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New Leader, New Strategy
Pivotal chief is poised for a mid-market takeover.
For the rest of the April 2002 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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New Pivotal Corp. Chief Executive Bo Manning may have been on the job fewer than six months, but he is a man on a mission. In his first full quarter at Pivotal's helm, which ended December 31, 2001, Manning implemented and executed several strategic sales, services, and partnering plans. CRM Senior Editor David Myron spoke with Manning regarding his views on Pivotal's position in the market, and technologies like Java and mobile and wireless CRM products. CRM: How do your views differ from Pivotal's cofounder and former President and Chief Executive Norm Francis?
Bo Manning: He has always been an entrepreneur, going from $0 to $100 million. I've spent most of my life in large organizations. My previous job was running Deloitte Consulting's CRM practice, a $500 million business with 2,000 people. So I think I had more of an appreciation for what it takes to run a $500 million entity. There's different views on strategy, planning, and how you conduct yourself day-to-day. CRM: Do you plan on any more corporate restructuring measures in the next six months?
Manning: No. We're comfortable with our current cost structure, which is $19 million per quarter. That gives us the ability to return to profitability in the fourth quarter. So the plan for the next six months is to keep the costs flat and continue to grow, thereby creating very meaningful profitability going forward. CRM: What was Pivotal's smartest move in the past six months?
Manning: I would say adopting the focus on what we call the entrepreneurial enterprise segment, or the middle market. These are companies that are $100 million to several billion. We believe that's a smart move on our part, because that means we are not competing directly with Siebel, SAP, Oracle, and PeopleSoft. They are battling for the global 2000. Historically, the middle market has been ignored and underserved. And to the extent that the humongous software players try to serve it, they serve it wrong, because they have a mentality, a cost structure, and a product line that is too heavy for the middle market. So the smart move we made was picking the right segment of the market. It happens to be a giant segment that is fast growing and underserved.
CRM: Are there any plans for Java-based products?
Manning: We've always had an open-architecture perspective. So our product is built primarily in an industry standardizing on Microsoft technologies. We've been open in that regard. We've always been pretty good at exposing our APIs. We have just recently introduced our Pivotal Integration Engine. It is XML-based, which I think is becoming the standard for integrating applications within enterprises and across enterprises. In addition, as much as an organization could be, we are .NET compliant and really focused on the future of Web services architecture. We talked to many CIOs about this and they said, "We don't care, as long as you move toward Web services, architect your product right, and base integration around XML, it is irrelevant whether it happens to be Java or Microsoft." They also said, "The only thing we know for sure is that two years from now people will be excited about another language." Architecture lasts for a long time. Language lasts for a short time. CRM: Are customers asking for mobile and wireless CRM products?
Manning: We see a lot of clients interested in that, especially when they see our own field organization interacting through Blackberries with all the key components of the Pivotal application. But clients are just starting to think about how that applies to their organization. I don't think they are quite ready to buy in any mass quantities at this point. But it is clearly an interesting part of the dialogue we have with our prospects and customers. It's something we demonstrate out of the box and we literally use every day in our field organization. CRM: What are you focusing on over the next six months?
Manning: Over the next six months we'll be focusing on new enhancements in the marketing, contact center, and interactive selling applications.
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