There’s a slow, slow train comin’ up around the bend: Epilog for the Ariba Interviews

Posted on March 4, 2009


“Sometimes I feel so low-down and disgusted

Can’t help but wonder what’s happenin’ to my companions,

Are they lost or are they found, have they counted the cost it’ll take to bring down

All their earthly principles they’re gonna have to abandon?

There’s a slow, slow train comin’ up around the bend.”

From Slow Train Lyrics by Bob Dylan (Released August 20, 1979)


Under the headline “Ariba is in demand claims finance chief” (refer to the link of the same name in the Web Resources section at the conclusion of this post), Ariba’s chief financial officer Ahmed Rubaie claimed that “a 71% leap in subscription software revenues is proof that Ariba has firmly transitioned itself into an on-demand technology company.”

My initial reaction was . . . “well, that only took a year and a half.” 

The following excerpt from what has turned out to be one of my most popular articles/posts ever, “The Ariba Interviews: Re-engineering the Future of On-Demand?” (, will help to clarify the above reaction:

“In the two subsequent interviews in which the PR representatives were participants, I asked a number of questions including what was the driving force behind Ariba’s original decision to as they put it “re-engineer” their software to adapt to the on-demand or SaaS world?  Was there a concern that the new business model would cannibalize their traditional business rather than expand their market share into new areas such as the SME community?  Was there a point in which they would come to a fork in the road and have to embrace one model over the other?  In short, how will customers (and prospective customers) respond to their strategy in the long run?”.

At the time they did not have ready answers.  It looks as if they may have them now!

The only real question that remains is “how will the market respond as albeit smaller but more nimble and “technologically seasoned” vendors who have been in the SaaS space from the beginning emerge to compete directly with what was undoubtedly one of the industry’s former “traditional model” titans.  A titan, who it is worth noting, racked up enormous losses that if not for a war chest that rivaled that of a small country might have fallen prey to becoming a distant memory of a failed experiment re the “big up front pay, future ROI” programs associated with the old school licensing models.       

Over the next few days I will delve deeper into these latest revelations from the Ariba CFO, including what exactly “a 71% leap in subscription software revenues” actually means in relation to their overall financial picture as well as the industry as a whole.

It will be an interesting journey!

Web Resources:

Ariba is in demand claims finance chief:  


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