In recent years the B2B market segment has been fairly active — see Update on The B2B Frenzy and IBM Acquires Sterling Commerce — And Ups the Ante on B2B. Activity tends to occur in waves, and the last few months have been very active:
- Liaison Acquired Hubspan — this week. Anyone following this provider closely knows that it has consistently acquired one or two providers a year for about ten years now to incrementally expand market-share, customers and technology. This acquisition (like many others) was symbiotic — both providers focus on large B2B projects, often involving customization, and of late had increasing focused on cloud integration. I’ve previously noted both provider’s focus on cloud-related B2B projects (see Who’s Who in Cloud Services Brokerage), thus I interpret Liaison’s move here as doubling-down on cloud.
- E2open IPO — on NASDAQ about a month ago. While its stock performance so far has been lackluster, raising capital does improve E2open’s ability to pursue market-share growth and to expand its vertical industries and international footprint. E2open’s is the 2nd B2B IPO in as many years (see SPS Commerce, below), and I see it as an expression of confidence, finally exposing its business and differentiated B2B value-proposition (see Oracle and E2open Deploy BPN to Simplify B2B for Global Transport Processes) to the pubic after years of operating somewhat under the radar.
- SPS Acquired Edifice — This acquisition in May strengthened SPS Commerce’s B2B offerings in Retail via the addition of POS analytics to its existing POS Data Service. While not a high-impact acquisition, per se, it is consistent with SPS Commerce’ long-established focus on Retail, incrementally grows SPS Commerce’s SaaS portfolio, and effectively utilizes capital raised in its 2010 IPO (see SPS Commerce Will Wield Its IPO Like a Sword, But Not Lethally, in the Battle for B2B). Like Eopen, SPS Commerce IPO’d specifically for capital to more aggressively pursue market-share, et al.
- SAP Acquired Ariba — SAP announced this in May (soon to close). It provocatively follows its September 2011 acquisition of Crossgate (see The SAP Acquisition of Crossgate Has the Potential to Rock B2B Markets), giving SAP now not just one but two distinct yet somewhat overlapping B2B networks. By doubling-down its clear that SAP sees “APP” + “B2B” as an important business process network value-proposition — and it has already tightly integrated Crossgate into relevant application modules. But we still have yet to see how it will reconcile its two new B2B networks.
Collectively, these activities represent decisive B2B claim stakes — on innovation, market-share, cloud, multienterprise processes, etc. We’ll be publishing detailed analysis on these events, soon. In the meantime, buckle your seat-belts and hold-on — from all the interest I see from our clients its pretty clear that B2B is hot and will continue to be fun to watch.