Looking back at a press release from 2002 it’s clear to see how much the retail software market has consolidated.
The press release concerned department store chain Allders buying a business intelligence system. Now the vendor in question, Business Objects, is due to be acquired by SAP; while the Retek applications that were to feed data for analysis are owned by Oracle.
In the past, retailers have voiced their concerns to Retail Week about the pace of consolidation in the software market, both in the UK and on an international level. So should this latest development also provide cause for concern?
Both vendors are positioning themselves as end-to-end solution providers within the retail segment – SAP with its SAP for Retail portfolio and Oracle with its Oracle Retail portfolio. Certainly some large retailers already believe that the market is now down to a two horse race.
There are clear benefits to be had from investing in a portfolio of systems from one vendor – not least that you reduce integration complexity and the costs of dealing with multiple suppliers. But retail is a fast-moving business, so if you put all your money on one horse then you must either be very brave, or very sure it’s the winner.
As such, SAP’s assertion that it will continue to run Business Objects as a standalone business is important. It says that Business Objects’ customers will continue to be able to invest in its business intelligence portfolio irrespective of their choice of databases or business applications.
So for the moment it seems that an each way bet is still on offer.