New Apps, Management Software Seeping In as Old Industries Digitize

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businesses. Kronos and Dynatrace, for their parts, are established companies with track records that help them land customers. Kronos was founded in 1977, has some 4,000 employees, and spends about $100 million a year on technology and innovation, says Malysa O’Connor, a marketing director at the company. Dynatrace, meanwhile, was acquired and spun back out by Detroit-based Compuware, and now has about 1,700 employees and $450 million in projected annual revenue.

But smaller startups might have a tougher time gaining traction in older markets. Boston-based Objective Logistics, for example, had some similarities to Kronos in terms of offering workforce-related software—though more on the performance-tracking and gamification side. The startup raised venture capital to go after customers in the restaurant and retail markets, but it didn’t take off and was sold to cybersecurity firm Bit9 earlier this year.

Swipely, based in Providence, RI, has also been going after restaurants and small retailers with its marketing and analytics software for credit-card transactions. The company went through some layoffs in May, although it said it continues to grow.

Customer size ultimately may be the key to success for software companies. Small, local businesses typically don’t have the time or money to spend on software products. But going after bigger customers typically requires an experienced sales team, as well as clear and demonstrated metrics around the benefits of any new software.

Dynatrace CEO John Van Siclen (right) and CMO Nicolas Robbe (left).

Dynatrace CEO John Van Siclen (right) and CMO Nicolas Robbe (left).

So, companies like Dynatrace need to continually evolve their offerings to stay relevant. Van Siclen says his team is creating a “digital experience center”—similar to a network operations center (a room for monitoring networks), but less technical and more business oriented. “The next step is from data presentation to problem presentation,” he says, referring to what the product should display to customers. “Once they trust the data, they want the top three resolutions.”

No matter how traditional the industry, Van Siclen and others are finding that managers and business leaders need answers from their software—and they need them fast. “Five years ago, it was OK to drill down for half an hour to find a problem,” he says. “Now, they don’t want to even look.”

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