eWare CEO: the intergalactic CRM project is over

Tech Update spoke with eWare CEO, Ivan Macdonald, on a recent trip to London. The intergalactic CRM project is over, he says

The Dublin-based company, eWare, has earned a reputation for solid mobile CRM solutions, but is keen to be seen as more than just the mobile guys. "What often comes across about eWare is 'Oh, they do the mobile CRM' No, no, no -- that's part of what we do. We believe if you don't have mobile in CRM the rest of it is going to be compromised hugely." said chief executive, Ivan Macdonald, in an interview with Tech Update. Macdonald was in London last week to host a dealer event at which customer announcements were made -- including the deployment of eWare by Iona Technologies across Europe, and two new household name customers; Securicor and Clerical and Medical. eWare have so far survived the worst ravages of the tech slump. Macdonald says his company is "having a pretty good time" and "if you have something people really want... and you deal with savvy customers who have a plan there is business out there, there really is."... "We've doubled our number of customers since September -- we've been v. successful in Europe and Benelux." he adds. The eWare CEO and founder comes across as quietly confident about his firm's competitive position and says the current market situation favours companies like eWare. "I am not arrogant enough to think that we are going to eat Siebel's lunch" says Macdonald, but adds that market forces are tending to persuade businesses against what he calls "the intergalactic CRM project" He is also critical of the multi-platform capabilities of rival software. "The mobile solution is where these things fall down... If it doesn't work very well and a lot of mobile solutions don't...if it doesn't behave in the field the same as it does in the office it will fail" he says. In reality eWare is not competing for precisely the same market as Siebel -- focussing more on the mid-market, as opposed to the multi national players that typically dominate Siebel's user base. But irrespective of size, Macdonald sees similar cost cutting forces at play in all businesses currently. "the days of assigning 25 guys to a six month, or twelve month CRM project are over. That's just gone. You have to deploy quickly, you have to show return quickly" he says. One of the consequences of 'intergalactic' projects, says Macdonald, is that projects have tended to pursue rather nebulous objectives without a clear business case. The mantra has been building a 'single view of customer' -- "Er, why?" says Macdonald. Similarly, and somewhat surprisingly, he counsels against mobile for mobile's sake. If you don't have a business need, a mobile sales force or engineers in the field, then ask yourself why are you doing it, he says. Despite Macdonald's keenness to talk about things other than eWare's mobile strength -- the Internet architecture of its software, its OEM success in the US through Computer Associates' Accpac lable, and its new clients -- the customer examples he chooses to illustrate points tend to be drawn from mobile sales forces. The recent deployment of eWare by Iona Technologies in Europe, Middle East and Africa conforms to this pattern. "they wanted a system to deploy across that geography without going through the big upheaval of multi country implementations and installations in every country. They also wanted something that users would like... and they would use." He says Strong penetration of cell phones in European business has created the market opportunity for firms like eWare to take a lead in mobile CRM. The Aberdeen Group said last year that Europe has a twelve month lead over the US in mobile CRM.

Have your say instantly, in the Tech Update forum. For a weekly round-up of the enterprise IT news, sign up for the Tech Update newsletter. Find out what's where in the new Tech Update with our Guided Tour. Tell us what you think in the Mailroom.