Supply Chain Matters provides an additional update regarding our commentary related to this year’s SAP Sapphire customer conference, one that is candidly disappointing.

SAP Ariba and IBM jointly announced a new joint partnership that essentially states that IBM is sun-setting its prior procurement technology presence in the form of Emptoris.  The announcement indicates that both organizations will work to bring new and existing IBM customers, including those using IBM Emptoris applications, to the SAP Ariba platform.

IBM acquired Emptoris in 2011 after this provider had achieved a noteworthy track regard in the procurement applications technology market, provide a decent amount of technology innovation and at-times, a keen direct competitor to Ariba before it was acquired by SAP.  With this new announcement, IBM is now declaring a strategic decision that it is better to partner with SAP than to continue its own presence in this area.

We purposely elected the word disappointing because this is yet another throwing in the towel of a previous set of acquisitions that IBM made to make-up the termed ‘Smarter Commerce” suite of commerce and supply-chain-wide technology support. The prior acquisition of supply chain optimization and business rules provider ILOG in 2009, included supply chain network design software provider LogicTools.  The latter was subsequently sold to supply chain technology provider LLamasoft in 2015, which has since integrated network design technology into the Supply Chain Guru suite.

Now, IBM has apparently elected to leverage its Watson Supply Chain capabilities into other platforms.

The obvious impact is on existing Emptoris customers, whom either lobbied for this change, or were surprised by the announcement.  An open question is of-course, ongoing support, as well as conversion costs to on-board to an entirely new platform. We will reserve judgement on these aspects pending more definitive information.

In the meantime, Supply Chain Matters shares the sentiment of Spend Matters in its recent tribute to Emptoris, and in all that this vendor stood for in market innovation, customer care and of-course, the people who made Emptoris what it was as an independent entity.

The technology world provides many success stories, and then again some disappointments.  The success story of Emptoris is the past legacy of an insightful and innovative tech provider that is no longer.

Bob Ferrari

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