A building management expert is looking to build up J.D. Edwards’ market share by targeting verticals.
The software vendor hired Bob Pozzobon earlier this week to lead its Canadian operations. Pozzobon was formerly head of Interactive Executive Offices Worldwide Corp., which did the legwork for clients setting up new office space and before that, Brookfield Management Services Ltd., one of the largest building management companies in the world.
According to Pozzobon, he was tagged to manage J.D. Edwards into 2002 due to his experience in the vertical markets the software company aims to conquer. He’s also no stranger to the technology market, having worked in sales at IBM for most of the 1980s.
Pozzobon spoke to Computing Canada about his plans next year for J.D. Edwards, its rough ride through 2001, and the importance of vertical markets in Canada.
Computing Canada: Can you explain a bit more about what you did with Interactive Executive Offices Worldwide Corp.?
Bob Pozzobon: They basically take high-rise office space from the landlord and provide total solutions for customers, whether it be remote sales agents, consultants and people that need flexible office space. What we would provide them is office space, board room facilities, receptionists, administration support, telecommunications-type services, ASP services — a solutions bundle so that somebody in the mobile workforce could handle their business needs. My role there was really to help raise capital for the corporation, to acquire other business centres like them.
CC: Why have you made the jump to working for a software company?
BP: My tenure prior to Brookfield was with IBM. I really do come from a technology sales background and in particular, in the Canadian environment. With Brookfield we implemented solutions similar to what J.D. Edwards is selling, so I’ve lived it on the selling side and I’ve lived it on the implementing side.
I do have a strong technology background, but more importantly a strong general management and senior level background and that’s what J.D. Edwards wanted to move to in terms of their Canadian subsidiary.
CC: Will J.D. Edwards continue to focus on the mid-market customer segment?
BP: Depending on your definition of mid-market, I think that’s always been our focus and our strength. Both in Canada and in the U.S., we’ve been there. I think the change in direction, as opposed to general geography, we’re moving towards more industry-vertical sales and service consultants so we can speak the customers’ language and be more attuned to providing solutions to those customers.
From a sales and servicing perspective, the verticals I’ve worked in are distribution, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals. I have a very good knowledge base in terms of those industries. Back in October, we announced a re-focusing of J.D. Edwards to move towards vertical markets. (My appointment) is in synch with our new corporate strategy and my detailed background in the Canadian landscape with those accounts that we’re focusing on.
CC: What is your predecessor Ron Reid doing now?
BP: Ron’s decided to leave the business and move on in terms of his career. I’m basically replacing him because we needed somebody in the Canadian marketplace that has more business experience and more of a general management background.
CC: J.D. Edwards completed its acquisition of CRM vendor Youcentric last month. How are they fitting in?
BP: You’re seeing (products) today. Our Youcentric people have been working very hard. Although the acquisition went through officially just recently, we’ve been working very closely with them for a number of months and their product is being integrated and will be part of the base platform for OneWorld, which is our flagship software solution.
CC: How will you compete against other providers that sell enterprise software to the mid-market, like Oracle?
BP: Let’s face it, they’re five times our size and they’re a staunch competitor. I think we’ll be able to compete aggressively with them. I think what we provide to the customer is really an end-to-end solution and a tremendous team that has a strong base of installed accounts in the Canadian marketplace, especially in the verticals that we’re concentrating in.
Oracle’s strength has been on the database side, and although obviously they have a suite of products that compete in the ERP space, I feel there’s enough business out there for both of us.
CC: How to you plan to grow your services organization next year?
BP: We’ve got a strong foundation of industry expertise and application expertise within J.D. Edwards and we’re looking to expand that role. As we move the business forward we see our services revenue growing a lot faster than our licence fee revenue, because I think that’s where the opportunity is. I can see us in the not too distant future being half services and half licence fees. It’s not too dissimilar to some of the things IBM did a number of years ago as they moved away from being a hardware vendor to being an e-commerce and service provider. We’re going to do a lot of these same things.
CC: J.D. Edwards is coming off a tough year, like so many other technology providers, but are there signs of life towards the end of 2001?
BP: J.D. Edwards’ fiscal fourth quarter (ending October) was very good. We did turn a profit for the first time in a number of quarters and I think we’re poised for that turnaround. We went through some gut-wrenching changes over the course of the last year in terms of right-sizing and getting ourselves in the right position to be able to grow. I think that’s where we are today. We’re poised for that, the change is behind us, the future looks positive.