Despite the fact that he's had an undoubtedly very busy week (read the news about the privatization of FrontRange Solutions here), CEO Michael McCloskey was able to take the time to answer my rather pointed questions about the transaction and what's up at FrontRange in the near and not-so-near future, in light of the company's purchase by Francisco Partners.
TS: It's conventional wisdom that any company scoring a hit with a CRM solution for the midmarket must make the product as customizable and easily integrated as possible. What is FrontRange planning to do on this front to make it stand out on these features from competitors?
MM: We continue to invest in GoldMine software development, and the upcoming release of GoldMine 7.0 Corporate Edition includes many new integration points that our partners and customers can take advantage of. Our customers have already discovered that GoldMine is a quick product to deploy, with unique integration capabilities like GM+Views that provide a view into other systems from within a contact record in GoldMine. That’s a unique approach to integration, and provides access to internal systems like billing and shipping for a 360-degree customer view. We’ve also integrated GoldMine with FrontRange’s new VoIP software for IP Contact Center deployments. And, of course, our IT Service Desk and help desk software products are on a new .NET foundation, and GoldMine will move to that foundation rather soon for even better integration between applications.
TS: How does FrontRange plan to go up against other midmarket CRM providers such as Salesforce.com, Siebel, mySAP CRM, RightNow and NetSuite?
MM: Two important strategies come to mind. First, we are fortunate to have excellent channel partners and solution integrators, rather than a massive direct sales force. Our channel partners bring expertise in business processes and vertical market customization to adapt GoldMine to individual businesses. That unlocks the true potential of GoldMine and provides a solution that really outperforms the vendor offerings you mentioned. Secondly, FrontRange’s strategy is to offer both premise-based and ASP (hosted) versions of our software. That allows our customers to start with one deployment strategy and migrate as their business changes and grows. We think that offering both options and also hybrid deployments will allow FrontRange to attract customers who didn’t have that flexibility from other vendors.
TS: How does FrontRange plan to challenge the solution that will ultimately arise from the Oracle/Siebel/PeopleSoft/JD Edwards conglomerate? Is the fact that this promised solution may be long-delayed a competitive edge for FrontRange?
MM: A lot of CRM buyers were burned in recent years by purchasing big enterprise applications with long deployment cycles, heavy staffing requirements and projects that never really showed value. As a result, the customers we talk to have changed their buying criteria. They are seeking quick time-to-value and low total cost. That is an area where GoldMine really delivers and sets FrontRange apart from the companies you mentioned. Of course, Siebel was acquired by Oracle. That type of event tends to slow product development and create conundrums as decisions are made about integrating technologies. Meanwhile FrontRange continues to release new technologies that map to customer business needs.
TS: What edge is FrontRange gaining by going private? What was the most important deciding factor in this admittedly unusual step?
MM: It's good for FrontRange customers because it provides us with deep pockets and allows us to increase our investment in product development and support services. In addition, they are a sophisticated North American investor, which will help us to identify additional product areas to compliment our already broad array of products. The investment by Francisco Partners also allows FrontRange to de-list on the JSE stock exchange and take the company private, which gives us more options for equity strategy going forward.
TS: Thanks, Michael.
Tracey Schelmetic is editorial director for CUSTOMER INTER@CTION Solutions. For more articles by Tracey Schelmetic, please visit: