Agile Computing Authors: Jim Kaskade, Lori MacVittie, Carmen Gonzalez, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White

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 an opinionated Senior Analyst at Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work, SAP Mentor Alumnus, speaker, writer, and mobile and digital strategies expert. He is a popular keynote speaker, and in the past three years he has shared his insights into mobile and digital strategies with companies in 17 different countries. He has over 30 years of experience working with enterprise applications, and he is a veteran mobile industry executive. He wrote the Forward to SAP Press' bestselling book on enterprise mobility titled Mobilizing Your Enterprise with SAP, and he has written over 3,000 articles.

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
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential Internet of Things Brand by Onalytica in the ‘The Internet of Things Landscape 2015: Top 100 Individuals and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed Twitter conversations around the #IoT debate to uncover the most influential brands and individuals driving the conversation. Onalytica captured data from 56,224 users. The PageRank based methodology they use to extract influencers on a particular topic (tweets mentioning #InternetofThings or #IoT in this ...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the...
In the next forty months – just over three years – businesses will undergo extraordinary changes. The exponential growth of digitization and machine learning will see a step function change in how businesses create value, satisfy customers, and outperform their competition. In the next forty months companies will take the actions that will see them get to the next level of the game called Capitalism. Or they won’t – game over. The winners of today and tomorrow think differently, follow different...
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and ...
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
Virgil consists of an open-source encryption library, which implements Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS) and Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES) (including RSA schema), a Key Management API, and a cloud-based Key Management Service (Virgil Keys). The Virgil Keys Service consists of a public key service and a private key escrow service. 

The Internet of Things (IoT), in all its myriad manifestations, has great potential. Much of that potential comes from the evolving data management and analytic (DMA) technologies and processes that allow us to gain insight from all of the IoT data that can be generated and gathered. This potential may never be met as those data sets are tied to specific industry verticals and single markets, with no clear way to use IoT data and sensor analytics to fulfill the hype being given the IoT today.
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
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, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to impr...
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their backend AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT - especially in the connected home and office. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Kocher, founder and managing director of Grey Heron, explained how Amazon is extending its reach to become a major force in IoT by building on its dominant cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strat...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
One of biggest questions about Big Data is “How do we harness all that information for business use quickly and effectively?” Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or spatial technology is about more than making maps, but adding critical context and meaning to data of all types, coming from all different channels – even sensors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, William (Bill) Meehan, director of utility solutions for Esri, will take a closer look at the current state of spatial technology and ar...
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue an...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
SYS-CON Events announced today that Streamlyzer will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Streamlyzer is a powerful analytics for video streaming service that enables video streaming providers to monitor and analyze QoE (Quality-of-Experience) from end-user devices in real time.