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Blogs > MWD Advisors

TIBCO needs more 'show', less 'tell'
Neil Ward-Dutton By: Neil Ward-Dutton, Research Director, MWD Advisors
Published: 28th June 2012
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License
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TIBCO’s latest customer event drew a sizeable audience and gave good glitz – but the detail was disjointed. This reflects both the challenges and the opportunities that TIBCO faces as it continues with its current strategy. (By Angela Ashenden, Helena Schwenk, Mark McGregor and Neil Ward-Dutton)

This week, the MWD analyst team all attended TIBCO’s ‘transform’ event in London. This is a new event format for TIBCO, designed to take a flavour of TIBCO’s flagship TUCON user conference on the road – as well as London, the event has already rolled through Sydney, Tokyo and Singapore; and just after London, the show was wrapped in Paris.

It’s something that a number of the large enterprise tech vendors are doing; recognising that travel budgets aren’t what they were, the idea is to create a vehicle that is big enough to justify pulling senior execs around with it, and hence create a mobile environment where potential customers are going to get to have conversations with Corporate leaders that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

The morning keynote sessions were bound to struggle to hold audience interest (which is what we heard from some attendees), running as they did for 2 hours without a break (something you often get at big US customer events but not so much in other territories, as a rule – perhaps American bladders are bigger?) but some of what was on show struck strong chords: particularly the usage scenario videos and examples. It’s just a shame that these were so brief.

Overall our feeling was that the organisers had forgotten that age-old exhortation: “show, don’t tell”. In eagerness to demonstrate TIBCO’s strong financial fundamentals, passion for innovation, strong investment roadmap and so on, the speakers worked valiantly and earnestly but the overall impression we got was of being hit over the head with a sack full of acronyms.

The afternoon sessions were an odd mixture. Some sessions provided loads of great stories about how businesses have delivered results with technology (most notably those in the Nimbus track – no surprise, given that this was basically a condensed version of Nimbus’ user conference, which was always very strongly centred on case study presentations) – but other tracks dug right into the technology with no significant mention of customer benefit or success at all.

That’s a missed opportunity, because cross-fertilising the culture of Nimbus (business-centred, leading with customer success) and ‘heritage’ TIBCO (tech-centred, focused on R&D prowess) is a crucial part of what TIBCO needs to do – with the customers brought into the company through *all* of TIBCO’s recent acquisitions. Its ’2 Second Advantage’ tagline is a great way to engage people’s imaginations: but the challenge for TIBCO is to then take that and make it real at a lower level of detail. The transform event didn’t quite hit the mark.

Here’s what Angela (who’s our Collaboration lead) had to say: For me, Transform London was an opportunity to take a closer look at the way TIBCO tibbr is positioned in the UK. What I found was that there is definitely more that the company could be doing here. In the morning session, tibbr was well-represented, with social positioned alongside TIBCO’s process and event management capabilities. However, this was somewhat let down in the breakout sessions in the afternoon – there was just one session focused on tibbr, and I felt it simply didn’t go far enough in clarifying the opportunities that the product offers to businesses. While there were customers referenced in the presentation, it lacked the kind of real-world evidence that customer case studies offer. It is not enough to say that social software can help; people need to understand *how* it can help, and how you go about getting people to use this stuff. All-in-all, there’s still plenty of work for TIBCO to do in spreading the word about the value of social software.

Here’s what Helena (our Analytics lead) had to say: In its keynotes TIBCO used all the buzzwords that you would typically expect (social, cloud, analytics), but it failed to map this vision to enough real-world customer examples. This is such as shame – I think TIBCO has a lot of the necessary pieces in its platform (Spotfire, Business Events,  messaging middleware etc) to support a compelling story around enabling dynamic customer cross-sell and up-sell, for example, in a way that backs up its ’2 Second Advantage’ tagline.

TIBCO’s Big Data story was vague.The company needs to be clearer in how it is going to support the unstructured and high volume side of Big Data to complement its support for real time data. Saying it integrates with Hadoop is not enough to differentiate itself in this market.

Overall TIBCO has a lot of the constituent technology pieces to take on competitors like IBM; however it does feel like the company has more to do to integrate all of these pieces and more importantly to make it easier for its customers to join-the-dots.

Finally, here’s Mark’s take (he’s our new Process and organisational change expert): The event seemed to fall a little between two stools. It neither had the technical depth that the more technical attendees might have liked to see, nor was it focused enough on the actual business issues solved that a more business-savvy audience might want. Perhaps this is the challenge for vendors in creating “super events”: it can be difficult to please everyone. From a personal perspective it was great to listen to the user presentations from Sony Europe and The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. The groups I was with seemed to really enjoy these, and especially listening to the challenges they faced and the lessons learned in overcoming them. Over the next week I’ll share more details on these stories in order that we can all learn from their experience.

It was interesting to listen to the way in which Nimbus has approached the issue of integrating Control with other TIBCO products. The approach has been to identify which of the other family products add value to what Control already did, that value being identified through the eyes of its customers. This has meant that tibbr, Spotfire and Formvine became the first products integrated. From what we saw the integrations seemed to make sense and offer great value in leveraging the existing Nimbus content that a customer has.

Did you attend the London event, or any of the other events (Paris, Sydney, Singapore, Tokyo)? If so – do you agree with our analysis? It would be great to get your comments here!

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