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Will Boomi’s strategy succeed with new management?

It is always hit or miss whether a blog post will solicit dialogue from readers. TBR’s recent blog post Who is going to want Boomi? certainly struck a chord. The blog focused on the actions of the private equity firms intending to acquire Boomi, which ultimately led Boomi to provide TBR with deeper insight into its most recent achievements, activities and aspirations as the company moves to new corporate ownership. Boomi has a sound growth strategy with a high chance of success, assuming the company and its new owners are in strategic alignment.

Evaluating the business using an inside-out/outside-in construct provides a reasonable framework for the market implications Boomi ― and really any integration PaaS (iPaaS) vendor ― will face in the years ahead. The situation starts with a universal fact: Digital businesses gain a competitive advantage against peers if they automate the flow of data across their organization. Any step where a business has to add labor when a peer does not is a cost disadvantage. In this respect, Boomi’s value is twofold: 1) automations can be built into the process and tightly integrated so that they don’t break as applications evolve, and 2) organizations can create even greater advantage when they are discovering data from all of their sources and understand the data and applications involved in the automation process.

Figure 1

Outside in: The rise of data management and asymmetric competition

Our initial blog on the sale of Boomi referenced UiPath and startups Kong and Entefy as potential asymmetric challengers to Boomi’s core value proposition. Additionally, you have the basic PaaS offerings from the exascale cloud platforms providing prebuilt connectors and myriad additional services for security, data protection and data management. SaaS players, as mentioned in our prior blog, offer prebuilt integrations to popular, adjacent applications. Numerous vendors vie for what they generally call single-pane-of-glass management in multiple forms, with all vendors stressing analytics and automation in some manner.

Just as paramount is the economywide war for talent. Qualified talent versed in new technologies and tools are sought virtually everywhere, making it an employee’s market. As is the case with any acquisition, talent retention and recruitment will be key to the innovations Boomi has charted out in its development road map. In acquisition parlance, it is called putting “the golden handcuffs” on essential personnel to ensure they do not jump to a competing firm. Locking down key engineering talent will be critical.

Situationally, iPaaS tool sets can be acquired either in best-of-breed fashion or by standardization on one platform that is expansive enough to solve an immediate need and evolve with the organization. In large enterprises, there could be a mix of tools based on those brought into the organization via acquisition. In this way, iPaaS brands can be pigeonholed for what they have been offering and not necessarily given consideration for their go-forward innovations. In turn, tool purchases are often a derived decision as part of a broader initiative. The cost is justified in terms of the time savings for the business initiative rather than how the purchase will make the life of the IT department easier.

It is for this reason Figure 1 references “Strategic Alliances; ‘White Label.’” Externally, many global systems integrators (GSIs) are pivoting to managed services offerings, especially the advisory firms with deep tax and audit credentials, whose distinction comes from the tax and audit knowledge base they can automate to address data management, governance and compliance rules.

By underpinning GSI software development with its own tools, Boomi can gain a distinct selling advantage into large enterprises as it will have these influencers and quasi sellers  at its disposal. Tighter relationships will also help Boomi keep an ear to the ground on the emerging technology vendors that GSIs and early adopter enterprises are considering and those that pose an asymmetric threat to the Boomi core.

Furthermore, Boomi made clear it does not aspire to substantially grow its consulting and services operations. GSIs will find this clear swim lane delineation refreshing considering the ways in which traditional services and software firms are beginning to encroach on one another’s core offerings.

Inside out: Transforming direct selling and creating new demand through ‘add to cart’

As a technology firm selling technology to IT departments, Boomi has sound, traditional selling motions. Increasingly, however, we hear the clarion call of selling business outcomes, and that move to consultative selling to lines of business will be necessary, given technology matters less and less while people and process matter more. In turn, studies show buyers want to self-research products and then self-provision those products from online portals.

Boomi has made steps in that regard with the availability of its AtomSphere Go edition, which aims to give customers a frictionless buying experience, at an early entry price point of $50 per month. AtomSphere Go also gives Boomi a way to disaggregate the various services in the existing offer to allow Boomi to move down market to reach late-majority enterprises. Additionally, Boomi recently announced AtomSphere Go is available on Amazon Marketplace, the mecca for seamless, add-to-cart ordering.

That type of selling, often called “land and expand,” has a very different set of operating best practices than traditional direct, or blue suit, selling. The aspiration of this kind of selling is lifetime customer value (LCV). It requires a different type of telephone support that is part technical advisory and part consultative selling for cross- and up-sell opportunities with smaller enterprises.

