Two years after quitting Nasdaq, can the company remain relevant?
It seems that in the lifecycle of the tech start-up going public has become obligatory – a high point in which a firm can pull in huge investment and attention.
What people should make of a company going private is more mysterious. For BMC Software the decision two years ago to quit the public market in a deal led by investment firms Bain Capital and Golden Gate was widely attributed to sluggish growth.
Since then the company has gone back to the fundamentals, investing heavily in research and development and shuffling the executive. The result, released this week, is Remedy 9, an IT service management platform that BMC hopes will restore its fortunes as a pure software company.
"The cool thing about being private is you’re not governed by the incredibly aggressive 90 day cycles that Wall Street holds you to," Jason Andrew, GM and VP of EMEA at BMC told CBR. "[When you’re public] if you want to change strategy or change direction you still have to do it under the 90 day share holder cycle."
For him at least the move away from public markets has been a success. Even after two years of development hibernation Andrew still thinks of itself as a "gorilla" in terms of cloud software platforms – by which he is trying to evoke size rather than oafishness.
Though BMC has remained active, Remedy 9 is the most significant release since the company quit the Nasdaq stock exchange, coming three years after its predecessor. In that time automation has become even more important in software, prompting many scare headlines about robots stealing our jobs.
"We have taken a much more user-centric design approach," said Andy Walker, advisory software consultant at BMC. This time his company has worked closely with customers to understand how they operate and what they want form the service.
What the developers found as they were building the product was that the role of individuals in companies is now changing faster. Such a trend means that IT needs to be more flexible and more mobile.
To this end, Remedy is aiming to be more robust and scaleable, as well as more frequently updated. Walker told CBR that BMC will aim to roll out major updates every three to four months, and also pointed at interface changes as evidence of the firm’s ambitions.
"It’s not just about providing an interactive interface, it’s about providing a more productive interface," he said.
Andrew concurred. "This isn’t something that’s been built in a factory and flung over a wall," he said. "It’s been developed over time with our customers."
Key to this is automating the everyday tasks that every IT admin quickly tires of dealing with such as provisioning services and dealing with the fool who has forgotten his password. The idea is to give staff the tools they need to solve their own problems and cut out the service desk.
As such BMC has included a smart reporting tool with Remedy, and put a greater focus on a "mobile, social approach", as Andrew puts it.
"I’d say there’s a fundamental change in the expectations of users," he added. "Recently they have been using Facebook to socialise, or Amazon to order goods, or Uber to order a taxi."
Unusually for a software company, BMC is agnostic on the cloud question. Whilst legacy firms struggle to move to the cloud and modern firms lambast their elders for peddling old technology, BMC appears genuinely not to care.
"I would say we don’t even start a conversation with: ‘Which way would you like to consume the solution?’" Andrew said. "Quite frankly it’s not something we get hung up on."
Compared to software vendors like Infor, which are enticing their customers to the cloud, and software-as-a-service evangelists like Salesforce this is a welcome point of view.
Whether it will serve BMC in this every more converged IT world remains to be seen. For now at least, the company has new logo, new product and revamped brand.