Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: John Basso, Elizabeth White, AppDynamics Blog, Liz McMillan, Igor Drobiazko

Related Topics: Agile Computing

Agile Computing: Blog Post

IBM to Acquire Mobility Vendor Worklight - An Analysis

I cannot think of many situations where an ERP vendor bought a mobile apps company

IBM has jumped into the MEAP (mobile enterprise application platform) competition with yesterday’s announced intent to acquire MEAP vendor Worklight.   Worklight is headquartered in New York and was founded in 2006 by CEO Shahar Kaminitz.  Worklight's software supports HTML5, hybrid and native applications for smartphones and tablets with industry-standard technologies and tools.   Their solutions include an Eclipse-based software IDE (integrated development environment), mobile middleware, mobile solution management and analytics.

Worklight Studio competes with Appcelerator, Verivo (formerly Pyxis Mobile), Sybase Unwired Platform (SAP), Antenna, Syclo, ClickSoftware, Kony Solutions, Rhomobile (Motorola), Webalo and other mobility vendors that are experiencing rapid growth.

The deal size was not disclosed by IBM or Worklight, but the Israeli website Globes (www.globes.co.il) reported the acquisition to be $50-60 million.  Worklight raised $21 million in investment capital, from investors Genesis Partners, Pitango Venture Capital, Index Ventures, and Shlomo Kramer.  Globe also estimated 2011 revenues for Worklight at between $5-10 million (http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=1000720723).

My analysis is that all ERP vendors need a standardized approach for supporting mobility.  Mobility, and MEAPs in particular, are far too strategic to leave up to partner ecosystems to deliver.  SAP acquired Sybase, IBM will acquire Worklight, and we are all awaiting Oracle’s expected 2012 move to acquire a MEAP vendor.

Interesting note, I cannot think of many situations where an ERP vendor bought a mobile apps company.  I am told that SAP's proposed acquisition of SuccessFactor will involve some mobile apps, but have yet to see them.  ERP vendors seem to want to buy the middleware, so they can standardize integration, syncing, security and management, and leave most apps to their partner ecosystem.

In a recent IBM study of more than 3,000 global CIOs, 75 percent of respondents identified mobility solutions as one of their top spending priorities.  Nearly all of the global analyst and research firms are also reporting enterprise mobility to be a top three priority.  In the Enterprise Mobility Survey 2011 that I conducted in September of 2011, 80% of survey respondents said enterprise mobility was "very important" to "critical" to their company's future success.

IBM officials said with this acquisition, IBM's mobile offerings will span mobile application development, integration, security and management.  Dow Jones Newswire reported on an internal memo from IBM’s senior vice president in charge of middleware software, Robert LeBlanc that highlighted their ambitions, “"Now is the time to make IBM essential in the era of mobile computing."

I had the privilege of interviewing Worklight’s COO Kurt Daniel about 15 months ago and published the interview on this site.  Here are some excerpts that you may find interesting given this week's news.


Worklight has developed a MEAP (mobile enterprise application platform) and a mobile SDK (software development kit), not for their own use, but rather for systems integrators and end customers to use to develop their own enterprise mobility solutions.  They want to be a technology company, not a mobile application company.

Kevin: What are your areas of responsibilities at WorkLight?
Kurt: I look after our worldwide business channels, partnerships, sales and marketing.
Kevin: Tell me about your solutions.
Kurt: We have the WorkLight Studio, WorkLight Server and WorkLight console.  ISVs and OEM partners use these solutions to build their own packaged mobility applications.
Kevin: How do you avoid competing with your partners in the mobility market?
Kurt: We don't sell applications.  We are not experts on ERPS or other backend systems.  We focus on developing the best mobile technology possible, not services or mobile applications.
Kevin: How do you fund your start-up business in the early years without generating revenue from services and mobile applications?
Kurt: We raised over $17 million.  That affords us the opportunity to invest in the technology without losing focus by delivering services and enduser solutions.
Kevin: How do you keep your users loyal to your technology?
Kurt: We provide them with a platform and SDK that supports the latest modern devices.  We provide them with great productivity tools that enable the same code base to be used across multiple devices and mobile operating systems.  We offer trial versions for 60 days.
Kevin: Where do you see mobility going in the next 18-24 months?
Kurt: Enterprises are going to need to support a larger number of mobile devices and mobile operating systems.  They will need to support iPads, tablets of all kinds, Android and many more mobile apps.  Internally, companies will be launching large numbers of their own mobile applications that were developed in-house.
Kevin: Who do you compete with?
Kurt: In-house development teams, Sybase and Antenna.
Kevin: In conclusion, where does your company fit in the enterprise mobility ecosystem?
Kurt: WorkLight is a 100 percent technology focused company.  We develop a horizontal MEAP.