It is also a business model where revenue and expense do not align to the 90-day quarterly reporting cycle. This requires a leap of trust to embark on such selling approaches, as costs will far outweigh revenue until scale is achieved and the “flywheel effect” kicks in. For startup operations it is a very prominent challenge, and for Boomi the challenge will come more from setting up the operations with different motions and finding a way to balance investing in selling motions with awaiting payoff of the new add-to-cart operations.

Situation analysis: Never confuse a clear view for a short distance

TBR has laid out Boomi’s situation analysis levers as 1) talent retention and ongoing innovation to continue evolving a traditional space (iPaaS) that is being encroached upon by startups and established vendors on all sides, 2) heightened partner selling, and 3) a challenging shift to the add-to-cart selling model primarily to move down market, which requires fiscal patience. Provided there’s a vision match with the new owners, Boomi has solid platform depth and breadth with a reasonable innovation road map to survive and thrive in this ever-accelerating business pivot where automating data management, seamlessly moving data and empowering the right users to engage with data are paramount to maintain a persistent competitive advantage no matter the standard industrial classification (SIC) code.

So, what do you think? Will Boomi’s strategy succeed with new management?

In TBR’s newest blog series, What Do You Think?, we’re sharing questions our subject-matter experts have been asking each other lately, as well as posing the question to our readers. If you’d like to discuss this edition’s topic further, contact Geoff Woollacott at [email protected].

Who is going to want Boomi?

In TBR’s newest blog series, What Do You Think?, we’re sharing questions our subject-matter experts have been asking each other lately, as well as posing the question to our readers. If you’d like to discuss this edition’s topic further, contact Geoff Woollacott at [email protected].

What Happened

Boomi will be sold to Francisco Partners and TPG for $4 billion in yet another in a series of asset sales, spinoffs and engineering measures Dell EMC has been making to cover the debt load from Dell’s acquisition of EMC in 2016. But this is not about Dell and the efficacy of its strategic actions. This is about Boomi. Who is going to want Boomi?

It is a broad question in terms of customers and potential buyers. Ultimately, the acquiring equity firms that shelled out $4 billion for the assets will want to “optimize” Boomi to resell the operation in whole or in part for more than $4 billion after having added their “value.” Rarely are these equity firms eager to sink money into long-overdue R&D to align an aging portfolio to the current market situation. If they were home flippers, they would want to put a fresh coat of paint on the clapboards for a five-year fix, not strip the bottom four rows of siding, replace the sill damage, reside it and paint it for a 15-year fix.

Customer Situation

Boomi lags with API tool sets in an era often called the API economy. Even those with sound API management capabilities such as MuleSoft are now being called into question for not having API automation for push-button development capabilities. There are a lot of emerging companies, such as Entefy and Kong, getting serious evaluation in early adopter enterprises as the next leap forward in the iPaaS tool set space while UiPath receives mention in TBR’s discussions with customers as having the capabilities to swing into this space as well.

Boomi’s sweet spot seems to be the late majority large and midsize enterprises, with most of these customer applications residing on premises and many of them bespoke or highly customized. These data transport vessels are like the African Queen steamboat chugging along in the data river.  These data center leaders will not find out-of-the-box API integrations into their bespoke applications from the leading SaaS apps they may be adopting at the start of their slow roll to native-cloud applications and data center consolidations that are a threat to Boomi as well as the traditional hardware manufacturers such as Dell, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Lenovo.

Those are the customers that will likely want Boomi, but the number of potential buyers will rapidly dwindle as the market trends that threaten that sweet spot support the continued acceleration of cloud migration, sparked by the pandemic. Specifically, Salesforce’s 2018 acquisition of MuleSoft provided the SaaS front-office leader with an integration layer to tie together its proprietary solutions, in addition to integrations with AppExchange, its app partner ecosystem. While MuleSoft was born in legacy IT, its combination with Salesforce provides MuleSoft with substantial capital to innovate and evolve its offerings for better alignment with Salesforce by enhancing its tool sets for cloud application integration. Boomi’s challenge is to take these core strengths for business-to-business/EDI management and easy self-service reporting and integrations and build out the API and AI/machine learning capabilities sooner rather than later.

