HQ in Australia? It's not Asian enough

Being based in Australia does not grant special status to IT firms in business dealings with Asian buyers, says the CEO of a software firm.

Asian IT buyers pay no special attention to Australian vendors, who must establish substantial Asian presences to successfully woo customers, according to Andy Bryan, the Australian president and chief executive officer of U.S.-based trade management software vendor Omgeo.

Bryan, who spent several years in Hong Kong as a senior executive with Omgoe’s co-owner Thomson Financial, says that Asian IT buyers are “ … looking in every direction for suppliers,” with Australian vendors earning no kudos for being closer to the region than US or European rivals.

“You have got to be on the ground with local people,” Bryan said. “Flying visits just do not work. You need a local presence all the time. Omgeo has been in the Asian market for six to eight years and customers are only just starting to treat us as locals.”

Omgeo’s products enable straight-through processing, a technique which allows banks, financial institutions and stockbrokers to trade equities without the need for manual intervention to confirm a trade. Bryan is predictably bullish about this category of software, believing that any upswing in IT spending in the financial service industries will result in wide adoption of straight-through processing.

“The feeling in the industry is that when trading volumes come back to where they were a few years ago you won’t be competitive if your people are up all night processing trades,” he says. “By automating processing a business can re-apply resources to more productive areas.”

Omgeo’s own careful use of resources, meanwhile, may offer at least some solace for Australian IT workers, as the company recently used members of its local staff to develop a new feature for its products.

“We do most of our development in Boston,” Bryan said. “But a customer in the Asian region needed a small piece of middleware to solve a particular issue.” Code for that feature was developed in Australia and subsequently included in the new release of the company’s software.”

“I have the luxury of running a global company and am always on the lookout for good quality work. The Australian team had the source code and did a very good job, but at the end of the day I don’t mind where the work comes from. Australia, London, wherever. The reality is that you get resources from wherever you can.”

ZDNet Australia's Simon Sharwood reported from Sydney.

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