Owning the end-to-end customer experience

In the words of TIBCO’s Senior VP in EMEA and APJ, Erich Gerber, TIBCO automated Wall Street 20 years ago. This was possible because of quick messaging that enabled the trading communities to make timely market recommendations.

He said, “Back then, we came up with the notion of the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), and the trading communities saw value in quick messaging, so they could come up with quick decisions.”

A typical scenario would be one of the head trader with 25 screens on their desks because their apps were running on separate screens. What TIBCO did was streamline all the relevant information into one screen for quick and easy reference and decision-making.

“And this was an integration kind of scenario where you had to have one system talking to many others, and also build an adaptor so they could all understand each other,” Erich reminisced.

TIBCO became very good at enabling all of  this.

But, this started to become a challenge in this part of the world, because TIBCO became too well known for integration and only integration.

In fact one of the reasons Erich was uprooted from headquarters in Palo Alto to helm this region, was to re-introduce customers again to the adjacent capabilities TIBCO had built as a result of their trial by fire on Wall Street.

Expanding Expertise

When you think about it, what TIBCO had done all those years back was help organisations  access all the data being generated in real-time, which is already a very complex task especially in a complicated environment like trading.

Their experience at being able to deliver results in one of the most rigorous and time-sensitive environment there is, puts TIBCO in good stead to address a current trend for gaining insights from data and leveraging these insights to disrupt the industry, in big or incremental ways.

It’s either that, or be disrupted.

“Fifteen years ago, we thought that was a complex task, to have an SAP system talk to a Siebel system. Now when you think of the master class we are dealing with today – all sorts of systems are talking to each other in an organisation – and there are hundreds of (these systems).

“Middleware, integration and the ESB – that’s what our community of install base knows us for,” Erich said, adding, “That is the integration play that we are really the gold standard in. It’s really important to do something about it, so we have streaming analytics, which is where the needle moves a lot more for an organisation.

“And that is what we really have to do, next.”


Ultimately, it is about helping businesses be smarter about using data once they have it, to operate more efficiently, or enhance their customers’ experiences among other things.

‘We help them see data from a single screen, make meaningful sense of it, to predicting what is likely going to happen next, and how to go about it.”

After three years of being in this part of the world, Erich observed, “Customers are aware they have a problem. Basically, they didn’t know what they didn’t know before and they didn’t know how to go about it.”

However, there is also a part of the market that knows there is a way to resolve the problem. A part of it boils down to data analytics, how to best go about it, and how to use the technology.

Technology is only one factor, you need talent to also support you. And you need an ecosystem to kind of grow it into what it needs to be, Erich had said.

Part of how TIBCO is addressing the talent portion is via collaborations with institutes of higher learning.

There are about four collaborations to date, and the most recent one with Nanyang Polytechnic, is a progression which began with the polytechnic’s business management school first and has expanded to their IT school.

“It’s a collaboration where you feel technology is appreciated. And (exposing students to our technologies) will be good for TIBCO, when the students go out to the job market as entrepreneurs and employees.”

Meeting the new master class demand

Erich shared, when you go to a market like Asia, one begins to realise there are so many opportunities that are also temptations.

“Everybody says we should do this, or that, or go to this market, or that market.

“At the end of the day, you have to focus on the battles that you can win with the troops that you have.”

Having an infrastrucutre portfolio (integration, middleware, ESB) to build upon gave TIBCO an advantageous position to be meaningful to their customers, Erich opined.

“The portfolio was already there at that time, but I feel it is stronger today with all the additions we have done in last 3 years in the unified data management area.”

There was always a destination that TIBCO was heading towards, and this together with feedback from their customers, guided their direction over the years.

“We always had a direction to follow. We knew where the white spaces were, and we knew where we were going to work at although knowing where we would end up acquiring was premature at the time.

“But, we had this vision of connected intelligence, of being the gold standard at integration, and we always wanted to be smarter about using data, which is our Augment Data  portfolio of products.”

With the latest acquisition of Orchestra and its master data management capability, as well as data virtualisation (by Cisco), TIBCO has begun building out their Unify Data portfolio. Unifying data, is the third piece in their whole Connected Intelligence story.

Erich explained that is not about how we use data, but how the data is put into the right structure and format, so they may be reused by more than one party. This aligns well with  open data initiatives that governments like Singapore and Malaysia have.

Relevant data for say, to predict the next dengue outbreak could come from multiple sources ie. Governmental agencies.

What TIBCO’s Unify portfolio can do is ready and prep all of that data for third-party application developers to come and access via APIs.

It is simple and convenient and applications that leverage the data, can be quickly built and be made useful to communities.

It’s a little like Wall Street and the head trader looking at over 20 screens, all over again.

Unifying data

Not only governments see the value of data.

Erich shared about speaking with the CEO of Changi airport, a trend is mentioned.

“During the chat, the thought is that the main challenge lies in keeping up the operations of the airport.

“That was not the case,” Erich shared.

What transpired instead was a huge interest in only the end-to-end experience of the customer who goes through the airport.

“They want to own the whole experience, which is the same objective as the travel agency that customers book their journey with. Travel agents will offer the hotels and rental cars and shopping promos.

“And the airline carrier that transports this customer, also wants to do the same.”

So it boils down to how these organisations are using technology and all that data at their disposal, to get into an advantageous position in that ecosystem… everyone is talking and networking with each other and trying to offer services.

‘Everyone tries to be the owner of the platform at the end of the day,” Erich pointed out, giving the example of Grab that has APIs for providers of food and banking services, to be able to offer seamless experiences to customers.

“And that’s why organisations realise they have to reinvent themselves. Because they realise their traditional portfolio is not going to be as meaningful in the future, as it was in the past,” Erich concluded.