Buyer situation

In terms of who may want Boomi in their portfolio, the current owners likely eye Salesforce’s $6.5 billion acquisition of MuleSoft as the kind of pinata they hope to crack open with this $4 billion swing at a payoff. To TBR, that is likely a swing and a miss due to the aging portfolio issues referenced. Yes, SaaS players will increasingly bake in iPaaS tool sets, but emerging SaaS players will be less inclined to worry about on-premises and bespoke integrations where Boomi excels as they will be to have out-of-the-box connectors to market-share-leading SaaS apps in other segments.

This leaves buyers looking to consolidate aging assets to profitably manage opportunity in declining markets. A sound firm such as Informatica can follow the acquisition strategy deployed to great success by Computer Associates (CA) in the late ’80s and the ’90s as minicomputer consolidation started. In essence, CA became a software distributor of disparate, stand-alone utilities and tools for the various proprietary install bases that started their slow decline into irrelevance as Intel/Microsoft ate the data center. The CA acquisitions in that era were often asset sales, however. Ultimately, that consolidation caught up to both CA and BMC. While they are in operation, they likely lack the cash flow to justify adding Boomi to their boneyard — unless, of course, the equity partners decide to cut their losses if the financial pinata fails to crack open.

So, what do you think? Who is going to want Boomi?

SaaS sweetens the cloud pot but requires vendors to up their ante to participate

‘Best of breed’ spawns diversity in the SaaS provider landscape

The vendor landscape may be consolidating on the IaaS side of the cloud market, but that is not the case for SaaS. Customers are most likely to increase the number of SaaS vendors utilized over the next two years, supported by a number of market trends, including new workload and feature adoption, platform ecosystems, and integrated multicloud deployments.

For workload adoption, there is a leveling of the playing field for which services customers are considering cloud as a deployment method. ERP, for example, used to lag in public cloud adoption but is now much closer to par with often adopted services like CRM and HR. Much of this increased consideration comes from enhanced comfort on behalf of customers for delivering sensitive workloads from cloud providers versus their on-premises data centers.

The other factor is the proliferation of complementary services available via PaaS ecosystems. The most tenured and largest example of this comes from the Salesforce Platform, which supports thousands of ISVs developing and selling solutions that complement and extend core CRM. Salesforce may have been the first, but other SaaS vendors, including SAP, Workday, Microsoft and ServiceNow, are taking the same approach, exponentially growing available SaaS services. The last driver is the continued rise of best-of-breed customer purchasing. For contracting and performance reasons, customers have long yearned for multivendor application environments, and now vendors are actually moving to accommodate that desire. Salesforce’s acquisition of MuleSoft and SAP’s introduction of the Intelligent Enterprise vision are the latest examples of how vendors are supporting customers in choosing and integrating solutions from numerous providers.

 

This special report is part of a series driven by TBR’s Cloud Customer Research reports, for which TBR conducted more than 50 interviews and 200 surveys. These special reports will highlight key trends and topics impacting the cloud industry.

SaaS sweetens the cloud pot but requires vendors to up their ante to participate

Despite the simple graph in Figure 1 depicting SaaS market size, the space remains difficult to sum up. In the eyes of customers, SaaS options are proliferating and spanning a wide swath of business functions and stakeholders. Yes, SaaS is the largest segment of the “as a Service” cloud market—and yes, it will continue to expand. Beyond that, however, SaaS will remain a collection of separate markets, with most vendors specializing in one or two core and adjacent areas, instead of one unified opportunity. Some examples of this fragmented and overlapping landscape include Microsoft leveraging collaboration dominance to reinvigorate its CRM strategy with cloud delivers, SAP returning its focus to SaaS CRM after ceding the market to Salesforce, and Workday investing to build out a financials-focused SaaS business from its HR roots.

The market behaves in contrast to the IaaS market, which is highly consolidated around a standard set of often interconnected services and a small collection of vendors. In the SaaS market, growth will be achieved by new vendors addressing new workloads and features. From a vendor standpoint, there will be greater presence from legacy application providers such as SAP, Oracle and Microsoft, but also plenty of room for more niche providers as functional and regional niches develop.

While SaaS will grow the overall cloud opportunity, the challenge for vendors is that the SaaS opportunity will be more difficult to capture. That is not to say the historical model for SaaS adoption will cease to exist; there will still be SaaS purchases that are driven by lines of business (LOBs), transacted with a credit card in some cases, and deployed separately from legacy systems. At least some of the growth will continue to occur in that shadow IT model. However, much of the growth will be from SaaS solutions that deliver more critical services, are procured by joint IT and LOB teams, and are tightly integrated with legacy systems. These scenarios will require vendors both large and small to up their ante, bringing more sales, integration and support services to the table to win these more complex deals.

