Informix chief executive Phil White assured customers yesterday that he has listened to a "necessary wake-up call", and announced plans to overhaul the ailing database company and axe staff who are not making a contribution to its recovery.
In a letter to customers, White pledges that the company has learned its lesson and will correct the practices that have left it facing "substantial" losses of up to $100 million in its first quarter results, scheduled to be officially announced on Monday. While insisting that the company is still in good shape, he admitted: "It?s clear to me and to all of us here that Informix has just received an important and necessary wake-up call."
White?s response to that call is to identify areas that produce less revenue than their expense levels justify, and to cut them back to what he calls "a reasonable size". Certain Informix offices will also be closed and staff provided with "alternative ways...to accomplish their work". A spokesman was unable to comment on speculation that plans for a new corporate headquarters in California would now be scrapped.
Informix personnel will come under scrutiny. "We?re going to look at performance more critically," warned White. "Where people are not pulling their load, we?re going to ask them to leave the business." The company spokesman insisted that White was not intending to make large scale layoffs but was unable to say how and when evaluations of staff would take place.
Management at the company has been shuffled, with certain senior executives winning added responsibility - although others are expected to resign shortly.
Mike Saranga, vice president of product management and development, will assume responsibility for customer service as well as making the coordination of product mangement and marketing a top priority. Brett Bachman, general manager of enterprise products, will report to Saranga.
In the US, responsibility for both the direct sales organisation and the channels and partners group willfall to Martin Brauns, vice president for north Amercian sales, although the company spokesman did not believe this structure would be replicated in Europe. Earlier this month, White identified Europe as being the worst geographic region in terms of the overall sales shortfall suffered by the company.
The management of relationships with systems integrators, Vars and distributors will be made the responsibility of field sales directors. Training, consulting and Informix? advanced technology group will fall under the wing of Ken Coulter, executive vice president of field operations, in a bid to involve staff in these areas in the sales process.
In marked contrast to recent Informix announcements and presentations, the company?s Universal Server object-relational database is mentioned only once, and just in passing, in White?s letter, while the Dynamic Scalable Archuecture is highighted prominently. The company spokesman denied that this was a deliberate refocusing on the company?s established technology, although White has admitted that the company has neglected these products and suffered as a result and there have been recent conflicting report about future product strategies (see previous story).
In this letter, White conceded that that company had become carried away with its new objec- relational products. "We become enamoured of our technology," he said. "While there?s nothing inherently wrong with that...with the benefit of hindsight, we see that we weren?t as focused as we needed to be on meeting our customers needs. As an organisation, we?ve lacked focus and become too fragmented in our approach to the marketplace."
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