Mincom sees strong future despite economic uncertainty

Despite a large portion of its install base being in the mining sector, which has taken a serious hit in the recent economic crisis, Mincom says it is in a strong position to cut deals and costs.

In April this year analyst firm Gartner issued a research note on Australian software giant Mincom following the appointment of Greg Clark as its new CEO, saying customers should, after three months, start getting a feel for the company's future direction, which had been “uncertain” since the departure of former CEO Richard Mathews and other senior managers.

Matthews announced his resignation last October, 10 months after Mincom was acquired by US venture capitalist firm Francisco Partners. He formally departed from his position earlier this year.

In an April research note, Gartner analysts Dan Miklovic and Kristian Steenstrup wrote: “Customers should not increase or decrease their investment significantly. Give Mincom time to put an experienced senior management team in place and articulate a strategy to the market. There is no reason for immediate concern, and at the end of 90 days, Gartner will see whether the progress and direction under the new management is consistent with what we believe is in the end-user communities’ best interests.”

Now, six months into his tenure, Clark is speaking publicly and with certainty, saying the necessary changes have been made with the result being an “outstanding management” team to lead the company forward.

Clark has hired from far and wide, and earlier this month he formally announced his new team:

Craig Jones was brought over from Oracle in Singapore to become executive vice president, worldwide field operations; Bruce Jacquemard is the new general manager for Mincom’s defence business and was recruited from Lockheed Martin in the US; Jennifer Tejada, chief strategy officer and executive vice president comes to the company with experience at Telecom New Zealand/AAPT and Proctor and Gamble; and Tom Shields is the executive vice president for global customer support services. Shields has already been in that role for a year.

“We have put a management team on the ground which I think is first class. We didn’t go get these guys because they couldn’t get jobs. They had some of the best jobs on the planet. And we got them here because there is a big opportunity for the next generation of Mincom,” he said.

Six months after posting his research note, Steenstrup said there is “less uncertainty” regarding the direction of the company.

“Whilst he [Clark] came into a difficult position of having to set a direction and replace senior staff, some of the pieces are coming in to place that will enable that to happen. Now that is not to give it a clean bill of health because we have not seen the execution of that. But he has put people in place that can support the execution of that.

However, Clark is upbeat. In particular, because he feels the asset management space and business process around asset management is big and very attractive.

“And Mincom can clearly define the future generation of this space and lead it,” he said.

“It is very well done here in Australia. Mincom is very powerful here. How can we get Mincom to be as powerful in every large Northern Hemisphere market? It is something that we are definitely after.”

Because of the nature of its product suite, Mincom has traditionally had a strong footprint in the mining sector, which is currently experiencing a downturn in the current economic crisis. Despite this Clark remained confident, saying it would only strengthen the company.

“We are an expense reducer. We take costs out of mines – mining operations, maintenance operations. So even in a recession it is a little easier to sell Mincom software. In a downturn they [mining operators] care about operational expense. We take out operational expense.”

He said historically Mincom has “cut” its bigger mining deals in economic downturns.

Other areas the company has significant business in are defence, utilities, government and transportation.

Clark also spoke about his renewed vigour relating to customer focus and the company being a lot more predictable.

“Mincom had challenges in the past on being able to make sure our large projects were executed on plan. We have tidied that all up now. Predictability is very important to us for our installed base.”

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