With just a rudimentary understanding of the technology market, automobile enthusiasts — if they were asked — could quickly grasp what Tibco Software has been doing and, more importantly, where it is going.
So let's start there.
Think of the Palo Alto, Calif-based company as the equivalent of the best that German automobile engineering (or, arguably, Italian) has ever produced: top quality and enough horse power to take on the autobahn backed by years of R&D and quality controls.
But while you can appreciate the genius that is behind, say, Mercedes Benz's F 015 Luxury in Motion Concept Car the truth is, you know perfectly well that you all need right now is a reliable Toyota.
So. Tibco. It is best known for its sophisticated integration technology, middleware and APIs. It is, in short, the go to platform for the top enterprise multinationals around the world.
But what about the rest of us?
That is the existential question Tibco has been wrestling with for the last few years, its CTO Matt Quinn freely admitted to CMSWire at last week’s annual user conference, Tibco Now 2016, held in Las Vegas.
“We’ve been building the best engine and not thinking about who is going to use it,” he said. “It is the one thing we have to get better at.”
Emerging from Its Quiet Period
Tibco went private in 2014, many have speculated, because it needed the breathing room to retool its approach to market and product line up. It was clear even then that Tibco hadn’t figured out how to differentiate itself among emerging technologies such as analytics.
Spotfire, its analytics product, launched around the same time as Tableau. While Spotfire has made inroads among business users, especially Tibco’s installed base, Tableau is among the acknowledged leaders in this space.
That narrative may be changing as Tibco rolls out new products in such areas as cloud deployment, business process management, streaming analytics and — of all things considering its background — low code product development.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is on that list, too. But Tibco, or rather Quinn doesn’t foresee a wholesale adoption of IoT in the near future. In previous years there was a ramp up in IoT spend but now companies are pulling back a little, perhaps to wait for better product cycles.
Quinn blames other vendors in part for that. “Frankly I haven’t been too impressed with what the market has delivered to date,” he said. Tibco, it shouldn't come as a surprise, is gunning for that space as well.
Where Tibco plans to stand out from its competitors in this area is its old school expertise in integration.
A Cloud Integration Product Set
One of the new products announced at the conference was TIBCO Cloud Services, a set of tools that allows users to create customized cloud solutions tailored to the workflow using Tibco’s APIs and packaged connectors or via their own integrations.
The tools are TIBCO Cloud Integration, TIBCO BusinessWorks Container Edition, and TIBCO Simplr. These would be Quinn’s Toyotas and Volvos — products for drivers that don’t need or want muscle cars.
In corporate speak they are the line-of-business users that just want to connect SaaS applications for their particular domains or digital corporate citizens that want a low-code way of connecting existing SaaS services and new sources of data to streamline their work.
Big Picture Business
Tibco’s integration skill set, though, is on full display in products meant for the big picture tasks: Project Flogo, lightweight integration software solution for IoT, and TIBCO Graph Database, a translytical database for big data.
Project Flogo, built on open source code, is a design bot — one of the first according to Tibco — for IoT application development. Its tile-based, zero-code platform with prepackaged building blocks for, say, data processing and microservices, lets developers build and deploy integration and data processing directly onto connected devices.
Then there is Tibco Graph Database, which stores data as intelligence scheme so users can discover important relationships.
This is the different between Graph database and other database products, Quinn explains. The latter store information about relationships as rows and columns and then users write applications to link the information together. The Graph, by contrast, is able to capture those relationships even — especially — those connected by IoT.
I ask for another example and get the sense that it may be Quinn who may be the car enthusiast in the room because this is what he tells me:
"Imagine I am a car manufacturer and my products consists of thousands, tens of thousands of parts that are sourced from around the world. Not only that but some of the parts used in a car produced one day may come from one vendor but on the following day are made from another vendor. Or maybe these parts are shifted on the production line on an hourly basis. If someone wants to know the origin of a part used in a particular vehicle manufactured on a certain date, right now it is almost impossible for the manufacturer to say."
The Graph data base, however, can track these relationships and product the answer, he said.
“Business is made up of complex and multiple relationships. In the end, all companies want to do is able to understand these relationships and use the information to the best of their ability,” he said.
Title image by Mercedes