Tibco Software: Message Moguls
Tibco Software found early success with securities trading firms, selling messaging software that could shuttle high volumes of data among multiple systems. Years later, customers in various industries are getting the message—and finding results.
In 2001, when Harrah's Entertain-ment acquired Harveys Lake Tahoe, a competing casino in Stateline, Nev., chief information officer Tim Stanley and his team launched a project to identify and update new customer accounts in real time.
The key, Stanley says, was finding software that would feed customer details into a data warehouse that holds records on Harrah's Total Rewards members, who pay for different casino activities with a swipe card. Tibco stood out, Stanley says, based on its history with financial services firms—which Stanley considered similar to casino operators in terms of collecting customer records—and on referrals of Tibco customers.
Stitching together the casinos' systems and having the "stuff talk to each other" was a top challenge, and Stanley says Tibco's messaging architecture was best suited to tackle it.
According to Stanley, Harrah's saw payback on the approximately $1.5 million project after 45 days by pulling more users into the rewards program and eliminating duplicate accounts in different cities. And Stanley says Tibco's support teams haven't let him down. "They're pretty hands-on, up to [CEO Vivek Ranadive]," he says. "You have that level of connection with them that you don't typically get" with other information-technology vendors.
Praveen Sharabu, director of enterprise architecture and infrastructure for Con-way, a San Mateo, Calif.-based trucking company, caught the service-oriented architecture (SOA) bug a few years before the firm launched a project in 2002 to improve recovery of outstanding payments. SOA, a fast-growing form of business integration, ties together disparate applications within a company's computing infrastructure to improve business processes. Con-way went with Tibco over competitors webMethods and SeeBeyond, which Sun Microsystems acquired in June 2005, because of Tibco's enterprise service bus component, a messaging engine within the SOA. "That architecture was something that fit well," he says.
Thanks to the new messaging platform, the company can more easily meet its legal obligation to submit cargo weights, since Con-way's forklifts are fitted with wireless scales that can instantly beam out the measurement to regulators.
Union Pacific went with Tibco's integration software in 2002 to provide real-time pricing for its customers. Businesses that ship freight across the country often must rely on multiple couriers, since many cover only a certain region. So, it's essential, says Union Pacific senior systems engineer Doug Stock, that customers and partners are able to see complete pricing from one stop to the next.
While Stock would not disclose specific performance metrics from the Tibco project, which let Union Pacific transmit prices to its customers' enterprise resource planning systems, he says the price-sharing mechanism is still in place and has been extended to communicate with other railroads.
Nevertheless, while Stock deemed the Tibco project a success, he says competitors like IBM may have a better offering for enterprisewide Web services integration projects. Tibco, for its part, says most of its customers rely on the company's tool for enterprisewide deployments.
Stock says it comes down to the best tools for a particular project: "We're constantly asking ourselves if it's the best technology or if there are other ways to do it."
* Fiscal year ends Nov. 30; YTD represents three months ended March 5, 2006.