President and CEO
Phil Wilmington leads OutlookSoft down a path of growth in the booming performance management space.
Before joining OutlookSoft as president and CEO, Phil Wilmington was at the top of the enterprise software business. Closing in on 20 years in the industry, the last 12 at PeopleSoft, Wilmington had risen to be one of the last two co-presidents at the enterprise resource planning giant. That was until Oracle made good on its acquisition plans. Two years into his tenure at OutlookSoft, Wilmington recalls the heady ERP days and finds his old management style suits him just as well today. "You try to make it a great place for people to work, keep your eye on customer success, the trajectory of the company, and the rest of the things that seem important about building a business seem to really take care of themselves." In other words, Wilmington is back in the growth business he likes best, as DM Review Editorial Director Jim Ericson recently discovered.
DMR: What was it like shifting from enterprise software to the performance management space?
Phil Wilmington: Performance management is going through some of the same changes I recall from my early ERP days. The ERP space is pretty mature, dominated by a couple of players, and many if not all large companies run their organizations on some form of ERP. Companies spent millions and millions of dollars putting in transaction systems that process huge volumes of data very efficiently; ERP does a great job of what it was designed to do and nobody wants to trade that out. What ERP doesn't provide is ready access to the information it generates. That's a driver in the performance management space: how to optimize the investment that's already been made. You need to present information in some usable fashion with some decent analytic capabilities on the desktops of managers throughout the company, not to just a limited few with some unique products that run against the data warehouse. I equate my experience at OutlookSoft to the early days of ERP when there were best-of-breed players that began to put together suites of applications, and the suites became solution suites. The performance management space is growing in a similar fashion.
DMR: Much of the business intelligence (BI) discussion is now morphing into a discussion about performance management. BI implies reporting, performance management implies measurement, what's the difference?
PW: First of all, you are exactly right. BI has been evolving away from original data warehousing, tools and individual reporting where we collected data and then wrote our own applications and views of our performance. I think the performance management space is more of an application space, and with an application you drive the business logic and the business processes that are necessary to take a view of your performance in the marketplace. Initially it's done with your own data, but technology now allows us to measure against other industry data. You want to put the view of your own organization up against other data sources, other competitive information in the market. It's a much more comprehensive view of the performance of the company. It's not just a financial view; it's a unification of financial and operational data that draws a more complete picture. But the primary difference is that the performance management space is really evolving into another application space, not just a space where tools are used to write customized reports and views of performance. Companies understand they're not the only ones in the industry that need budgeting, planning and consolidation business process applications. There has to be best-in-class ways to do that; that's what they look to vendors to provide, and that's what we want to build the foundation of our performance management view on.
DMR: Doesn't operational performance management mean more intersections between data, integration and business processes?
PW: That is certainly the way we view it. Let's use budgeting as an example. When people talk about budgeting, they don't talk about it as an application; they talk about their process of budgeting. What do they need to do, what data do they need to capture, who do they need to get it to, what approvals are needed? This is the combination of what used to be workflow and what used to be data capture. It defines a process that ends up being the budgeting process for a company. What we're doing with our applications is relatively innovative. We have the business logic in the application itself, and then we package these business process flows we've been able to define through more than 600 implementations we've done in the budgeting space, for example, or in consolidation. Companies don't have to customize anymore. Through a configuration engine they can tailor the last 20 percent to meet their specific requirements with a best-in-class business process flow that is defined as part of performance management. Everything is on one unified platform, one set of data, one set of application code, and that platform is configured to meet the different business process flows that are identified as key components of business performance management.
DMR: Is process modeling an inherent part of performance management? Which part leads across process and performance?
PW: That's a great question I don't know if I'm smart enough to answer since the space is evolving right now in terms of what's going to lead change. A lot of consulting companies are interested because products are easier to implement. By that I mean, clients don't need big practices to implement performance management products, but they do require a lot of change management and process management change practices. Maybe there's a data point that says the definition of really efficient investment-class business processes with an identification of the proper performance metrics that have to be captured, reported on and secured by companies will lead that change. But we're really at an early stage. It will be an interesting story to follow.
DMR: The business process pure plays tend to look top down; data and performance management people more bottom up. How do you view it?
PW: This will sound like a convenient answer, but we're coming at it from the middle. We're attacking it from the business logic view that says there is a best-in-class way to do budgeting or consolidation, a best-in-class way to do customer retention analysis or product line profitability. These are processes that companies have identified and utilized; we deliver the application and configuration that allows them the business logic bridge to the data that's generated by the transaction systems. We optimize the technology investment on the desktop, provide access with just a browser and also with the full power of the Microsoft Office suite that people already use.
DMR: So it's going to be another productivity application?
PW: Performance management will be best utilized when you make it a part of what people do every day. Cingular is one of our customers, and one of their folks tells us that when the CFO comes in, he turns on his email and the OutlookSoft performance management system is right on his desktop, too. For the CFO and other line managers, that view of how the company is performing is in the mainstream of their daily thinking. The space will continue to be exciting if that is what's delivered, that it's not just analysis done by a limited few to project the future performance of the company. It needs to be something where the key drivers of the business are monitored by many stakeholders, and more importantly, where action is suggested by these solutions that can be taken to impact some part of performance before it deteriorates.
DMR: What do you think of the way the market is consolidating and shaking out around big and small vendors?
PW: I think there's a clear choice in the space right now. A lot of older players are focusing all their attention on trying to integrate their solutions, and there's not as much attention being paid to the players I believe are truly innovating in the space. Our space is growing aggressively, but I don't think longevity is a particular strength. I think leaders in the space should be defined as the companies that are delivering innovation to meet the needs of the customers. If customers take the time to search out innovation, they'll select newer ways of doing things with performance management, and companies like ours will continue to deliver.
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