Reinventing Progress Software—Boston’s Next Billion-Dollar Company?
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waiting for too long. Maybe we should have started a year or two sooner.
X: What do you want the Progress Software brand to represent now?
RR: Going forward, okay, we’ve got all this stuff, now how do you simplify? We have a product that allows customers to get visibility into their infrastructure. We have other products that allow them to sense and respond to events as they occur. Then there is implementing the business processes themselves. If you have visibility, and you can sense and respond to what’s going on, and based on that you can dynamically change your business process, we call this overall benefit “operational responsiveness.” See, think, and act.
So those are three three categories of products: business transaction management, complex event processing, and business process management. We think that a combined category will emerge at some point in the future that includes all of these—visualizing, analyzing, and acting. The best name we have for it right now is “business event and process management.”
I should be clear—you don’t have to buy all these products together. You can buy them separately and combine them. Progress Software’s strategy going forward is to be the company that brings operational responsiveness to business.
X: How about some examples of how these capabilities would help specific industries?
RR: You can think of a number of verticals—financial services, transportation, and logistics. One very hot trend in financial services right now is that everybody up to President Obama is talking about concerns about high-frequency algorithmic trading. The concern is that this puts a lot of institutions at risk. So one of the solutions that Progress has been working on with customers in the banking community is real-time market surveillance. This means actually detecting patterns that indicate insider trading and market abuse and being able to stop that before it affects the market.
Traditionally, you might find out that something nefarious had gone on months afterward, by looking through a database with analytics software. But if this even moved the market by even one percentage point, think of all the money that has changed hands that you can’t unwind. So we’ve been working with regulators and banks to gain visibility on that data. First we have to see all the exchanges and the data flowing into them, to be able to sense and respond to patterns that indicate insider trading and market abuse. For example, was there anybody trading at greater than 300 percent of their usual volume in a public instrument within 5 seconds before a news article came out with some information? When you get that kind of data, you need to invoke business processes to automatically cross-reference it with past cases. Has this happened before? Is there some pattern to indicate this might not be just a one-off? You can create business processes to raise alerts and manage them and discover trends and patterns.
I can also give you an example from the transport and logistics industry. We have been working with customers from all over the world. One is Royal Dirkzwager, a Dutch logistics company that manages the container ports in Rotterdam. There’s a lot of complex thinking going on there about the availability of berths and docks in the ports. But what has happened for the last 100 years is that a ship might radio ahead and say “Okay, I’m going to arrive at 2:00 p.m.,” and some crusty old geezer on the dockside with binoculars would look for the ship. There is tremendous waste for the shipping lines; let’s say you steam at full speed to make it to the port but then there isn’t a berth for you. You burned all that fuel unnecessarily. But you can gain visibility on events in ports, and on the allocation of ships. You can potentially track every ship in the world and relate it to the availability of ports and docks and manpower and resources, then you can send real-time course and speed changes to ships to get them to the right port at the right time and optimize the use of those resources. That’s saving millions of dollars every year for Royal Dirkzwager.
Coming tomorrow in Part 2: Perspectives from Progress chief technology officer John Bates; what it means to be an anchor technology company in the Boston region; how the company’s acquisition strategy has evolved; and whether Progress itself might be an acquisition target.
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