SunGard has made redundant members of the Enterprise Data Management (EDM) group within its Enterprise Solutions Group – Marc Odho and Rob Ord – as well as a small number of people from within the FAME business unit as part of a streamlining exercise. While the shedding of such high profile data experts has prompted observers to question the software giant’s commitment to the data management business, SunGard insists that the decision in no way reflects a lessening of its focus on this space.
The trimming of the data business unit is part of an effort to streamline following growth by acquisition, says Janet Crowley, president of SunGard FAME and referencePoint, while the departures of Odho and Ord come as SunGard’s focus shifts from analysing the EDM opportunity to executing on the strategy now in place, she says.
“The departures of Marc Odho and Rob Ord from the EDM group really do not signal any drastic change in SunGard’s strategy in this area,” Crowley told Reference Data Review. “The EDM group is part of SunGard’s Enterprise Solutions Group, which is really where the company positions people to focus their attention on understanding a marketplace in order to help SunGard’s senior management formulate strategies to address it. On the EDM side that has been in place for some years, and the work has really been done.” The vendor has brought additional expertise into the actual business unit, she says – she cites the decision to keep on former Soliton CEO Nazir Noormohamed, following SunGard’s acquisition of its TimeSquare business – “so the knowledge base is strong”. SunGard continues to invest in its data product, and “it is now time to execute, to deliver and sell our services for EDM”. These changes “made sense at this point in time”, Crowley adds.
The redundancies from the FAME business unit are the result of SunGard having carried out a “typical budgeting exercise” for 2007. “We did an organisational review with a third party and they looked at the company and told us we could become a little more efficient,” she says. “Similarly to SunGard as a whole, the FAME business has grown by acquisition, and is an amalgamation of three of four different companies. Until now, we had not stepped back and looked to ascertain whether we were structured to be the most efficient we could be. We were a little heavy in places, and we have now addressed that.”
Industry observers have speculated that the business unit redundancies are the result of the “India effect” kicking in. Crowley says her business is making “aggressive use” of SunGard’s India based resources. “We have a team of 30 there now and that will grow to 40 or 45 in 2007. We continue to build our resource there, not just developers but business analysts as well.” This will not necessarily lead to further headcount reductions in the US and Europe, she adds, because the India resource is being deployed to “cope with growth”.
It is no secret that SunGard’s ambitions in the managed reference data services space have been slow to come to fruition – as have the similar ambitions of competing providers. This has not been helped by the withdrawal of the Banc of America Securities and proposed Dresdner outsourcing deals. Crowley says SunGard’s ongoing commitment to this business also remains strong. “For years, we have run our SiteServer and ASP operations which provide data management services for hundreds of clients,” she comments, “so we have staff that are knowledgeable on all the different data sets coming in from various vendors, and that is our core foundation. We are taking time to ensure our software is multi-client capable, to enable our clients to really benefit from the cost savings everyone is talking about being possible through these managed data services.” SunGard is focusing on ensuring the performance and robustness of the system to support its outsourcing proposition, Crowley says: a release in November and one to come in February will deliver enhanced performance and functionality to this end.
In addition, “further acquisitions are absolutely on the cards”, according to Crowley. “We continue to look at where we can find solutions complementary to ours, with features we have not yet built, for example loaders. There are a couple of other potential acquisitions we are looking at now.”