TIBCO CEO: How Real-Time Computing Will Change the Landscape

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Tibco CEO Vivek Ranadive talks with IDGE Chief Content Officer John Gallant about why your company needs to move to real-time computing and how TIBCO's 'two-second advantage' can change your business.

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Vivek Ranadive is not only the chief executive officer of TIBCO Software, Inc., he's a New York Times bestselling author (of works like The Power of Now, The Power to Predict and the recently released The Two-Second Advantage: How We Succeed by Anticipating the Future -- Just Enough.) As you'd expect from such a literary type, this proponent of event-driven computing and herald of Enterprise 3.0 is handy with a well-turned phrase. He describes your relational database as a "phone that doesn't ring" and his description of what happens when you open a certain software package from rival IBM is likely to stick in your mind. In this latest installment of the IDG Enterprise CEO Interview Series, Ranadive spoke with IDGE Chief Content Officer John Gallant about why your company needs to move to real-time computing and how TIBCO's 'two-second advantage' can change your business.

Q: Let's start by setting the table. Explain for folks what it is that TIBCO does for enterprise customers and what makes the company unique among enterprise software providers?

Q: A recent presentation that TIBCO delivered for the analyst community said the company is in the 'pole position to capitalize on a tipping- point.' You mentioned this tipping-point earlier, but what's bringing more and more customers to this point?

A: The perfect storm has come together to bring us to this tipping point. The first thing is the rise in mobility. You want to be able to do things where and when you want. The cloud is a driving factor, as well as the global nature of competition where people are fighting to hold on to their customers, let alone get new customers. Then the technology itself, where the cost of solid state memory has fallen even faster than the cost of disk drives.

Now you're able to do things in memory, in real-time. If I had told you 10 years ago that you would be conducting most of your life off a cell phone, you would have been skeptical. Similarly, if 99 percent of a company's business affairs today are conducted out of a database, in a decade we'll have reached the point where most things will be done outside of the database and off a service bus, in real-time. So it's all these big factors; the emergence of mobility, the emergence of cloud computing, the cost of solid-state memory plummeting, global competition, the emergence of social networking on the Web; that have pushed us to the tipping point. It's also the bad economy of the past few years. Companies had to find ways to do more with less, they had to find ways they could upsell to their existing customers. They had to find some way to actually get some kind of an advantage so they were willing to try new things. When we normally do a beta launch, we have -- say a half a dozen people sign on. When we announced our last beta, we had six hundred people wanting to be a part of it -- it was a hundredfold increase in the number. When you look at the numbers of people our partners are training, you see a tenfold increase.

Q: Alright, now talk about the business process management portion of the business.

A: So now you've got the connections to everything, you've got the nervous system. BPM is kind of like the muscles. It's what makes things happen. Once everything is connected on the bus then you can use the BPM module to create an end-to-end business process. A business process is an end-to-end unit of work. It's auditing cash flow; it's provisioning somebody for a service. Those are business processes. In order to accomplish that, you have to touch seven, eight, 10, 100 different systems. It's about allowing people to come in on a Friday and decide that they want to do a new kind of offer, and have it be looked at, modeled, analyzed and then put into production in days, not years or months. That's what BPM allows you to do.

Q: The next area is business optimization.

Q: I wanted to get in a couple of company- and market-specific questions. In 2010 you acquired six companies. Why the acceleration on the M&A front? What's the strategy there?

A: Our strategy is that we like to acquire technology, we don't like to buy revenue. A lot of companies, like Oracle, buy a lot of revenue. Those, in my mind, are mature companies. You know, they're buying maintenance, basically, they're buying revenue. We like to buy technology. For example, we paid $11 million for a company called Netrics and I got $50 million or $60 million of R&D for that $11 million. They fit into my eventing platform and my master data management platform and allow you to look at data just like a human being, using what we call a bipartite algorithm. When the Detroit Christmas Eve bomber struck a year ago, two years ago; his name was on the terror watch list, everyone knew he was a bad guy, and his data said he was a bad guy. But the reason that he wasn't stopped was because one letter in his name was misspelled. This Netrics technology, which augments our master data and BPM capabilities, thinks like the human brain and it cross references, whether your name is spelled with two 'l's' or one 'l', it knows you're the same guy. Those are the kind of deals that we like, when we see great technology that fits into our stack we like to buy it.

Q: Looking back at 2010 and this year, you've had terrific financial growth. What's driving that growth, and what's the catalyst that makes somebody it's time to make the move to TIBCO?

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