Integrated or Connected?

Exploring the consolidation that happened, and needs to happen, in HCM software

Integrated vs. ConnectedIntegrated or connected, what is the difference?

In the world of enterprise software, the term “integrated” is used liberally to describe systems that “connect” and pass data to each other. But the word integrated suggests these systems are actually woven together, which is rarely the case. At Bulger Partners, we debate these nuances frequently, and most of what we see in software today are connections, not integrations.

Every software sector has experienced, and continues to experience, some level of consolidation. Often, as we’ll discuss below, the consolidation is driven by the desire or need to expand product capabilities and deliver additional solutions to customers. Every organization evaluates build versus buy strategies, and often there are compelling reasons to acquire an existing platform rather than build it from scratch.

An interesting case study can be found in the Human Capital Management (HCM) industry, where rapid and increasingly expensive consolidation occurred between 2005 and 2012. While this consolidation created connectivity between offerings and has no doubt improved the offerings of the HCM industry, new demands from vendors will require enterprise software companies to take the next step towards true integration.

(more…)

Live and Die by the Force

The Truth About Value Creation and Exit Potential for Vendors within the Salesforce Ecosystem

Earlier this month, I was in San Francisco for Dreamforce, Salesforce.com’s annual mega-conference. In the weeks surrounding this event, a frequent topic of conversation with VC and PE investors had been this:  Are companies limiting their value creation and exit opportunities by dedicating themselves to the Salesforce ecosystem or building on the Force.com platform?

The allure of partnering with Salesforce is understandable given the rock star status it has achieved. Having more than 100,000 customers and millions of end-users makes them an awfully attractive partner. This year’s Dreamforce attendance surpassed 140,000 people – hotel rooms were sold out from Napa to San Jose. There is no questioning their momentum, especially as the company continues to bring new, innovative products to market via an active acquisition effort and organically grown solutions. However, this is precisely why emerging vendors should be cautious. The impact on value creation and exit opportunities can be significant if Salesforce ultimately aligns with a competing solution.

(more…)