to be acquired by them for ~3 billion USD. Qlik, founded in 1993 in Lund, Sweden and now headquartered in Radnor, PA, USA has become one of the major BI vendors in the last 15 years: It currently has 2,000 employees, 39,000 customers and 1,700 partners in more than 100 countries, making 612 million USD revenue in 2015. This values Qlik at about 5x revenue and at a similar enterprise value to Tableau, which has surpassed Qlik with very strong growth in recent years, reaching 695 million USD revenue in 2015, but also suffering a 50% stock price plummet in February 2016.

Qlik has appeared to be for sale for a while and the move to de-list from the stock market and become owned by a PE company has become quite normal amongst software vendors: Tibco, Informatica and more recently Dell Software are other prominent examples. 

Qlik’s stock price has remained between 20 and 40 USD for the last 5 years – basically going sideways despite its revenue growth during that period – so its frequent interactions with financial analysts and its large number of shareholders were probably not too pleasant. Qlik has faced some serious challenges in recent years, both organizationally and on the product and marketing side with the transformation from its first product generation (QlikView) to the second generation Qlik Sense. Qlik has returned to calmer waters in the last year since the release of Qlik Sense 2.0 in mid 2015. But its complete transformation to a Cloud software-oriented company is still ongoing, and the freedom to take decisions without the added scrutiny of the stock market might help to re-focus Qlik on business priorities and push it into new areas.

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Cisco Acquires ParStream

Author: Carsten Bange

Published: 27 October 2015

Abstract:
Networking giant Cisco has announced its intent to buy ParStream, a young analytical database vendor based in Germany and the US. This acquisition strengthens Cisco’s ability to build networks with real-time data acquisition and storage “on the edges” of the network in distributed infrastructures.

Click here to download the full article

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Permira Private Equity and Canada Pension Plan Take Informatica Private Informatica agrees to be acquired for $5.3 billion

Author: Andreas Bitterer

Published: 9 April 2015

Abstract:
In a surprising move, Informatica Corporation, a publicly traded and market-leading provider of data integration, data quality and master data management solutions agreed to be acquired by two private equity firms that will take the vendor private.

Click here to download the full article

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Marlin Equity Partners Acquires Arcplan The Consolidation in the BI Market Continues

Authors: Carsten Bange, Andreas Bitterer

Published: 7 April 2015

Abstract:
German business intelligence software vendor Arcplan has agreed to be acquired by US-based private equity firm Marlin Equity Partners for an undisclosed sum. The Arcplan company and its product portfolio is expected to be merged with Longview Solutions, a Canadian provider of business performance management solutions and another Marlin Equity Partners portfolio company.

Click here to download the full article

Self-service BI and the DIY trap

Here is a common scenario, seen in organizations all over the planet. I’m talking about self-service, which is meant to be a good idea.

DIYFor quite a while now, self-service BI has been all the rage. Understandably, business users are often discouraged, disappointed or outright annoyed by the lack of support for BI they get from their local IT departments, and so they often decided to take matters into their own hands. In most cases, Microsoft Excel comes to the rescue, but when that approach doesn’t scale or is otherwise not manageable anymore, those functional departments are looking for a more pragmatic solution. They called it self-service BI, but it was really more self-help. This is where companies such as Qlik or Tableau have seen huge success from generating demand and adoption through grassroots movements, which often happened behind IT’s back. After a while, those DIY implementations became a little more complex and the newly generated shadow IT groups needed help.

What usually happens next?

After IT’s aggravation has subsided, and the rogue projects have been reigned in again, Big IT decides to give the business what they say they want and sets out to enable their users through controlled self-service BI. Or so they thought.  Because it is not about the tool. Now, the functional departments are creating reports, dashboards, and are analyzing data to their hearts’ content, and all with IT’s blessing, yet they still don’t seem to be happy. Why? Because they often rely on self-service definitions (for lack of a better description). Only those organizations that base their BI infrastructure on a commonly agreed data model and semantic layer, the confusion over what means revenue, how many customers have churned, or the profitability of a certain product, can be kept to a minimum. Many others look at their beautiful self-serviced dashboards, nicely rendered on the latest mobile gadget, and have the same funny feeling as before that the figures they are looking at do not represent the truth. So, be careful what you wish for when you say you want “self-service” as there are still a few traps along the way. Some infrastructure guardrails are necessary.

An RFP is not a Request For Propaganda

I get it. Responding to an organisation’s Request For Proposal (RFP) is not everyone’s favorite way to spend time. After all, first you need to read and understand the requirements described in the RFP to begin with, then figure out whether your organization has something to offer in this field, whether necessary personnel is available, come up with competitive pricing, and when that’s all done, write it all up in a comprehensive proposal that stands out from the rest. And all of that well knowing that it may be a total waste of time, if another provider is selected. It’s tough to be a vendor sometimes.

roosterI am currently involved in an RFP for what can be considered an  end-to-end BI implementation, from data integration and data quality to the data warehouse, its data model,  and finally various BI front-ends. Almost a green field approach, which is kinda rare these days.

So after carefully developing the requirements list and turning it into a concise RFP, it’s now the time to review the responses from about 10 solution providers, some of which are global organisations, others smaller and more locally operating vendors. And it became very clear that the size of the organization is no indication for the quality of the response. Similarly, a vendor’s grand reputation can be at a stark contrast to a very sloppy proposal from the same company. Sometimes it seems as if the vendor isn’t even interested in the engagement. So why respond at all then?

