Industry watchers were unsurprised by SSA Global's acquisition of struggling CRM specialists Epiphany last week, as the deal had been rumored for some time and the company was known to be seeking a buyer.
What's more interesting about the deal, at least to one market expert, is SSA's overall growth strategy, which has been built around a long series of acquisitions over the last several years. Scott Nelson, analyst with Gartner, said that while SSA hasn't yet gone to great lengths to integrate many of the technologies it has purchased, it is becoming what he calls a "CRM source for the masses" that is winning deals with companies that aren't necessarily interested in attaching themselves to the latest trends in enterprise software.
"(SSA) appeals to a type C organization, or people who aren't looking for leading edge technologies or even mainstream products," Nelson said. "These companies just want a solid solution with a (vendor) behind it that that's going to stay in business and back them up and give them some stability."
Over the years, SSA has pieced together the holdings of a number of firms, like Epiphany, that were one time high-flyers in the enterprise space that lost their momentum at some point. The most notable of those is undoubtedly former ERP giant Baan, the assets of which SSA bought from Invensys in 2003.
According to Nelson, who views SSA primarily as a rival to mid-market players such as Lawson, there's a solid opportunity for companies providing the less glamorous applications to customers. However, the analyst believes that the next step for SSA should be taking the many products it has acquired and pulling them more tightly together.
"The challenge is that now they're getting to a point where they'd like to start unifying it a little bit more so that they can cross sell, but it's never easy to combine technologies, and it won't be easy for SSA either," he said.