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BARC Perspective on the Announced Acquisition of “Write!” & “Fiplana” by insightsoftware

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insightsoftware has announced the acquisition of data entry and planning software solutions “Write!” and “Fiplana”. Read the views of BARC's analyst team on this recent market development.

What happened?

insightsoftware has announced that it is acquiring the data entry and planning software solutions “Write!” and “Fiplana” from Inform, a long-established Aachen/Germany-based software and services company. Inform has a traditionally strong relationship with Qlik as one of the leading Qlik integration partners in the region, and the software is based on the Qlik platform.

Why is it important?

CPM solutions based on leading BI platforms such as Microsoft Power BI, Qlik, and Tableau are rapidly gaining traction and represent a fast-growing sub-segment of the CPM market. Customers are increasingly looking to maximize their existing investments in these platforms by integrating additional functionalities, creating a more comprehensive and efficient solution within a single platform.

Currently, planning and budgeting are the most popular applications in this segment, and some vendors around “Planning for Power BI” have gained significant market presence in the last three years. There are also established planning and write-back solutions for Qlik and Tableau, and this acquisition underlines the growing importance of this sub-segment of the CPM market.

What is interesting about it?

  • Last year, insightsoftware acquired two data and analytics add-ons for major BI platforms: Power ON, a planning solution integrated with Microsoft Power BI, and Vizlib, a graphics library add-on for Qlik. With these acquisitions, insightsoftware has positioned itself as one of the leading providers of data and analytics add-ons for standard BI platforms.
  • Although Qlik has not actively marketed its tools for planning and write-back scenarios, the platform seems to be well-suited for these applications, and the existing Qlik customer base appears to be embracing it. In addition to Inform’s solutions, vendors such as K4 Analytics, molnify, Inphinity, and others are addressing this need. We estimate the total number of active customers in this segment to be well over 1,000.
  • Once this deal closes this marks, as far as we could count, insightsoftware’s 27th acquisition in its six years of operation, solidifying its position as a leading aggregator in the global data, analytics, and CPM software market. Following the acquisitions of financial consolidation specialist IDL in 2020 and dashboard specialist Cubeware in 2022, this is insightsoftware’s third acquisition in Germany.

Background and technological fit

  • Inform started with “Write!” years ago with an Qlik add-on for basic write-back scenarios and has recently added “Fiplana” as a full planning solution with extended functionalities like top-down data entry and other functionality which is expected from a sophisticated CPM solution. Although both solutions are marketed under different brand names, both are based on the same architecture and code.
  • With the acquisition of Vizlib last year, insightsoftware already has a solution in its portfolio that enables write-back in the Qlik platform. Since Vizlib primarily focuses on graphical visualization extensions, we anticipate that Write! will become the leading write-back and planning solution for Qlik in the insightsoftware portfolio.
  • Insightsoftware has expanded its portfolio with several CPM solutions through recent acquisitions, including IDL, Longview, Bizview, and Tidemark. It seems logical to leverage the newly acquired capabilities as an additional Qlik-based data entry option for these CPM platforms. However, it remains uncertain if this will happen, as insightsoftware has historically prioritized scaling individual acquired products rather than heavily investing in their integration.

Potential negative effects for customers

  • Integrating Fiplana and Write! into insightsoftware’s extensive portfolio and bundling them with other solutions may not add immediate value. Deeper technical integration could slow down individual component development. However, insightsoftware’s practice of allowing acquired product teams to work independently might mitigate some of these challenges.
  • With an extended and powerful global salesforce, along with the influence an international vendor brings to price negotiations, we can expect the average actual selling price to increase.
  • There is some overlap between the write-back solution that was part of Vizlib and the newly acquired capabilities of Write! It is unlikely that insightsoftware will maintain both similar solutions for more than 2-3 years. Consequently, sooner or later, some of the customer base will need to switch to or adopt a new joint product.

Potential positive effects for customers

  • Although the customer base of the acquired solution is international and supported by an international partner network, the majority of customers are German-centric. This acquisition extends the solution’s global reach, availability, and support.
  • We believe that insightsoftware acquired these solutions to invest in their development. This acquisition enhances investment security for existing and future buyers, compared to purchasing software from a small team within a large software and services company with different priorities.
  • The combination of Vizlib’s graphical add-ons and Fiplana’s planning functionalities provides a broader product offering, which could potentially be available as a joint Qlik add-on product bundle.

Strategic outlook

Planning in the large BI platforms is no longer an exotic niche, and this acquisition is a further step in establishing this architecture as a valid option for all customers looking for integrated planning functions. Another challenger in this segment, SAP with SAP Analytics Cloud, has built the architecture with integrated planning functionality from the start.

Insightsoftware has already acquired write-back and planning solutions for Power BI and Qlik. This could serve as a foundation to develop a universal CPM add-on solution for all major BI platforms. However, this is speculative, as we have previously noted that integration does not appear to be insightsoftware’s primary focus.

We expect more traditional CPM vendors to integrate with Power BI, Qlik, and Tableau. For instance, Jedox has offered the option to use Power BI for data entry within its proprietary CPM solution for some time. Although customer adoption has been relatively low so far, this feature provides an additional incentive for prospects who have already invested in Power BI when choosing a CPM solution.
In the traditional Anglo-American mindset of data and analytics, planning is seen as distinct from BI and analytics. However, customers are increasingly challenging this separation. Acquisitions like this, along with other recent market developments, could shift this perspective, making integrated planning and reporting a common requirement when selecting solutions in this field.

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BARC Fellow

Stefan Sexl is a BARC Fellow specializing in CPM, BI and reporting. With 30 years of industry experience with leading vendors such as MIS AG, pmOne and Tagetik, he advises vendors on marketing, sales and product strategy as well as end customers on the selection and implementation of solutions.

He has a particular focus on the market for CPM and group accounting solutions including planning, consolidation, ESG, account reconciliation and other components.

Founder & CEO

As founder and CEO, Dr. Carsten Bange has built BARC into Europe’s leading market analysis and consulting firm for data & analytics over the past 25 years. With his team of 50 people, he helps companies make the strategic, organizational and technological decisions that ensure their successful transformation into data- and analytics-driven organizations.

Dr. Bange is considered one of the leading experts on the technology market and the beneficial use of data & analytics, which makes him a sought-after speaker, author and consultant for companies, software vendors and service providers as well as investors.

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