EASY and ECM: twin successes

Editorial Type: Interview Date: 11-2018 Views: 975 Tags: Document, Channel, GDPR, HR, EASY Software PDF Version:
In September, Andy Boulton was appointed CEO of EASY Software UK. DM Magazine sat down with him to find out his ideas and plans for the company and the EASY channel business

Document Manager: What first attracted you to take on the role of CEO for EASY Software UK?
Andy Boulton: I'd just completed my previous role with a leading UK and Ireland systems integrator and as I was wrapping things up there I took a call from an ex-colleague of mine, Dieter Weisshaar - who had just joined EASY in Germany as EASY Group CEO, and who was looking for someone to join the EASY UK subsidiary to take a leadership position there.

I met with Dieter who talked me through the company, its history, its products, and his vision for the next three years. And it quickly became clear to me that EASY had a very strong offer to the market - both in terms of its current product portfolio and the new products that are due to be released, plus its unusually strong and loyal customer base. Very quickly, my decision was made - that I wanted to join EASY, as the new role provides me some great opportunities to be part of what is, evolutionarily, the next step for EASY; to help it globalise into a single company across the world.

We've got multiple subsidiaries, but I think there's strength for the company and for our customers and partners if we can work more as a whole. So that's the plan moving forwards. It's exciting times at EASY Software, and I'm really looking forward to being part of the next chapter.

DM: Your background is Oracle, so a very different style of company. Based on all the time that you spent at Oracle, what experience do you see that you've gained there that would translate into the ECM/DM world and EASY?
AB: What I've learned from Oracle in particular is that you absolutely need great products: whether that's a line to a particular industry, a particular industry company set, or a government department; whether that's database or applications or systems or some combination of the three. Great products are critical for success in the software industry.

And those products have got to address a business need. It's no good just having great products, they've got to be delivered in a way that the buyers can see the value that they're going to be able to derive in their own companies.

Long gone are the days when projects are commissioned just to satisfy people's ego, or to jump on the latest bandwagon. Projects are commissioned based upon a quantified business case with payback measured in probably weeks or months, rather than years or tens of years. So actually, those products need to address real business needs, whether that's reduced cost or delivering regulatory compliance, reduced risk, increased sales, and so on. We've got to work hard at bringing these products to life, building the necessary stories that can help customers visualise the benefits that they can get from them.

And then, it's about the services that go alongside those products. We need to provide complete offerings, either from ourselves or from our partner community, who can provide reliable services at the right price point. We're also there when the customer needs us, so when they ring for support we need to be there for them.

So it's the whole lifecycle of that journey for the customer. All of those things are important and key learnings of my years in the enterprise IT space that I would look to be leveraging at EASY.

DM: And as we start to look into 2019, what do you see as the biggest opportunities for our space - and what are some of the biggest threats?
AB: Analysts see that the ECM marketplace at about $8bn currently with a growth rate in double digits, so it's a sizeable market and growing - and I think that growth is only going to increase, as companies and governments experience increased regulatory and competitive pressures (GDPR would be a good example). These pressures require companies and governments to review how they can make incremental improvements and EASY solutions can be part of the answer.

DM: Gartner has famously said ECM is an outdated term: where do you stand on the terminology used in our market?
AB: I have to say, ECM could mean so many different things to so many people, and without any context it doesn't have that deep a meaning for anyone. I think the important thing is what does that term mean for a specific industry or a specific company or a specific government department?

For me in this new role and new sector, what we need to try and do is bring ECM to life. What are the stories? What are the use cases where ECM, in whatever form it's taken, has driven real value for that customer? I think we need to start to change the language, if we can, and bring ECM to life with specific stories and use cases. DM: Turning to EASY's customers, how do you see the company's relationship with its UK customer base right now?
AB: We have a very loyal customer base. One of the first things I looked at was the retention rate of our customers, and it's very, very high - approaching 100%.

We also have some very strong brands in the UK on which to build. And that's replicated across the globe in Germany and US and other regions too. Customers love talking to other customers; they can share ideas, they can learn from each other. If we can facilitate that dialogue in some way, there's a lot of value for our new prospects and customers, and ultimately for us and our partners.

DM: In terms of its route to market EASY has relied on the channel over the years. What role do you see partners have going forward and what plans do you have for the partner channel for EASY in the UK?
AB: What I would like to do is to re-energise the channel, with specific focus on partners where there's mutual benefit for us to work with them moving forwards. I'd also like to seek out new partners who can work with us to take our newer propositions to marketplace.

For instance, we have a new offering called EASY HR which is a suite of products that would coexist alongside an ERP. Now we could go to technology partners to take that to market for us, but what I'd rather do is to recruit and onboard partners who have real deep domain experience and expertise in the HR space.

DM: Do you have personal goals in mind as to what you'd like to have achieved at EASY, whether it's in the first six months or the first year?
AB: Firstly I intend to meet more customers; to hear what they're saying, explore how they use our products today, ascertain what value they are getting and listen to how we can improve: what do they need us to do more - or less - of?

My second priority is the channel. I want to get the partner channel reinvigorated. I'm also keen to make a significant contribution to the globalisation of EASY as a group. As I said earlier, we operate as independent companies, and I think there are benefits for ourselves, our partners and our customer base if we operate as one single company.

Finally, I think companies and government departments haven't necessarily heard of EASY. So, let's make a little bit more noise, and in particular with the customer success stories and use cases, to help other customers understand a) who EASY are and b) what EASY and our products could do for them.
More info: www.easysoftware.co.uk

"ECM could mean so many different things to so many people, and without any context it doesn't have that deep a meaning for anyone. I think the important thing is what does that term mean for a specific industry or a specific company or a specific government department. For me in this new role and new sector, what we need to try and do is bring ECM to life. What are the stories? What are the use cases where ECM, in whatever form it's taken, has driven real value for that customer? I think we need to start to change the language, if we can, and bring ECM to life with specific stories and use cases."