Pega buys Antenna

Scott Francis
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Pega just announced the purchase of Antenna, a mobile application development shop:

With Antenna, Pegasystems adds a leader in the Gartner 2013 Magic Quadrant for Mobile Applications Development Platforms1 to its existing Magic Quadrant leadership in BPM and CRM to deliver better business software to any channel. Key benefits of this combination include:

  • Faster time-to-market and increased flexibility in end-to-end mobile application development
  • Powerful mobile application and device management
  • Mobile Backend-as-a-Service coupled with industry-leading BPM, case management, and advanced decisioning
  • Proven expertise of two industry leaders in delivering enterprise solutions to a global clientele
  • Powerful model-driven design to complement native mobile development and responsive UIs to “design-once and deploy everywhere”

Research from IDC shows that by 2015, there will be 1.3 billion people in the mobile workforce. To serve today’s mobile users, applications must be prepared for multiple mobile platforms and more than 250 different screen sizes.

The whole thing is interesting to me, because it just isn’t necessary to spend this kind of money to get good mobile UI for your product.  So this isn’t about adding mobile and responsive UI to BPM (in my opinion).  Neil Ward-Dutton weighs in as well:

It’s natural for anyone familiar with the BPM platform technology marketplace to see Pegasystems’ acquisition of Antenna Software as a response to IBM’s acquisition of Worklight (with IBM and Pega being fierce head-to-head competitors). That acquisition was completed in early 2012, and reporting at the time estimated Worklight’s revenues to be in the $5-10m range and the acquisition value to be in the region of $60-70m.

I’m not convinced that this was a direct response to IBM’s move; my sense is that this is more of a general response to the huge uptick in corporate interest in delivering information and transaction services to mobile platforms for employees and customers/prospects alike. With the information I’ve got to hand, this appears to be a smart move, too.

I’m not convinced it is about Worklight either. Worklight struck me as a response to PhoneGap getting acquired by Adobe, and leaving IBM without their favored neutral mobile development platform. Buying Worklight put that to rest, and had enough similarities to not require a big retread on strategy in the mobile space. 

Back to Pega, there’s clearly benefit to their “BPM” platform if they can take advantage of Antenna, and likely Pega can introduce many high value customers to the new mobile development platform. But I question how much customers will continue to pay for mobile development platforms when there are really good ones that are nearly free (admittedly, they’ll still pay for the back-end infrastructure as needed). And then the question is, is it about the platform or about the ability to build great mobile experiences (ie, capability in the employees, rather than in the software) ? I wonder. Based on revenues per employee, it sounds a bit more like a consulting business than a software/platform business.

 

 

  • re: “pay for mobile development platforms when there are really good ones that are nearly free”

    Would be curious to hear you rattle off a few of your favorite free ones.

    • there’s a pretty good list here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_application_development that also includes commercial items, e.g. worklight. It also includes some defunct stuff that is a bit pointless. But even it doesn’t list things like bootstrap, angular, node, etc. that are all great tools to do mobile development with. or the google-provided android tools, or the apple-supplied XCode ($100?) … development platforms just aren’t *that* expensive.

      Now, there are other areas – device and security management- that i would go to other platforms for. But at its heart, platforms like worklight and antenna just wrap other projects’ development ideas (phonegap, sencha, bootstrap, etc.) for client code, and then allow you to do things like run javascript on the server (hm, this sounds familiar… rhino/lombardi anyone?), or some other scripting language on the server, interfacing with more “enterprise” java code.

      In fact, BP3’s own Brazos toolkit (http://www.bp-3.com/brazos) works brilliantly with Worklight. Just further proof that it is a great wrapper around other people’s UI frameworks or UIs.

      I am likely to be proven wrong, but I think the end-state is that things like antenna and worklight end up being features (must-have features) of the platform rather than separate SKUs. A bit like an http server. Necessary but just table stakes for the game.

  • brutal article. didn’t realize it was a “bargain acquisition”… pretty expensive bargain, honestly.