Local CRM firm keen on IBM helping hand

Customer management software vendor Mathias could be relying heavily on IBM if it is to achieve its goal of rapid growth in its favoured market, blue-chip financial services.

Customer management software vendor Mathias could be relying heavily on IBM if it is to achieve its goal of rapid growth in its favoured market, blue-chip financial services.

Last year London-based Mathias Client Management Software (MCMS) set up the Mathias Technologies development arm in Newmarket, Auckland to create customer management and workflow software for US and European financial institutions. Mathias Technologies intends to have completed the J2EE version of its customer relationship management (CRM) product, ClientFirst, by June 30. ClientFirst works using Outlook or Lotus Notes as the front end of the bank’s client and workflow management software, storing additional client information in any compatible database.

But there are two problems facing the company, says visiting chairman Peter Mathias. The first is that the company’s clients are located on the other side of the world to its development house, when an “intimate connection” is needed. Even videoconferencing can’t quite bridge the gap. “It’s tough,” he acknowledges.

The second issue involves IBM. Mathias says IBM wants to sell workflow tools into the financial services market, and pairing ClientFirst with a proportion of the 45 million Lotus Notes users would be one way for the company to scale quickly. But to convince IBM to support the company and its technology, Mathias needs two successful implementations in Europe and one in Australia.

To answer both questions, the company is opening a sales office in Sydney and will target large Australian financial institutions, a market it had “historically not viewed as attractive”. This means the Auckland company, IBM — which has a financial services division in Australia — and customers can do business in roughly the same time zone and gain expertise with local clients. Mathias says Lotus CRM could be achieved in 90 days if IBM gave the go-ahead.

Mathias says MCMS didn’t want to be involved in implementations, so IBM or a Spanish firm will handle those. IBM New Zealand says the company’s Lotus specialist has spoken to Mathias Technologies informally on technical issues. IBM’s UK financial services division acknowledged last year that it had had some dealings with the company. A Mathias PR spokesman in Australia, Andrew Davies, says the companies have a global alliance, with much of the discussions between Lotus and Mathias coming out of Australia.

Mathias has a Notes implementation of the product in a division of Deutsche Bank.

Mathias Technologies chief executive Rodney Prescott says the company may look for New Zealand clients down the track.

The local company is still looking for at least two more senior developers to add to its 19 staff, ideally those with experience of large IT deployments.

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