Alison Wheeler’s IT experience in Canada might not be the most valuable asset she brings to her job at J.D. Edwards.
The latest country manager, Canada, comes armed with 15 years on the job, but given the current climate her
sense of optimism might be just as important. Wheeler moves into the job after having served a similar role for Lawson Software. Wheeler replaces Paul Pozzobon, who’d had the position for a year, and is responsible for directing sales, services and operations in Canada.
Computing Canada: What do you think the responsibilities of the country manager are?
Alison Wheeler: I think there are two things that I need to be doing. We have a very happy, satisfied customer base, but I obviously want to make sure that grows and the satisfaction rate increases as they feel comfortable with dealing with me and my team in Toronto and across the country. The second thing is to grow revenues and expand the client base in Canada.
CC: How do you plan to accomplish this?
AW: I’m going to work closely with my partners across the country. We’ve got some very strong partners. We’ve got a really good team in place. They’ve got longevity with the organization and I think that helps drive performance and revenues. But I think the partner relationship is critical to growing business in this market place. It’s just more people, they’re local, it gives the client that much more comfort that not only can they turn to J.D. Edwards for support and service, but they’ve also got organizations like IBM and PWC as well as Deloitte & Touche.
CC: What are the biggest challenges facing expansion?
AW: The biggest challenge is the market; it’s still a tough environment. Organizations are very hesitant to go forward with a full ERP implementation. The good news for J.D. Edwards is we allow them to buy smaller pieces of our applications whether it’s customer relationship management or segments of our systems and they’re all fully integrated, but they can do it in pieces. That may be what we see for sales this coming year. There still will be some of those large implementations, but not to the degree we had a few years ago.
CC: Who is most likely to be shopping?
AW: I think the natural resources companies are very interested in the products that we offer, but we’re seeing a lot of activity in manufacturing and distribution.
CC: Does your plan differ from that of your predecessor Bob Pozzebon?
AW: I think I’m going to be spending more time with the partners. Bob had the mandate of expanding our vertical focus and he certainly was successful, and it show in the revenues. But it took a fair bit of his time and I think we’re growing with those verticals and doing very, but I want to spend more time with the partners. We’ve established sales and service and R&D and all those good things, but that took our focus off spending the time necessary to work with the partners for success.
CC: Will the mid-market be the place to be next year?
AW: Canada is a mid-market country — it always has been. I’ve always been in the mid-market space in the businesses I’ve worked in. Certainly, it’s getting attention from SAP and Oracle, but I think they’re going to have a challenge providing a model that works for the organizations in that space based on the revenues that they have and the money they can spend on a project. The big guys are trying to come into the mid-market, but they’re going to have a challenge and I think Microsoft is going to be showing up in the space as well over the next year.
There’s still a large number of organizations that have not implemented end-to-end integrated systems. Whether they choose to do it in pieces or whether they choose to buy the whole thing, that’s where the activity’s going to be this year.
CC: What piece will they start with?
AW: I think it depends on the vertical. Some have a real strong interest in customer relationship management, as they want to pull their customers closer, increase the loyalty and that sort of thing. But in some verticals that isn’t critical to them because they’ve got a tight relationship. In six months I’ll let you know.
CC: What are your market predictions for 2003?
AW: I think it’s going to turn around. I don’t think it’s going to be a dramatic turnaround. We’re seeing our pipelines increasing. We’re getting a lot of activity from our marketing campaigns and partner activity, so I expect revenues to increase on the licence side and that drives service revenue for both us and our partners.
I don’t think we’re going to be into dramatic changes, but I do see it going in the right direction, and that’s good news for all of us in this industry. There’s pent-up demand. People have spent the last couple of years deferring decisions and you can only do that for so long if you want to be competitive. That’s the good news — the pent-up demand is still there — and we’re not fighting so much alternate uses of capital.