Figure 1

Graph depicting SaaS market size by delivery method from 2017 to 2022

‘Best of breed’ spawns diversity in the SaaS provider landscape

The vendor landscape may be consolidating on the IaaS side of the cloud market, but that is not the case for SaaS. As seen in Figure 2, customers are most likely to increase the number of SaaS vendors utilized over the next two years, supported by a number of market trends, including new workload and feature adoption, platform ecosystems, and integrated multicloud deployments.

For workload adoption, there is a leveling of the playing field for which services customers are considering cloud as a deployment method. ERP, for example, used to lag in public cloud adoption but is now much closer to par with often adopted services like CRM and HR. Much of this increased consideration comes from enhanced comfort on behalf of customers for delivering sensitive workloads from cloud providers versus their on-premises data centers.

The other factor is the proliferation of complementary services available via PaaS ecosystems. The most tenured and largest example of this comes from the Salesforce Platform, which supports thousands of ISVs developing and selling solutions that complement and extend core CRM. Salesforce may have been the first, but other SaaS vendors, including SAP, Workday, Microsoft and ServiceNow, are taking the same approach, exponentially growing available SaaS services. The last driver is the continued rise of best-of-breed customer purchasing. For contracting and performance reasons, customers have long yearned for multivendor application environments, and now vendors are actually moving to accommodate that desire. Salesforce’s acquisition of MuleSoft and SAP’s introduction of the Intelligent Enterprise vision are the latest examples of how vendors are supporting customers in choosing and integrating solutions from numerous providers.

Figure 2

Graph depicting the change in the number of cloud vendors utilized in the next two years

Expectation inflation raises the bar for SaaS providers

There may be a growing pool of revenue and room for more providers, but meeting customer expectations for SaaS solutions is anything but easy. Expectations have been on the rise, stoked by the greater control buyers have with cloud solutions versus on-premises software. The days of long-term software contract risk falling entirely on the customer are quickly coming to an end. Not only has the power dynamic shifted, but, as shown in the graph below, customers are successfully using more of their IT dollars to fund innovation over maintenance of existing systems. As a result, different evaluation criteria are being used for IT investments. Up front, there is a much more collaborative process between IT and LOB teams as they decide which offerings meet their underlying business need, not just what fits into their existing footprint. Calculating the benefits and return from SaaS investments is also a challenging task, as deployments use business outcomes as the ultimate goal. Although hard calculations seem challenging for most customers, it’s clear that enhanced levels of support and “customer success” roles are increasingly valued. Having these post-sale resources available and putting a greater focus on outcomes and other intangible benefits than on technology benefits seems to be the best way for SaaS vendors to meet inflated customer expectations for what the solutions can and should do for their business.

Figure 3

Graph depicting IT investment strategy of SaaS adopters three years ago versus now versus three years from now

Hybrid, multicloud, reunited partners featured in TBR’s upcoming cloud & software research

Going into the second half of 2018, TBR’s Cloud and Software Practice anticipates providing additional research around a few issues that have been top of mind among TBR’s clients and our analysts. The common theme across the three issues highlighted in this report is the growing focus on how cloud and software are jointly being used to deliver real solutions for customers. Highlights of the research center on how establishing hybrid capabilities is a primary challenge for enterprises and a growth driver for vendors, from the initial design and integration through to the ongoing management and optimization of the increasingly complex environments. Additionally, offering multicloud is the first priority for customers and creates opportunities for vendors other than category leaders such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Salesforce. Lastly, partnerships that were previously threatened by cloud are now realigning for new opportunities created by on-premises hybrid delivery and solution bundling. Look for more insight into these topics in our upcoming research.

Hybrid enablement is an increasingly critical predictor of vendor success
There is no question that cloud and software solutions are being increasingly deployed into hybrid environments and have been for some time now. The real customer pain point in regard to a truly hybrid environment — one or more cloud assets integrated with one or more on-premises assets for the seamless flow and sharing of data — is around enabling each of the solutions to fit into the environment and integrate with the others for optimal utilization.

Cloud and software vendors alike are investing to capitalize on this growing opportunity around empowering enterprise IT departments to integrate sprawling environments on their own, with the help of automated tools and platforms. Salesforce’s acquisition of MuleSoft is one of the more noteworthy examples as it has vast implications for both Salesforce and the market. This is because MuleSoft offers licenses alongside its subscription offerings despite Salesforce’s “No software” mantra, and because many organizations utilize one or more of Salesforce’s cloud offerings, which will soon feature and/or be integrated with Salesforce Integration Cloud, a solution that will be based on MuleSoft’s well-known Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS).

