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SAP acquired Gigya - why and what is the bigger picture?

Maarten Stultjens
November 9, 2017 at 3:23 PM

On November 1st, SAP completed the acquisition of Gigya, one of our peers in the Consumer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) market. I am regularly asked for my take on this significant event for the market. Here are some thoughts...

Pure play CIAM vendors

The number of pure play CIAM vendors is rather small. Gigya and Janrain have initiated this market from their marketing backgrounds (i.e. attracting and converting website visitors to registered accounts) some 10 years ago and built their businesses mainly from the US. iWelcome joined this category a little later from European soil and with a solid background in enterprise identity and security. With a similar background, but as a on-premise solution rather than a cloud service, ForgeRock can also be classified this way.

CIAM has become a key element for building frictionless customer journeys over various consumer services across hybrid channels; think of home grown insurance systems with websites and mobile apps, eCommerce services, marketing tools like Marketo, Adobe or SalesForce or Customer Care systems. Hence, enterprises across the world are investing in CIAM technology and the analysts of Gartner and KuppingerCole have reported regularly about this emerging and exciting market where aforementioned vendors are considered Product leaders. This makes this acquisition of Gigya by SAP a ‘big deal’ for the space.

Generic platform vendors

Main generic platform vendors with consumer facing services (e.g. SalesForce, Microsoft Azure, Adobe and IBM) have shown increased interest in CIAM over the past few years. These platforms are very often not integrated, but built from acquisitions or disparate own developments. With their identity offerings as the glue for integrating the various platform components, they now deliver CIAM for their platforms as well.

SAP obviously came to the same conclusion and acquired US headquartered Gigya for a faster time-to-market and better control over an SAP focused roadmap. In a US acquisition and IPO hungry world, we have seen these acquisitions of specialist companies many times before.

Why SAP and Gigya acquisition happened now?

With GDPR, CIAM is not only required for delivering frictionless customer journeys, it is also key for providing the legally required controls of their customer data with clear communication requirements on data retention, purposes of use and privacy by default. This is nowadays referred to as ‘Consent Lifecycle Management’. Janrain, Gigya and ForgeRock have invested in providing GDPR capabilities. iWelcome, being the only EU vendor in this category, has paved the way by rebuilding its platform from the ground up for unparalleled GDPR support. GDPR support obviously is a requirement for SAP’s Hybris eCommerce customers and probably influenced the timing for this acquisition.

What's next for SAP and Gigya?

Without a doubt, Gigya will be integrated in SAP Hybris. It will be integrated in the standards for development, documentation, partner network, commercial models, as well as in marketing and sales practices. SAP partners will start integrating Gigya in larger engagements. This will put a tremendous burden on the relatively limited number of Gigya employees. For customers, it will not lead to a lower Cost of Ownership and will definitely lead to a less agile product. In the long run, it will probably be a good move for SAP customers. Gigya partners could well get lost in the wash. Hopefully we will see Gigya back in the market as an independent product, but this is not what we usually see.

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