On The M&A Radar: BI Software

So said IT consultancy Robert Frances Group in a briefing about software industry consolidation.

John Van Decker, RFG vice president and research fellow, said IT organizations in general should be looking at acquisitions like Oracle’s $5.85 billion purchase of Siebel as a sign of more to come.

“We’re seeing Microsoft get into the business intelligence space and I think that’s going to put a lot of pressure on BI vendors to start looking for White Knights (to buy them). There’s going to be continuing competitive pressure on enterprise application vendors.”

RFG predicts that by 2007, only four main ERP vendors will remain: SAP, Oracle, SSA and Microsoft. The result will be fewer choices for users, though the competition among the remaining vendors for customers will be more intense. Also, RFG believes more industry-specific vertical applications will emerge.

“This is what happens in mature markets, there is less choice for customers,” said Van Decker.

In the case of Oracle, Van Decker said existing customers have to speak up to make sure the database giant lives up to its promise of supporting the product lines it’s acquired or acquiring from Siebel, Peoplesoft and J.D. Edwards. “Over time customers can get screwed unless they voice their concerns,” said Van Decker.

Oracle has said repeatedly it plans to continue development of Peoplesoft applications and offer lifetime support of its products. But Van Decker expects Oracle to spend more resources advancing development of its own software, giving customers little choice over time but to migrate to Oracle or elsewhere for advanced features.

“If you want the latest stuff it’s going to be on Oracle’s Project Fusion,” said Van Decker.

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