IBM's ShinyHappy™ SAP Ariba deal papers over SaaS fail

Emptoris procurement product is being taken behind the shed just five years after acquisition

A person hiding in a box

IBM and SAP Ariba last week shared a stage and delivered the ShinyHappy™ news that the two are throwing their respective Watson and Leonardo artificial intelligences at “cognitive procurement solutions that redefine the source-to-settle process.”

But the announcement glossed over the fact that IBM already has a cloudy procurement solution and is shunting it aside.

IBM's product is called “Emptoris”, from a company of the same name, and was reported to have come with a US$600m price tag when Big Blue acquired it in 2011. Big Blue bought Emptoris to advance the “Smarter Commerce” play it ran a few years ago, in pursuit of what it described as “a $20 billion market opportunity in software alone.”

IBM appears not to have been able to cash in on that opportunity, because The Register has learned that Emptoris is being discontinued and users will be encouraged to move to SAP's Ariba.

An IBM spokesperson told us that the company “continues to evolve its portfolio based on the needs of clients and market directions.”

“We are encouraging Emptoris clients to transition to SAP Ariba. We will work closely with them providing support and transition services. Clients can continue to use Emptoris.”

Reg readers need no reminder that the enterprise technology market moves quickly… perhaps too fast for IBM strategists, given that an acquisition from just six years ago has been deemed surplus to requirements.

Emptoris is almost certainly not the first application to be found unfit for a necessary renovation to catch it up to recent innovations. So IBM may not have flubbed things entirely.

But on the face of the matter, IBM has set out its stall as being a cloud company and in six years has acquired and disposed of a SaaS asset and will now steer its clients towards a rival's offering. Make of that what you will as you contemplate the company's cost-cutting ban on contract hire, crackdown on travel expenses, 20 quarters of declining revenue and office consolidation program with ban on working from home. ®

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