R. “Ray” Wang made his reputation as a software analyst at Forrester Research Inc. Last year, however, he left the global consulting company to join the Altimeter Group where he authors the enterprise software blog, “A Software Insider’s Point of View.”
As a software analyst, Mr. Wang advises technology sellers on how to enter new markets and buyers on pricing, licensing agreements and support and maintenance policies that they may need.
“He helps companies renegotiate license agreements,” Gert Adolphsen, a co-founder and executive vice president of the Alpharetta-based software developer Stonebranch Inc., told GlobalAtlanta in a telephone interview.
The company also has offices in Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom and Spain, and develops a wide variety of workload management, file transfer and job scheduling software solutions.
Mr. Wang is to be the keynote speaker at the company’s annual “Innovation Europe” conference to be held this year Aug. 19-20 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
The conference has a tradition of inviting top software authorities as speakers. But what if Mr. Wang convinces Stonebranch’s clients among the invited guests to renegotiate their contracts with their host?
Mr. Adolphsen obviously had expected the question and didn’t miss a beat in his response.
“We’re actually so confident in our offerings and our pricing and our terms that we feel it actually is in our interest to bring him to our client base and allow our customers to sign up for one-on-one meetings with him,” he said with a slight trace of his native Danish accent.
Mr. Adolphsen is one of the company’s three founders, who as a group define themselves as entrepreneurs, and they have proceeded with a keen awareness for weighing the risks and taking advantage of downturns in their markets.
For instance, when they launched Stonebranch in 1999, the market for their software was virtually nil, Mr. Adolphsen said. “We are entrepreneurs at heart and we thought that now is the right time to do it,” he added.
That was the year for “Y2K remediation,” he said, referring the Year 2000 problem for computer programs that were to be affected by the roll over of dates at the beginning of a new century.
The expected cataclysm did not occur, and companies were once again focusing on their processes. Having taken advantage of the hiatus for development, Stonebranch was ready for them with a new line of products.
Sept. 11, 2001, also gave them an impetus. As the economy staggered from the destruction of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, companies were focused on their bottom lines and thinking about “synergies and efficiencies,” Mr. Adolphsen recalled.
Stonebranch, once again, was well placed with cost-cutting software in which companies were willing to invest.
More recently, as data breaches have occurred, Stonebranch is ready with helpful security software.
Mr. Adolphsen traced the origins of the company to his meeting Wolfgang Bothe, one of the co-founders and the current CEO of Stonebranch, in 1989 when they were both working for a German software company based in Berlin.
Mr. Bothe was sent over to take charge of its U.S. subsidiary when it opened in Roswell. Nathan Hammond, the other co-founder who currently is Stonebranch’s chief technology officer, was hired as the lead software architect.
The rest is history with the triumvirate deciding to strike out on their own through an acquisition that they got with their own funding.
Although based in Alpharetta, they also have a European headquarters in Hanover, Germany. Slightly more than half of their 180-plus employees work in Europe and they have maintained relationships with clients dating back to their days with the German software company.
“It’s easier for us to sell in Europe,” Mr. Adolphsen said. “There are less personnel fluctuations in Europe. Sometimes things are slower, but it’s the same people year after year. Customers don’t forget when you sell ‘mission critical’ software.”
The pace of turnover in the U.S. of chief information officers, critical decision-markers from his perspective, is far more rapid than in Europe, he said.
He added that the company also has benefited over the years from the gap in currency exchange rates, which have made the software development less expensive in the U.S. and sales more remunerative in Europe.
According to Mr. Adolphsen, they have been able to capture larger market shares for their products in the Benelux countries, Denmark and Germany.
The financial services, health care companies and data centers that are their “sweet spot” are more closely knit in European countries and it is easier for Stonebranch to reach their goal of 20 percent of a certain market there than in the U.S. “These people talk to each other more than in the U.S.,” he said. “And they think that if their competitors are using these products then we better do the same.”
They also have many U.S. clients as well such as Ace Hardware Corp. and Saks Fifth Ave. and are considering expanding into South America.
Mr. Adolphsen expects clients from both sides of the Atlantic to attend the Amsterdam conference, which is being held at the same time as the Sail Amsterdam festival featuring the Tall Ships.
Sail Amsterdam has become a once-in-every-five-year tradition since 1975 when it was launched to celebrate Amsterdam’s 700-year anniversary.
The company is hosting its clients on the Sanne Sophia, one of the participating large, traditionally rigged vessels that will sail from the port city of Ijmuiden, Netherlands, to Amsterdam via the North Sea Canal the evening of Thursday, Aug. 19.
Mr. Wang is expected on board, meeting amicably with Stonebranch’s clients and other invitees.
For more information about Stonebranch and Sail Amsterdam event, go to www.stonebranch.com.