Mathias confident despite slowdown

Auckland customer management software developer Mathias Technologies is behind target in hiring the number of programmers it planned to, but the company is still confident about its chances in the region.

Auckland customer management software developer Mathias Technologies is behind target in hiring the number of programmers it planned to, but the company is still confident about its chances in the region.

Mathias planned to have hired 30 development staff in Auckland a few months after its set-up in September. Half of the 30 were ideally to be what the company described as “black belt” programmers, those with 10 years’ experience, and all should be handy in technologies such as Java and object orientation. The company’s staff count is about 18, mainly full-timers.

But Mathias chief executive Rodney Prescott says the company, part of a larger concern with CRM (customer relationship management) and consultancy arms in London and Arizona, has been slowed by the dot-com crash and September 11 aftermath only inasmuch as larger business are looking harder at budgets and taking longer over decisions. Processes such as due diligence in the financial institutions it is targeting are often taking, for example, 12 months instead of six.

Another factor behind not hiring more staff is that it is “reasonably hard” attracting the right people, Prescott says. He says the company offers “competitive” salaries but believes a lot of the “really good” people are still overseas. He has located some top-grade staff locally, and a few migrants, though talk in September of people in the UK arm migrating to New Zealand had resulted in only one moving down and another couple opting to stay in London, he says.

Despite caution in the market, Prescott says large institutions in the region are more positive. Prospects have increased, he claims, partly because companies are keen to extract maximum value out of existing investments and Mathias’ products don’t necessarily displace existing CRM software. The company’s products, which link closely with email clients such as Microsoft Outlook, can “overlay” existing CRM systems using XML-based middleware and a database synchonisation tools.

The local development arm, based in Newmarket, is busy creating documentation, product toolkits, sample applications and development interfaces for environments such as Java, DB2, AIX, Solaris, Oracle, Linux and Windows, as well as cementing relationships with sales partners like IBM, he says. A Spanish partner of Mathias is building a sample for a private banking firm and one bank in Australia is looking at a pilot, Prescott says.

In September the company spoke about targeting the “5% niche” market of large global banks and professional services companies.

Mathias Technologies is doing development for UK-based CRM firm MCMS, the sister company of consulting company Mathias and Co led by Arizona-based Peter Mathias, whose CV claims 20 years’ experience in the financial services industry.

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