At the CA World 2004 event in Las Vegas, vnunet.com spoke to Ken Cron, interim chief executive at Computer Associates.
Cron was appointed on 26 April following the resignation from the board of Sanjay Kumar, now chief software architect. Cron talked to vnunet.com about his plans to move the company on in his first 100 days as interim chief executive.
What are the biggest challenges currently facing CA?
There are a number of challenges and opportunities. The company investigation into past accounting practices is now closed and the company is looking to move ahead. The government investigation continues, and we are co-operating. That said, we believe we can have a resolution.
During my tenure we are going to continue the advances we've made in customer relations. We've made great strides in this area. Product development has also grown a lot tighter and become better integrated in the past few years.
Is CA heading into this year's CA World event with a stronger or weaker senior management team than before last year's event?
Our commitment is to grow the management team. Sanjay [Kumar] being here as chief software architect is a benefit to the company. He is an important corporate asset and will continue to guide product strategy and communicate product vision to customers.
I'd like to think I add value. Lou Ranieri [chairman] adds a wealth of talent and experience. Mark Barrenechea [senior vice president, product development] has done a great job taking over research and development.
We have Yogesh Gupta as chief technology officer, and Greg Corgan has stepped up to head sales and brings his IBM experience. Jeff Clarke [chief financial officer and chief operating officer] has a done a fantastic job at HP and Compaq and made a real impact here already.
Because of the additional people, we have added value and strengthened the senior management team.
Sanjay Kumar now reports to you. What are you asking him to achieve?
Sanjay is going to help guide product strategy and vision. He has great market expertise and relations with the market. I've challenged Sanjay to bring that expertise to our customers and to bring back that information to Yogesh Gupta, Mark Barrenechea and Russ Artzt [executive vice president, eTrust solutions] to help decide where CA is going.
Sanjay is our guy on the outside bringing back information from our customers so that CA can help them better. Mark, Russ and Yogesh will develop the products.
What do you consider to be CA's three key strengths?
Number one is the people. I've been a director here since August 2002 but, and I'll be open with you, you don't know what to expect when you come in. But when you see [our staff working], it's clear they are incredibly enthusiastic and committed to the company.
Number two is products and technology. Our products are high-value, mission-critical, important and intertwined with our customers' businesses. We have a survey where 96 per cent of our customers say CA software is either important or mission critical to the business. Our products are second to none.
The market is starting to enter the age of management software. IT managers need this type of software to utilise their assets to meet their business needs. Partly by design, and partly because that's where we are, the company is uniquely positioned for the age of management software.
Our customer base is the third asset - 95 per cent of Fortune 500 companies use CA software. When these companies and large government institutions say that CA software is mission critical to their business then that customer base is phenomenal.
What are the weaknesses the company needs to address?
Weaknesses are also opportunities. There is room to drive continued performance improvements in the company. We can take continued strides to develop new product sets with better integration creating higher value.
The company will also continue to evolve its organisation in both indirect and direct sales for a better alignment with the market.
There are also new business activities. We will be more inquisitive about looking at opportunities, including businesses and companies. We will be looking to be more assertive and we will be looking at all opportunities.
Does this include acquiring emerging talent in the open source market?
Open source is incredibly important to CA. There will be some really interesting news on this at CA World this week.
How much of your time is spent looking for your successor?
That's the board's job not mine, which is the way I wanted it. It's my job to lead the company.
What are the key qualities CA is looking for in its future chief executive?
The board will have some qualifications and specifications for the job but they are not complete yet. We'll talk about that at a later time. The search is actively underway.
Why aren't you a candidate for the chief executive's job full time?
My interest, my relationship, with CA has been as a board member. I agreed to take the [chief executive] job on an interim basis. The board knows I will be here as long as it takes for them to find a replacement. It's not within my plans to make it a permanent position. When the appointment is made I will revert to being a director.
What message do you want customers, partners and staff to leave CA World with?
It's all one message: CA is strong and we're ready to move forward. We have great people, great products and great customers. We're ready to put our software at the centre of their business and make our customers the centre of what we do.
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