However, what gets me real mad is when a vendor sends a 50 page proposal from which 40 pages are pure propaganda, five pages are boilerplate stuff, and another five pages interesting content about the topic at hand. If I want to read a vendor’s marketing blurb, I’ll go and visit their website. But when I want to learn about a vendor’s approach, capabilities, pricing, skills, etc., they should better spare me the slogans. After all, we didn’t just pull their name out of thin air, but thoroughly  research them before inviting them to the RFP in the first place.  So there is little need for a standard marketing pitch.

 

BI in the Cloud: The Theoretical Adoption

I recently received an invitation to a webinar named “Your checklist for Cloud BI success!” from Yellowfin, a BI vendor from down under, headquartered in Melbourne. In the announcement, I read

By the end of 2014, Gartner expects almost 50% of organizations to deliver their mission-critical BI via the cloud.

Say what? The end of 2014 is not even a whole month away, and by that time, half of all organizations are using BI in the cloud, even for what’s considered mission-critical decisions? No way, José.  I mean, this incredible adoption of BI in the cloud must either have happened in a parallel universe, or something is totally off with that statement. I know my former colleagues at Gartner well, and I doubt that anyone dealing with BI trends would come up with such a prediction.

I asked the folks at Yellowfin for some clarification as to where they found that statement, and received the following references, two media outlets and one blog:

After scanning those texts, I came across related sections discussing BI in the cloud. In the ComputerWorld article, I read:

Researchers at Gartner say that 2014 may be the tipping point for cloud BI. In each of the last four years, around 30% of respondents to a Gartner survey said they’d run their mission-critical BI in the cloud. This year, however, nearly half — 45% — said they would adopt cloud BI.

The Brittenford blog says the same thing, word by word. Looks like the “blogger” just pulled that section from the CW article.

Researchers at Gartner say that 2014 may be the tipping point for cloud BI. In each of the last four years, around 30% of respondents to a Gartner survey said they’d run their mission-critical BI in the cloud. This year, however, nearly half (45 percent) said they would adopt cloud BI.

Marissa Tejada from the Midsize Insider also references the CW article, the message is the same.

In a recent ComputerWorld article, Gartner analysts revealed their insights on recent industry trends around the cloud and BI. Within the last four years, about 30 percent of firms preferred to run their mission-critical BI through cloud computing. That percentage is set to increase to 45 percent this year.

Wait a minute, those 30% or 45% from the first two references said they would adopt cloud BI. Which means they did not, or not yet. In the Midsize Insider article, those same percentages preferred cloud BI, which sounds as if they are already underway, which I really doubt.

Bottom line: Lots of companies consider cloud BI as an option. That’s it, no surprise there. Now, I personally could consider a lot of things, for example, base jumping from a skyscraper or putting a Hello Kitty tattoo on my forehead. Doesn’t mean I’ll do either. Same thing will be true for many of those organizations that said they’d consider cloud BI. They’ll never do it.

The much more interesting thing to know is obviously how many organizations have a significant (!) number of their user population consume BI via the cloud today. Still relatively few. According to the 2014 BARC BI Survey, which includes a breakdown of cloud BI adoption by vendor from over 2000 end-user respondents, only 10% of organizations use cloud BI at all. The percentage of total users is obviously even smaller than that.  If only the BI vendors with a large customer base would tell us what percentage of their BI revenue is actually coming from cloud BI subscriptions, because that would provide a good indication of adoption. I’m fairly sure that it is still in low single-digit percentages. So far, no vendor has objected.

Still, as for the Yellowfin statement, that started this whole investigation:

By the end of 2014, Gartner expects almost 50% of organizations to deliver their mission-critical BI via the cloud.

Maybe it’s just a simple misunderstanding, maybe it’s wishful thinking. In any case, it clearly distorts the facts, which isn’t helping anyone.

 

P.S.
Coincidentally, Yellowfin, a provider of cloud BI solutions, is leading the cloud BI adoption statistics by quite a margin. Get the whole BI Survey here.

BI Strategy – Are We There Yet?

Welcome to my blog. After a blogging hiatus of about two years, where I just didn’t feel like it, I am back online and ready to pick up some of the topics where I left off. And I will certainly be willing to pick up a glove if need be. There are quite a few controversial subjects in the land of BI, big data, and overall data management, and I will start sharing my views going forward.

One of my favorite discussion topics over the last 10 years is “BI strategy” or rather the lack thereof. I may sound like a broken record, but at closer inspection of organizations’ attempts at business intelligence, it becomes glaringly obvious that most implementations are not based on a real strategy, but on faith and hope.

So why is it that hardly any organization has a true BI strategy and so many BI implementations fail to deliver? Here are a few attempts at an explanation:

  1. Lack of executive commitment
  2. Shortsighted focus on just quick wins
  3. Lack of communication
  4. Internal politics
  5. Not invented here syndrome
  6. Extreme time pressure

I could go on. It is interesting, though, that hardly any stumbling blocks are of technological nature. Pretty much all problems that relate to a lack of a BI strategy are homemade. At the same time, when I review a document that is called “BI strategy”, it almost exclusively focuses on the technology bits, as if that is what it is all about. Of course, BI would never work without technology, but the more important and much harder topics to think about are people–related: requirements, steering, stewardship, or program management.

 

As a reference, here are some of the suggested chapter headings of a potential strategy document. Feel free to contact me to discuss.

BI strategy