RightWorks aims to exploit e-biz

RightWorks Corp. President Jeff Carr has big plans for the San Jose, California provider of e-procurement and business exchange software, which later this month plans to air Version 7.0 of its software and later this year might even brave the IPO (initial public offering) waters if they get any friendlier. Carr and the rest of the team leading RightWorks' 400-person operation also aim to make the company one of the top two or three players in what he describes as a wide-open e-business software market. Carr spoke recently with Network World Executive News Editor Bob Brown.

NWW: Ariba Inc. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Keith Krach recently told me that his company doesn't see much of RightWorks in the field. Are you surprised he'd say that?

Carr: His sales organization clearly knows who we are. One of the things this [observation] points out is that Ariba, Oracle Corp., Commerce One Inc. and i2 Technologies Inc. all tend to migrate to the extreme high end of the marketplace. While we would not mind winning one or two of the big, high-publicity global exchanges, we're focused on the rest of the market -- private exchanges and, to some extent, the small and medium enterprise marketplace . . . Those big public exchange deals just suck the life force out of you in terms of resources.

NWW: What's your take on the state of the public e-marketplace industry?

Carr: These public marketplaces have dozens of challenges. Covisint [the automotive industry exchange], for example, is still looking for a CEO. When you pull businesses together that have traditionally competed, they want to share some data, but in terms of getting real traction in many cases, they're just up against a major uphill climb. Some will be successful just by sheer force of will. Meanwhile, a lot of companies that join these exchanges are still looking to build one or more private exchanges.

NWW: And that's where RightWorks comes in?

Carr: Any time we see an announcement of a public marketplace, we do two things. We go to each member of that exchange and look for an opportunity for a private marketplace that we could help them get up in a matter of months so they could show internal management a quick set of results. The other thing we do is approach the industry players that have not joined the public exchanges.

NWW: How does RightWorks' business break down?

Carr: We're at a 60 percent/40 percent zone in terms of business from e-procurement inside the firewall vs. marketplace/exchange/outside-the-firewall type of opportunities. That's a shift from 60 percent/40 percent the other way from last summer. We've also migrated much more to the Global 2000 from the dot-coms and market makers.

NWW: How does RightWorks differentiate its offerings from those of competitors?

Carr: We have an application on a single data model that offers procurement, marketplace, content and auction capabilities. Our competitors went public and took their market caps and did acquisitions. In a lot of cases they are focusing on integration and taking multiple code lines, data models, [graphical user interfaces] and architectures and trying to [blend] them. When customers start with us, whether they choose to start with a marketplace, private exchange or procurement, they can readily implement the other applications and use a lot of what they've already populated in terms of definitions, business rules and workflow.

NWW: With public companies such as Ariba and Commerce One having established themselves as the leaders in the business-to-business software market, how can RightWorks crash the party?

Carr: Krach says 93 percent of the Global 2000 has not made a procurement decision. But only a small percentage of those organizations have built out a private exchange. So we do think the market is very open, especially in the area of e-procurement.

NWW: Where do you most often see customers going wrong when building exchanges?

Carr: Customers tend to bring an application in and immediately tailor it to meet business requirements or a real or perceived gap. A lot of people in the [business-to-business] industry have felt that some of the other players have had a sort of land-grab mentality and were just out there planting flags at customer sites and issuing press releases. We encourage customers to go with our three-step methodology that emphasizes getting the system up and operating in eight to 10 weeks, showing quick results and getting the management team's commitment.

This story, "RightWorks aims to exploit e-biz " was originally published by Network World.

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