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Tibco eyes growth in emerging APAC markets

Tibco’s regional head honcho, Erich Gerber, sees massive potential in Asia’s large population and thirst for technology, including advanced analytics tools that will help businesses glean actionable insights

As one of the earliest suppliers of enterprise messaging and business intelligence software, Tibco has seen the ebb and flow of the enterprise software industry. Not only did it survive the dotcom bust, but the company continues to thrive by augmenting its platforms with new capabilities.

In June 2020, the company infused its analytics platform with augmented intelligence capabilities through an integration with Microsoft’s Azure Cognitive Services.

Taking things further, it recently announced a disruptive approach that enables enterprises to build analytics applications that combine visual analytics with data science and real-time data-streaming capabilities.

In an interview with Computer Weekly, Erich Gerber, Tibco’s senior vice-president for Asia-Pacific (APAC), as well as Europe, the Middle East and Africa, shares the company’s thinking around cloud and advanced analytics, and how it is navigating the APAC market.

How is Tibco doing amid the pandemic, particularly in the APAC region?

Gerber: First, we’re lucky enough to be a vertical solution provider rather than a horizontal provider to heavily affected industries such as aviation and tourism. There are obviously parts of the market where we’ve seen increased demand, such as telecommunications, logistics and government.

If you look at what we’re doing in the three pillars of our business – connect, unify and predict – the first two are doing well, particularly as more enterprises see the need to unify and manage data. The predict side is where you would expect new initiatives and innovation, but we’re seeing a bit of a reluctance on that front among companies that are more conservative.

In Asia-Pacific, travel restrictions have given a different spin on how markets are behaving. I see more constraints in Asia than in Europe and North America, though things are still relatively OK because we have existing engagements that are coming to fruition. But we don’t know how things will shape up in Asia in our new financial year if restrictions are not eased.

Tibco has been partnering cloud providers to make its capabilities available to companies that are moving to the cloud, particularly in Asia. Do you see that as a way to capture a bigger slice of the APAC market?

Gerber: Yeah, there are two things happening here. One is the trend to host almost all services in the cloud. It’s interesting that when we talk to some executives of large organisations, some of them might tell you that’s not a priority, but when we talk to them three months later, they say they’re in the middle of moving to the cloud.

That said, some markets, like South Korea, have been reluctant to move to cloud. I still haven’t figured out why because they are usually very innovative if you look at areas like cashless payments. In Southeast Asia, there are markets that are still trailing behind in cloud adoption, but that will change, with Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud making big strides into a market like Indonesia.

All of that has a big impact on how we position our offerings. In the past, if you wanted to leverage Tibco’s technology and solutions, you had to factor in a sizable upfront commitment. That was no longer the case when we started to offer subscription services three to four years ago. It allows companies to start small and invest more as they grow.

Some subscriptions are for on-premise software, while others are related to services in the cloud. So, we’re partnering with major cloud providers to make sure the market understands what we’re doing. Some partnerships, like the one we have with Google Cloud, are strategic when it comes to markets like Indonesia.

What about markets like Vietnam and Cambodia, where the global cloud providers may not have established a direct presence or infrastructure even though demand for cloud is growing?

Gerber: That’s a good point you’re raising. For the top three cloud providers, I think their approach to all of this is to build their own data lines into some of these markets, so they are not dependent on any local telco. And that is obviously a prerequisite for them to enter a market like Vietnam.

I must say we have very few customers in Cambodia. But Vietnam is an important market for us based on the size of its population and their keen adoption of technology. If you look at their rate of smartphone adoption versus the population, it’s more than one to one. The buying power is not the same as that of established markets, but it’s catching up. I am personally invested in Vietnam, because I believe in the future of that market, where we have about 12 enterprise customers.

Most of them have asked us to deliver our services on-premise and we would give the flexibility to all our customers to access our technologies through private cloud, hybrid models and public clouds. But if there are no public clouds that they can trust, that’s going to be difficult.

Tibco is known for constantly augmenting its platforms with new capabilities. Are APAC customers going beyond basics and tapping more advanced analytics capabilities, such as ModelOps?

Gerber: The growth potential in Asia comes from its population and the sheer number of business-to-consumer businesses. If you break that down further into what is really needed for organisations to cater to consumers, then it’s all about advanced analytics.

Remember, what we are doing now used to be called business intelligence, and what that meant was to visualise data once an organisation was able to capture all the data that was somewhere in their ecosystem. But if you look at it, the data is basically telling you what and why something has happened. That doesn’t help you to know your customers better and prove to customers that they should be loyal to you.

So, businesses need actionable insights, more than just understanding what their customers are doing. That’s where advanced analytics comes into play, and that’s why I see massive potential across all the Asian markets, be it Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Japan or South Korea.

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