Software vendors are making similar investments, such as Red Hat announcing its own iPaaS — Fuse Online — and VMware’s continued updates to the vRealize cloud management suite. Additionally, many continue to expand their partnerships with cloud vendors and systems integrators to improve their hybrid technology and hybrid enablement portfolios, increasingly going to market with a software-led services approach.
Cloud brokerage and hybrid integration pure plays continue to generate buzz as well, providing attractive solutions for enterprise IT departments struggling to keep pace with integrations, orchestration and skill sets. We expect some of these vendors to be acquired over the next couple of years as cloud and software vendors look to quickly build out their hybrid integration and enablement tool sets.

Consolidation around leading PaaS & IaaS vendors does not reduce competition
The public cloud IaaS market, substantially made up of businesses that complement scalable infrastructure with general purpose PaaS, has consolidated around the four leading U.S.-based cloud vendors — AWS, Microsoft, IBM and Google — and one international vendor, Alibaba, which has been successful in the highly exclusive Chinese market and is diligently focused on effectively competing with these U.S.-based vendors on an international stage.

Among the insights gleaned from TBR’s upcoming Cloud Infrastructure & Platforms Customer Research, it is becoming evident that even in discrete use cases and niche industries, the general-purpose nature of these vendors has enabled them to be considered across needs. Many customers agree that there is a delicate equilibrium yet to be found in first balancing on-premises and cloud deployments, and then balancing vendor lock-in concerns, usage volume discounts, vendor specializations and multivendor environment complexity. TBR will closely watch and assess how each vendor overcomes its perceived downfalls and positions itself to help customers best weigh the benefits and drawbacks of increasing cloud adoption.

In particular, customers almost universally recognize Google Cloud as the third option behind AWS and Microsoft Azure, citing TensorFlow as a key technology that will drive Google’s growth into a more prominent cloud vendor, but in the same breath identify that Google’s enterprise vision has not matured from “talk the talk,” particularly outside of the executive office of Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene. Meanwhile, Azure has become a viable alternative to AWS for many customers that note general ubiquity in each vendor’s ability to support various enterprise needs. TBR expects the closeness in AWS and Azure functionality, strained by the maturation of Google’s enterprise vision and Alibaba’s increasingly competitive entry into Western markets, will cause the converging market to grow quickly around this competition.

Partnerships are being both stressed and created as the cloud market evolves
The increased focus on cloud delivery methods has certainly stressed many long-held partnerships between traditional hardware, software and service vendors. The model of solution creation, distribution, installation and support was one that had multiple participants in the traditional model but became more focused on the cloud provider in the transition to cloud. Cloud is also an opportunity for new or nascent vendors to take share in markets such as business applications, where SAP and Oracle have been dominant. SaaS vendors fill portfolio gaps and augment vendor offerings for verticalized use cases, enabling legacy players such as Microsoft and SAP to adapt and compete with born-on-the-cloud providers. An example of this shift in vendor landscapes comes with the release of Dynamics 365 Business Central, which will help Microsoft gain footing over SAP in the SMB space for business applications and provide new opportunity for Microsoft’s SaaS partners. However, as each vendor expands its cloud portfolio, its respective ecosystem will be required to adapt. SAP’s acquisition of CallidusCloud will improve the vendor’s position in the cloud front-office space, but it also places SAP in direct competition with its ecosystem of Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) providers. Now more than ever, the market will see vendor shares susceptible to ongoing changes as the market for core business applications remains relatively immature for cloud.

Hardware and services partners were previously hard hit in the transition to cloud but will have more opportunities with a growing mix of public and private cloud options becoming available. Microsoft will continue to leverage hardware and services partners to deliver and implement its hosted private cloud, Azure Stack, which has already doubled its geographical reach in recent months. This new opportunity for longstanding hardware partners such as Dell EMC and Hewlett Packard Enterprise to collaborate in delivering Microsoft’s Azure Stack offering does little to offset the erosion those vendors have seen as Microsoft built out its own Azure public cloud offerings, reducing customer demand for hardware.

Note: TBR provides extensive, sustained coverage of the strategies and select performance metrics of all the vendors mentioned above, as well as their competitors and key technology partners. Contact the authors for additional details.

By Allan Krans, Practice Manager and Principal Analyst; Cassandra Mooshian, Senior Analyst; Meaghan McGrath, Senior Analyst; and Jack McElwee, Research Analyst