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IBM to acquire OpenPages for GRC, operational risk management

OpenPages will be integrated with IBM's business analytics software portfolio.

IBM announced Wednesday plans to acquire OpenPages, in a move the company said would expand its business analytics capabilities to support compliance and risk management processes.

Waltham, Mass.-based OpenPages sells governance risk and compliance (GRC) software for enterprise risk management, operational risk management and Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) compliance. The company's centralized operational risk management software can collect and analyze data to determine an enterprise's risk exposure. For example, if a company is expanding its business, the software can highlight any inconsistencies in risk and performance goals, giving business leaders a view of the business opportunities and risks associated with the expansion.

When the acquisition is finalized, IBM said it would integrate OpenPages within its business analytics software portfolio. IBM's message right now is to keep OpenPages operating on its own with deeper integration plans in the future, said resources Chris McClean, an analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. Integration points could be with IBM's WebSphere application server and Tivoli software line.

McClean said OpenPages has been seen as an acquisition target because of its strong customer base. The acquisition doesn't come as a surprise, he said, because IBM's Cognos business intelligence capabilities have long been used by OpenPages as its reporting platform. "[OpenPages] is all about managing compliance, assessing risks and reporting on which risks are important to keep an eye on," McClean said. "All of that fits into the GRC space."

SAP, Oracle Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. could also potentially make similar acquisitions, McClean said. The GRC market is made up of more than 20 software vendors, some specializing in niche areas. OpenPages competes with Archer Technologies, which was acquired by EMC Corp. in January. Its other chief competitor is Paisley Inc., which was acquired in 2008 by Thompson Reuters. Other notables in the market, according to McClean, are MetricStream Inc. and CompuThink Inc., which sells ViewWise software for GRC.

"Integrating risk management systems across once-divided units and functions is essential to seeing the bigger picture," Rob Ashe, IBM's general manager, business analytics, said in a statement. "The combination of IBM and OpenPages will provide a holistic and consistent approach to risk management helping companies combine that insight with performance management to drive better decision making."

Michael Duffy, president and CEO of OpenPages, said current customers will not have to rip and replace systems. He said IBM would preserve OpenPages' current client and partner investments.

"Everyday we hear firsthand about the risk and compliance management issues that businesses face, and it's clear that a new information architecture is needed to delivery valuable risk intelligence that empowers risk-based decision making," Duffy said in a statement. "The combination of IBM and OpenPages software, business process insights and industry expertise will address this need, helping businesses tackle their complex risk challenges."

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