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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Interview with Tom Dibble, CEO of Aria Systems (Part 6)

Posted on Thursday, Jul 25th 2013

Sramana Mitra: What enterprise resource planning systems do you integrate with most often?

Tom Dibble: SAP and Oracle are the two biggest as far as market share is concerned. We have customers that are using Aria in conjunction with both of those on a regular basis. We also have customers who use NetSuite and also some homegrown ERP systems.

SM: What industries are seeing the maximum adoption of the systems you are supporting or enabling?

TD: We have three focused industries for Aria. These are the ones we think are moving the fastest right now. First and foremost is the technology sector itself – the holistic cloud stack. That goes from SaaS all the way down to platform as a service and infrastructure as a service. There are many cloud service providers looking at this market from multiple angles. Those are typically the earliest adopters of new technology paradigms. That segment is very comfortable adopting new solutions to enable or overhaul an existing model.

The second is the telecom market. It is a market we call emerging telecom – either new telecom services from existing large telecom carriers or new telecom companies altogether. Maybe they are launching VoIP services, streaming services, or any new types of collaboration services. That is the second largest industry vertical for us.

The third is what we call new media – whether that is entertainment, publications, any type of new content, etc. That is a huge market for us.

SM: In terms of your competition, whom do you consider your top competitor? Whom do you see in deals mostly?

TD: Either the legacy business support system providers that have historically sold telco billing – Amdocs, Comverse, CFG, etc. To a lesser extent, the ERP incumbents that are trying to retrofit their system that is supporting a subscription or recurring revenue initiative.

SM: So Oracle and SAP have comparable functionality at this point?

TD: No, they don’t. They have very basic invoicing capability that is native in an ERP system. We have seen some IT organizations trying to go in and rework that invoicing capability that is native in an ERP implementation to support a subscription initiative. Almost invariably they give out and say, “This is just not agile enough. Even if we support phase one of the initiative, the flexibility is not there as we iterate on this model.” Downmarket,  in the SMB sector, we see a variety of other pure SaaS players. We are not in that market as much, but selectively we still do some transactions in that market for high-growth companies like HootSuite. There is a lot of fragmentation in the market for SMB subscription models.

SM: What about open problems that you would encourage entrepreneurs to look at?

TD: I can’t say enough about the importance of having customer success near and dear to your heart as a company. I think everybody gets consumed with building marketing and a brand, having reach and messaging, but if you don’t have a key set of referenceable customers that are enterprises and that say, “Hey listen, I have tried this technology, it works, it has enabled my business and made me look very successful in driving this business,” everything else is an effort in vain. When you are selling a mission-critical technology to large enterprises, you have to have those lighthouse accounts. To listen closely to what they need, how they are using it, and how you can iterate your technology and be more innovative in your product to support their needs is essential. The other things will come naturally.

I think we are going back to a best-in-class mentality, where many of these large enterprises want the best solutions. We are done with these trends of people thinking who the single vendor is going to be and we are back to, “I want the best technology for my needs – if that means I need to buy it from multiple vendors, so be it.” That creates a huge opportunity for companies that are helping stitch together a lot of these solutions from an integration standpoint whether that is manifested in single sign-on applications or in middleware capabilities that are connecting many of these applications inside the enterprise. That is now becoming standard operating procedure for these companies.

SM: Are those service opportunities or product opportunities?

TD: They are absolutely product opportunities. Naturally there are service elements to it. But what you are seeing from other players in the space, such as MuleSoft or Boomi, and what you are seeing from some of these SI firms, building out practices that help with best-of-breed solutions, particularly best-to-breed cloud solutions, is something I think is gaining tremendous velocity right now. I see more and more enterprises adopt these solutions.

SM: Thank you, Tom.

TD: Thank you, Sramana.

This segment is part 6 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Interview with Tom Dibble, CEO of Aria Systems
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