It is fascinating to ponder Worklight's strategy.  They decided to build a new and powerful MEAP, but not to provide services or sell mobile apps to end users.  They chose to use their investment capital to focus exclusively on developing technology and developer support.   That is a rare strategy.  Sybase mostly followed that strategy with their embedded mobile database and synchronization business (iAnywhere and former Extended Systems) and was purchased by SAP, and now Worklight who followed a similar strategy will be acquired by IBM.  What does this tell us?  Perhaps ERP vendors don't want the burden of supporting a large MEAP or mobile app enduser base that does not fit their traditional customer profile.  They would rather just acquire the technology stack?  What do you think?

Most MEAP vendors depend on services and end user app sales to help cover expenses as they develop and mature their solutions and channels.  Worklight refused to follow that path.   It doesn't appear they had yet reached profitability, since it seems they took in another $4 million in investor funding in the past year, but they did accept IBM's offer as their exit strategy.  They committed to focus on the technology, rather than indulge the temptation (and distraction) to grab short term end user sales.

End user mobile app sales are sexy.  They get the press and show well, but ultimately I think the MEAPs themselves are the mobile market consolidation points.  Not just the mobile middleware, but the IDEs.  The integrated development environments that are used to design and develop the apps.  Some mobility vendors like ClickSoftware and Syclo actually support several choices of mobile middleware under their IDEs.  The customers often only see the IDE, but underneath the covers are middleware options.  SAP and the Sybase Unwired Platform also offer numerous choices (SUP, NetWeaver Gateway, Sybase 365, etc.) for middleware in their architecture.

If all the large ERP companies are going to ultimately acquire their own MEAP solution, that means MEAP market fragmentation will be hardened along ERP lines.  If that is the case, would mobility vendors that focus on mobile end user applications find it necessary to support all the major MEAPs if they want to sell into those markets?  That would be expensive!!!  If that is how the market evolves, then it seems cloud based ERP-to-mobile app integration hubs would be worth a consideration.  Mobile app developers would simply connect to one cloud based integration hub that integrates with all the ERPs.  Wow, this line of thinking reminds me of my early days working with EDI/B2B translators and EDI hubs.

It will be interesting to watch the choices companies will make that have a mix of different business solutions and ERPs across their IT landscape.

If I have any bad data or information in this article please correct me!

Please share your thoughts and ideas with us!!!

*************************************************************
Kevin Benedict, Independent Mobile Industry Analyst, Consultant and SAP Mentor Volunteer
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility analyst, consultant and blogger. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is the Senior Analyst for Digital Transformation at Cognizant, a writer, speaker and SAP Mentor Alumnus. Follow him on Twitter @krbenedict. He is a popular speaker around the world on the topic of digital transformation and enterprise mobility. He maintains a busy schedule researching, writing and speaking at events in North America, Asia and Europe. He has over 25 years of experience working in the enterprise IT solutions industry.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
The IoT has the potential to create a renaissance of manufacturing in the US and elsewhere. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Florent Solt, CTO and chief architect of Netvibes, will discuss how the expected exponential increase in the amount of data that will be processed, transported, stored, and accessed means there will be a huge demand for smart technologies to deliver it. Florent Solt is the CTO and chief architect of Netvibes. Prior to joining Netvibes in 2007, he co-founded Rift Technol...
Join IBM June 8 at 18th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn how to innovate like a startup and scale for the enterprise. You need to deliver quality applications faster and cheaper, attract and retain customers with an engaging experience across devices, and seamlessly integrate your enterprise systems. And you can't take 12 months to do it.
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, will discuss how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to im...
This is not a small hotel event. It is also not a big vendor party where politicians and entertainers are more important than real content. This is Cloud Expo, the world's longest-running conference and exhibition focused on Cloud Computing and all that it entails. If you want serious presentations and valuable insight about Cloud Computing for three straight days, then register now for Cloud Expo.
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
IoT device adoption is growing at staggering rates, and with it comes opportunity for developers to meet consumer demand for an ever more connected world. Wireless communication is the key part of the encompassing components of any IoT device. Wireless connectivity enhances the device utility at the expense of ease of use and deployment challenges. Since connectivity is fundamental for IoT device development, engineers must understand how to overcome the hurdles inherent in incorporating multipl...
The paradigm has shifted. A Gartner survey shows that 43% of organizations are using or plan to implement the Internet of Things in 2016. However, not just a handful of companies are still using the old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways, unaware of the critical barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can you become a winner? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan will present a methodical approach to guide the holistic adoption and enablement of IoT implementations. This ov...
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, will explain how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Stratoscale, the software company developing the next generation data center operating system, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Stratoscale is revolutionizing the data center with a zero-to-cloud-in-minutes solution. With Stratoscale’s hardware-agnostic, Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) solution to store everything, run anything and scale everywhere...
Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified – now it's a component-based well-performing framework. This immersive one-day workshop at 18th Cloud Expo, led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay, will provide you with everything you wanted to know about Angular 2.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, will discuss how leveraging the Industrial Interne...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...