Infor snags AMR's Bruce Richardson

Surprise surprise! No sooner does AMR announce it is being acquired by Gartner and Bruce Richardson, one of the industry's legends hops over the wall to Infor, joining as Chief Strategy Officer.
Written by Dennis Howlett, Contributor

Surprise surprise! No sooner does AMR announce it is being acquired by Gartner and Bruce Richardson, one of the industry's legends hops over the wall to Infor, joining as Chief Strategy Officer. According to the release:

Richardson will report to Jim Schaper, Infor chairman and chief executive officer (CEO). In addition to his role with Infor, he will serve as a strategic advisor to Golden Gate Capital, Infor's largest shareholder.

"As a student of the market for the last 30 years, I understand the dynamics of the business software marketplace -- the forces that are driving the industry and shifting the balance of power in favor of customers," said Richardson. "Infor gets it. Their leadership is changing how business software providers engage with customers.

I've known Bruce - or The Silver Fox as he is more affectionately known among analyst circles - since the mid 1990's. One of the industry's rock stars, he was always prepared to make himself available when Gartner analysts were 'too busy' to take a call. His sound bite worthy turn of phrase and often brutal honesty contrast sharply with the bland, PR driven statements you'd get from others. I always find Bruce to be generous with his time and willing to listen to counter argument.

Bruce's knowledge of the industry is truly encyclopedic, his Rolodex one to die for.

The last time we met - Boston at the SAP Influencer Summit last December - I speculated that Gartner's acquisition gave him choices for the future. He mumbled agreement. It now seems he has made that choice. That's interesting as somehow I could not see him slotting comfortably into the Gartner machine. He's too much of a renegade and not what you'd call 'on PR message.'

I'll miss those SAP press conferences occasions where the SAP PR MC stands up and says: "As is tradition, the first question goes to Bruce Richardson of AMR." You were always guaranteed of something incisive.

Phil Fersht of Horse for Sources says:

Like everyone else in the industry, I am hoping - and expecting - Bruce to continue enlightening us all with his weekly musings from the vendor side.  And I am sure even SAP and Oracle won't begrudge him what has become industry-standard with our Monday-morning espresso.  Who said you can't blog from the dark side?

I don't know about that. We'll see. What I do know is that Infor just got a lot more interesting. It will be fun seeing if we can skewer Bruce and get him to open up the company. Signs I saw from last year's Infor user conference suggest this is one step on that path. It is a welcome development in an industry that is slowly becoming more transparent at companies like SAP, now Infor and many of the smaller vendors. That contrasts sharply with others like Oracle that remain rooted in a command and control, clam shell mindset.

Congratulations to Infor and Bruce - a great catch on both sides.

Disclosure: Phil and I worked as part of the same team in the late 1990's. Infor recently sought my opinion on 2010 issues.

UPDATE: Sage Circle's Carter Lusher raises an interesting point about what this means for Gartner:

Surely Gartner would have liked to have retained Richardson to sooth clients? Does Bruce’s departure signal unease by at least some analysts that the new emerging organizational structure will not be as satisfying as when AMR was independent. Remember that Bruce wrote “As you can surmise, I plan to stay with Gartner and reach a much broader audience” in his blog post of December 1st.

One interesting possibility brought up by one of our very smart clients is that Bruce’s departure gives implicit permission to other AMR analysts that they can leave as well, rather staying on in loyalty to a colleague.

Hmm...that wasn't the impression I got a few days later.

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