After 17 years with IBM and a stint at Siebel, Tom Hogan joined content management firm Vignette in 2001. He took the reigns as chief executive last July.
During his recent visit to London vnunet.com caught up with Hogan to hear why he believes content management is now more important for firms than ever.
It is just over a year since you became chief executive at Vignette. What are your priorities for the firm?
I'm keen to raise our profile. I honestly believe we are the industry's best-kept secret. We power the websites for some of the most brand-conscious businesses out there, across all sectors. I want people to understand what makes the Vignette approach unique.
We're keen to progress the idea that we're not just about content management anymore. If I talk to 100 chief information officers and ask them if they need more digitised content or information, it's not just a 'No', it's a 'Hell, no!'
They've got information coming from websites, intranets, inside and outside the firewall, from their Siebel systems, SAP systems. They don't need more information, they need a way to filter, extract and render structured and unstructured data dynamically and present it in a meaningful way for users.
With EMC buying Documentum, there has been talk of consolidation within the content management market. How does this affect Vignette?
Well, you hear that Oracle wants to grow through purchases. And I think the fact that Documentum has been bought up by a storage firms tells you a lot. There are a lot of people beginning to understand the value of content management, and want to get into it.
But where we stand apart, through our relationships with firms like Autonomy, is that we not only provide a way to capture unstructured data, but we can deliver only the information that the end user needs.
And because we're an independent firm we transcend all different architectures and can filter information from SAP systems, Microsoft email clients, whatever. I think that's a real strength for us.
Recent financial regulations have increased the interest in being able to audit information. What role do you see for content management in this?
When Sarbanes-Oxley was passed, it suddenly struck CEOs that they could be going to prison so suddenly they care about this sort of thing. And as soon as they got interested, 1,000 different suppliers sprung up offering to make you compliant.
We haven't felt the need to go out and push a Vignette compliance module; I'm quietly confidant that the market will come to us. When people start to see these guys who thought they were covered get busted, then people are going to sit up and take notice.
A lot of these products coming onto the market claim to make you compliant with Sarbanes-Oxley, but they are just empty. They can't capture that email from the legal department, they can't give you insight into the information leaving your business, they just archive stuff. When people realise they need to capture structured and unstructured information and be able to provide context, then I believe they'll come to Vignette.
Vignette has also been busy acquiring companies over the last year. What has been the rational behind that?
In December 2002 we bought Epicentric, and have also since acquired Revenio. We're expecting to close our deal for Intraspect this month. So tying together the various pieces that we've bought is not insignificant for us.
But when we do acquisitions, we're not just doing it for financial accretion or PR. We take our time, make sure potential targets are addressing enterprise-class software, and are architecturally a very tight fit. That way there's a very rapid time frame to develop a fully integrated product.
We've got $262m in cash and are operating at break even, so I think we're in a string position. I think it's likely that we'll look at further acquisitions.
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