Thoughts on SAP, Endeca and the Retail Marketplace (why not EMC?)

I commented some weeks ago on the possible role that EMC, Oracle and SAP might play in the search vendor acquisition game currently playing out. The question on the table in the thread was whether or not Autonomy would remain autonomous. Now we learn that SAP and Intel have invested a total of $15 million in search vendor Endeca. The deal doesn’t suggest that they are looking to buy a search engine to replace Trex but rather enhance the specialized search capabilities. This ultimately may say something about their strategy for a particular vertical market.

Endeca has been very successful in the latest generation of eCommerce sites. As various brick and mortar shops like my former employer began replacing their Y2K era site infrastructure, Endeca was right there time and again providing a flexible, scalable and data friendly search and navigation engine. This has given them a position in a vertical that is much coveted by the big ERP’s. Retail.

SAP has been more aggressive in this area but the retail market is a tough nut to crack. Just ask Oracle. It’s old news but a large part of Oracle’s years long buying spree included a set of solutions selected to create a portfolio of retail software. Commerce 360,ProfitLogic and Retek were all part of the collection. For Oracle its interesting to notice the relative scarcity of search related acquisitions. The last one I could find was TripleHop in 2005. With SAP making a move, albeit a small one, it would hardly be surprising to see Oracle respond.

A tangent – while looking into this point I looked back at the the CMS Watch Search Report Vendor List. Their site and reports are generally a good resource for this kind of information. They classify vendors as Platform, Infrastructure, Specialized, Turn-Key and Basic and notably Autonomy and FAST were the only platform vendors listed last year. (and then there was one) Infrastructure search vendors include just who you would expect. Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, and IBM. Sometimes these lists are more interesting when you consider who isn’t on them. Notice anybody missing? How long will EMC be able to resist buying into this technology and acknowledge the importance of a search platform in Information Life Cycle Management. (ECIS doesn’t count)

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