FishTech hooked

FishTech hooked

FishTech & Partners, the former Notes specialist application developer and integrator, has fallen to the seemingly endless Solution 6 acquisition machine. But as he prepares to bank the reported $19 million in Solution 6 scrip, founder and CEO Nick Fish said it represents "an enormous move forward for us".

According to Fish, following completion of the acquisition, the company will continue to operate under the FishTech name as a subsidiary of Sol-ution 6 Holdings. He described it as the best option for FishTech to propel the business to where he wanted it to be.

Fish said he had considered floating the company or raising the necessary finance via venture capitalists. But he pointed to the benefits of an amalgamation with Solution 6 as not only leveraging on its global brand and reach - "we're immediately part of a group that has 23 offices in 10 countries" - but that the infrastructure for the international market is well established.

It's not just a case of using Solution 6' business scale, though. Fish asserted that the timing was right, and the market opportunity for his part of the e-business world is arriving now. The technology is becoming relevant today, he added. "Twelve months ago, the business community was getting its head around ERP and Y2K, and we've noticed that integration [of a suite of applications] has become core."

FishTech's manager of business strategy, Belinda York, said that Australia is on the e-commerce progression path but hasn't got to where the US is in the supply chain management area. "The real return on investment on Internet strategy is seen in the broader business-to-business sector, and the trading hub is the next iteration of where e-business space is heading," she said. "We're seeing in the US traditional competitors General Motors, Ford and Chrysler joining up in a trading hub to address their joint constituencies."

And the local Lotus boss was glowed by the expansion plans of its business partners. Peter Taylor, managing director of Lotus Australia and New Zealand, said "it's indicative of the importance of Notes and Domino in the world that two excellent business partners are coming together."

In light of the global trend, Fish pointed out that the company was already progressing with its own channels to the world market. It recently announced an alliance with US-based Notes/Domino solution provider IT Factory to establish another global channel opportunity. The arrangement saw FishTech's AppLink Information Integrator, which is described as the world's only message brokering technology for Notes/Domino environments, into IT Factory's Notes/Domino development environment. And FishTech has a representative of its R&D team working with IBM's application integration middleware (AIMS) group. As York put it: "We have a lot of opportunities lined up but we really need the scale to affect it, and that's what Solution 6 gives us."

Solution 6 will gain ownership of FishTech's core assets that allow it to broaden its own e-business strategy, and its newest subsidiary has the opportunity to snare global market share for its Applink Enterprise Integrator. And it's not a case of Solution 6 learning about the potential of the products and skills within FishTech. It has had the opportunity of using the products and partnering via its Centrum ASP business.

According to Solutions 6 managing director Chris Tyler: "We were extremely impressed with FishTech whilst working closely with them in a strategic alliance. We are even more excited about this acquisition . . . to better service our professional clients as we leverage our core software and services assets."

While he's capable of trading meta-phors with the best of them, Fish has a simple description for the jargon-ridden marketplace in which his company operates. "We make e-business as simple as A-B-C . . . application-to-application, business-to-business and business-to-consumer. You can't sustain a business-to-business model unless you have app to app integration under control."

As well as application-to-application integration, he claimed it now delivers it at the business to business level. "Although I will say that not one app-to-app integration technology suits everybody so you're going to need to partner with other vendors to give the customer a total solution," he added.

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