Reinventing Progress Software—Boston’s Next Billion-Dollar Company? Part 2

3/25/10Follow @wroush

Yesterday we published the first part of an extended Xconomy interview with Progress Software CEO Richard Reidy and chief technology officer John Bates. While Bedford, MA-based Progress (NASDAQ: PRGS) is one of the largest software makers in Massachusetts and was founded just a couple of years after EMC, its profile is nowhere near as high in the state, in part because it evolved as a hodgepodge of divisions serving distinct parts of the business software market.

But under Reidy, who took up the CEO mantle last year, the company is unifying both its product lines and its marketing strategy, in an attempt to explain how it can help companies increase their “operational responsiveness”—meaning their ability to sense and respond to real-time events in their markets. Reidy described, for example, how Progress is working with financial-services firms and regulators to detect insider trading and with logistics firms to improve the efficiency of shipping ports.

In the second half of the interview, below, Bates talks about his own perspective on Progress Software’s consolidation and growth. Reidy describes what the company has learned over the years about how to integrate newly purchased subsidiaries (and says the company probably isn’t quite through acquiring other companies). And the two talk about the challenges and opportunities raised by ongoing change in areas like cloud and mobile computing.

Xconomy: John, how do you describe this transition that Progress is going through?

John BatesJohn Bates: Rick set the vision when he took over as CEO of us becoming “one Progress,” with the goal of delivering solutions to our customers not as disparate organizations but as one sales force, one marketing team. We are well underway in executing that vision. Our aim is to make it so that all of our solutions can be bundled under these three capabilities of gaining visibility, sensing and responding, and business process management. Those are principally orchestrated through our Progress Actional, Progress Apama, and Progress Savvion products.

You can sum it all up into one phrase: responsive business processes. We don’t believe that any other organization can deliver that. Other organizations have pieces, but they haven’t put them together in the way we’re talking about. We have sponsored a number of research projects on this with market research firms, and 95 percent of respondents say they absolutely have to respond in their business processes to real-time information. It’s gone from a nice-to-have to a must-have. We think there is a real opportunity for Progress to steal the leadership here.

X: Do businesses need to start from a clean slate and buy all of Progress’s products together, or can they bolt them on one at a time?

JB: Progress can come in and integrate with whatever they’ve already got. One of the biggest problems we’ve seen in our customer base is … Next Page »

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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