HelpSystems Spies Overseas Expansion With Tango/04 Buy
February 29, 2016 Alex Woodie
HelpSystems CEO Chris Heim told IT Jungle that his company’s acquisition of rival IBM i software maker Tango/04 Computing Group last week marks the beginning of an aggressive push into the overseas market. The deal for Tango/04 will jumpstart HelpSystems’ presence in Southern Europe and Latin America, but there’s a lot more room for expansion, he says.
While North America is far and away the biggest market for IBM i goods and services, the platform has always enjoyed strong overseas sales and has an international presence that is arguably bigger than it is in the United States. IBM makes about 45 to 50 percent of its sales in the U.S., which means the international market accounts for 50 to 55 percent.
“Our sales are 73 percent concentrated in the United States, so there are a lot of opportunities worldwide that we are missing out on,” Heim said in an interview late Friday. “So this was about us picking up some great resources, some great products, some great offices in parts of that world that we haven’t done a lot of business in, quite honestly, in Latin America and Southern Europe. Now we feel the coverage for our products is much stronger.”
The acquisition nets HelpSystems two major offices, including Tango/04’s headquarters in Barcelona, Spain, and its Latin American headquarters in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The plan calls for the Tango/04 staffers in those offices–they both have about 30 employees each–to begin selling the entire suite of HelpSystems products.
“It will more than double our international resource and increase our international revenue by one-third today,” Heim continued. “I think it’s a great staring point and more excitingly it provides us a foundation for even greater expansion in the future.”
Tango/04 has been serving the needs of the AS/400, iSeries, System i, and IBM i community since it was founded 25 years ago. The company boasts a roster of more than 300 customers, about 80 percent of which are IBM i shops. Tango/04 had a number of marquee names on its logo sheet, including companies like 3M, Costco, McDonald’s, Nike, UBS Bank, and Zurich. The company was strongest in the financial services business–it counts a number of Latin American banks as customers–but it has a footprint in other IBM i strongholds, like retail, consumer goods, and distribution too.
Heim is looking forward to tapping Tango/04’s resources–including those staffers and its extensive partner network–to grow sales of HelpSystems products around the world. “If you look at their needs, security is one of the top ones,” he said. “It’s an untapped market for us in many respects.”
In addition to international reach, the deal brings to HelpSystems Alignia, Tango/04’s new flagship business service management (BSM) product, which was launched just a year and a half ago.
Alignia is a cross-platform suite of infrastructure, middleware, and application monitoring software designed to automate much of the IT management drudgery that needs to be done, while shielding workers from the technical complexity that afflict today’s cross-platform workflows. According to Tango/04’s director of consulting and managed administration, Paolo Cappello, Alignia sits above the VISUAL products and serves to integrate various messaging tools.
“Where we want to go with Alignia is to have companies control their business,” Cappello, who now runs the Barcelona office, said in an interview. “Things are changing and companies do not really manage all the technology they need to offer those services, because they’re using a lot of services provided by third party, by partners, etc. So all this complexity can really have an impact on the business.”
Heim called Alignia a “visionary” product and says HelpSystems’ various systems management products–such as the Robot, Halcyon, and Bytware tools–are stitched together and integrated with Alignia. “They have some really great capabilities to monitor all these solutions and then do some really cool things with correlation,” he said. We’ll definitely integrate it in. We have a fair number of those capabilities. But Alignia goes beyond some of the things we do in some of those other areas that are critical.”
Tango/04 CEO Raul Cristian Aguirre–who is not joining HelpSystems after selling his company–said the two companies make a great match.
“HelpSystems has a stellar reputation for delivering innovative software that makes IT environments more efficient, as Tango/04 does with Alignia,” Cristian Aguirre said in a statement. “Seeing their dedication to excellence and taking care of the customer I know we have found a good home because that’s exactly what we’ve been doing and will continue to do together.”
Heim, who joined HelpSystems in late 2014, said the deal has been a long time in coming.
“We look back at the notes, and we’ve been talking to Tango/04 about acquiring them for ten years,” he said. “So this is not a new development. What really accelerated this is Raul visited us over the summer and he really felt comfortable with what they’re going on HelpSystems and the way we’re treating employees and customer. So he thought it would be a great home for Tango and that really accelerated things. We’ve made so many policy changes regarding customer pricing and things like that, he felt comfortable with that, that it would be a good home.”
This won’t be the last deal for HelpSystems, which has acquired 15 companies over a 10-year period. Heim noted that, after the deal was announced last Thursday, he got a few calls from some other software vendors overseas.
Here’s a list of HelpSystems acquisitions since 2006: