IBM and SAP Ariba Partnership Announced, Emptoris Product “Sunsetted”

Rumours have been swirling around for a few weeks now. We wrote here about IBM Emptoris and stories of its demise or sale. But yesterday the real news (not fake news) broke and it is probably more interesting than the speculation suggested.

SAP Ariba and IBM Emptoris announced this morning at the SAP Sapphire 2017 conference that they are creating a strategic partnership. The deal represents a significant commitment by both organizations that spans applications, cognitive collaboration (SAP Leonardo and IBM Watson) and professional services. The combination of efforts is not, however, an acquisition of IBM Emptoris by SAP Ariba, which was one of the previous rumours.

Our colleague and Spend Matters US founder Jason Busch was on the spot and spoke to Alex Atzberger, president of SAP Ariba, and Michael O’Leary, director of procurement solutions and supply chain insights at IBM Watson Customer Engagement, to learn more about the partnership. His excellent article is here and is well worth reading.

The headline is probably that the Emptoris product is being “sunsetted” (discontinued in effect) but support for Cloud customers will continue till 2020 and for on premise for 5 years from the date of the customer’s most recent agreement.  IBM Emptoris customers, including those with IBM Enterprise Licensing Agreements (ELAs) will be given the opportunity to transition over to SAP Ariba products. No money changed hands as part of the arrangement, and no staff will transfer.

Another component of the partnership involves a deeper relationship between IBM’s professional services arms and SAP Ariba, but we will get into this in more detail no doubt shortly; there will be joint development efforts too. But, as Jason says in his article, IBM seems to be doing “the decent thing” by their customers.

“… our initial analysis of the transaction suggests that IBM appears to have taken a high road with Emptoris customers across several areas regarding the future of its procurement applications with this partnership (vs. an outright sale of the assets). This includes the multiyear support horizon for current IBM Emptoris solutions as part of the sunsetting of the products and continued direct relationship with IBM, which should provide an ample window for procurement organizations to fully consider and develop a formalized transition plan.   IBM Emptoris customers, including those with IBM Enterprise Licensing Agreements (ELAs) will be given the opportunity to transition over to SAP Ariba products”.

IBM customers should of course also take the opportunity to consider other products and no doubt will. Emptoris still has a fairly extensive customer base in Europe – the firm was strong in the UK public sector for instance. So interesting times ahead, and we will have more analysis on the deal shortly.

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