Open Pages: A Key Strategic Pickup for IBM
By Larry Walsh
IBM’s acquisition of Open Pages gives the company a spearhead for its business analytics strategy – an important focus of growth at IBM. Faced with global competitors EMC and SAP, IBM had no strong message in Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) prior to the Open Pages Deal. Now, the competitive GRC landscape should prove quite vital with three giant competitors – and that’s good for customers.
Like all companies selling GRC software, Open Pages has benefited greatly from the US regulatory push, highlighted by Sarbanes-Oxley, that emerged in the wake of the irrational exuberance of the dot-com bubble of 1999-2001 and the Enron accounting scandal.
While just a few years ago, there was talk of scuttling Sarbox as too onerous and ineffectual, more recent events such as the Bernard Madoff investment scam, subprime mortgages and the Wall Street meltdown of 2008 have made cutbacks in regulation less likely and have indeed led to more regulation. In addition, the expanding role of the federal government in healthcare suggests there will be ever more regulation in that arena. However, risk management encompasses not only business risk but the risk of natural disasters. And five years later, the memory of Katrina has yet to fade as companies map business continuity and disaster recovery strategies.
It’s in this context that the GRC market is expected to grow from $9 billion now to $16 billion in 2015, according to Peter Griffiths, IBM vice-president of business analytics.
So, what can we expect from Open Pages as a member of the IBM family? We can expect that IBM will take Open Pages, a strong US player, and give it a global reach thanks to IBM’s activity in nearly every worldwide market. And we can expect that under the banner of business analytics, Open Pages will complement prior IBM acquisition Cognos.
Michael Rasmussen, analyst at Corporate Integrity, a consultancy specializing in GRC, was upbeat about the acquisition, explaining that it fills a gap in IBM’s product line.
“Open Pages will continue to be a standalone product. There definitely seems to be some strategy for integration, tying in with Cognos business strategy and business intelligence,” Rasmussen said.
The move by IBM was necessary for competitive reasons, after Open Pages competitor Archer Technologies was acquired by storage giant EMC earlier this year. Its products are now sold under the banner of RSA Archer eGRC. That acquisition gave Archer an international reach it did not have before, and Rasmussen predicted the same benefit will be gained by Open Pages under IBM’s global umbrella.
Indeed, multinational companies must comply with a different regulatory environment in every country in which they operate. It stands to reason that having a single platform for GRC that can be adapted to each country is a big plus.
Elsewhere in the competitive landscape, Rasmussen noted, there is global giant SAP, which formed a GRC alliance with Computer Associates earlier in 2010 to focus on IT-related GRC while SAP would carry the ball for business-related GRC.
IBM’s Griffiths praised Open Pages’ architecture as a platform for bringing together credit, operational and financial risk information across an enterprise. “You can bring together data once and use it many times. We see Open Pages as a core asset in GRC solutions,” he said, adding, “IBM is building a significant business in business analytics – this is an important next step in a series of acquisitions.”
“With Open Pages, the goal is to apply the global reach of IBM,” said Griffiths, pointing to 6000 IBMers worldwide already focused on integrated risk solutions. He added that Open Pages has marketed its products cooperatively with Cognos for some time, so the two vendors are no strangers to each other. “Our mission is to build out these solutions. We’re looking to Open Pages as the center of our GRC strategy,” said Griffiths.
As for Open Pages, Rasmussen said, the move is a good one. “I’m optimistic that Open Pages future looks brighter than in the past — and it was strong in the past.”