It is not often that an acquisition makes obvious sense even before you read the press release. More often they are land grabs, or the removal of competition, or fill in a small hole in an existing product set, or make up for failures in existing products. Often enough they make no obvious sense at all and they frequently mean the demise of the acquired product or, at least, it's being confined to the acquirer's user base. The acquisition of Panopticon by Datawatch falls into none of these categories but is a purchase that is obviously an intelligent move by a company that has, over the last year or so (since Michael Morrison took over as CEO), finally got its act together.
For those that don't know Datawatch this is a company that has been around for a long time and it is widely used as plumbing underneath front-end BI tools. This is because its strength is in what the company used to call report mining: it reads data from all sorts of sources (ERP reports, XML documents, Excel, pdf - to name just a few) and allows you to combine this data for query purposes, which can then be used by relevant BI tools to analyse the data. But plumbing isn't very sexy.
Panopticon, on the other hand, is sexy. The company is (was) Swedish and it is a data visualisation and query environment that runs against real-time data. For example, StreamView, the front-end query environment for StreamBase (now TIBCO) was built using Panopticon. More generally, you can think of Panopticon as a competitor to Tableau.
While Datawatch's historic problem has been that it wasn't sexy and was therefore difficult to market, Panopticon's has been that it wasn't made in America and the company found it difficult to get the traction its technology warranted (apart from capital markets where Panopticon is the dominant vendor) so this acquisition brings allure to the former and greater market reach to the latter.
In technical terms, Datawatch spent some time integrating the two product sets prior to the acquisition, so they already work closely together. It means that Datawatch can now access the real-time feeds (ticker feeds and message queues as well as streaming engines) that Panopticon supports.
From a go-to-market perspective this acquisition means that Datawatch now has a complete story to take to market: it can sell Panopticon to its thousands of existing customers and it can market Datawatch to existing Panopticon users. Further, Datawatch can leverage the partnerships Panopticon brings to the table. These include SAP (Sybase RAP), TIBCO (StreamBase), Thomson Reuters, Kx Systems and OneTick. Note how these partnerships explain Panopticon's dominance in the capital markets sector but, from Datawatch's perspective, there is obviously potential to extend the partnerships with StreamBase and Sybase out to wider TIBCO and SAP environments. This is particularly true with the growing interest in the Internet of Things where there are many potential environments where real-time analytics are required.
From my perspective this acquisition is unalloyed good news. There is no user of either product that should feel anything other than pleased and there are no potential threats to any existing user environments. Of course, it means increased competition for the likes of Tableau but competition is a good thing. So, for once, I can be unequivocal about endorsing this acquisition.
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