Auckland-based IT services and consulting company Crossware has traditionally been associated with IBM, due to the company’s long-standing relationship. That’s about to change.
Crossware is working on a major rebranding, to be announced mid-March, which will include a change of name and a move away from simply being known for its Crossware Mail Signature flagship product and its relationship with IBM Lotus Domino.
The company is building on its relationship with Microsoft (they became Microsoft partners in 2008) to expand its platform support beyond IBM Lotus Domino to include Microsoft Exchange and the cloud. Crossware’s founder and managing director Per Andersen believes this move will more than triple the company’s potential market.
The ultimate goal is to become platform-agnostic. To do this, the company is taking a step beyond simply providing software to actually creating an on-premise appliance that will mean customers can deploy Crossware either on-premise or in the cloud. “Customers using non-IBM and Microsoft technologies that are seeking an on-premise solution will be able to use an ‘appliance’ version of the software which will be compatible with all platforms,” says Andersen. “Microsoft New Zealand has already been pro-active and we are in discussions with them about integration with their popular Exchange and Office 365 technology,” he adds.
The appliance is being developed by Crossware’s own team of developers in Auckland and will be sold worldwide through the company’s network of partners. According to Andersen, this will also involve an increase in headcount in the Auckland office, with the team of developers growing from the current three to possibly six in the coming months.
Paul Graham, Crossware’s general manager, says the company has decided to rebrand and has secured a new dotcom domain that will be rolled out along with a “new brand promise, website and social media strategy”. The company is also heavily investing in product development, with “major improvements to usability and functionality that will allow our customers to create amazing looking brand-aligned emails,” says Graham.
For Andersen, the move beyond Lotus Domino was a logical one. He says there is “a limit to the number of customers” using the IBM product and estimates that there are “probably around 50,000 companies using Lotus Notes”. “We want at least five percent of that,” he says. According to the managing director, the number of companies using Lotus Notes in New Zealand has been decreasing and says a lot of those companies are shifting their emails into the cloud. “This is about expanding our business,” says Andersen.
The company has brought five new resellers on board in the past few months, bringing the total number up to 75 resellers worldwide. A new channel manager has also been appointed by the company. In addition to this, the team is getting ready to add another world location to their contacts list, with a new office to open in the UK mid-year. The expansion plans also include an increase in staff headcount at its existing US office, allowing Crossware to provide 24/7 support to both customers and partners.
All these changes will be followed by what the company describes as “an aggressive marketing campaign”, with the focus shifting away from solely attending IBM conferences, as Crossware has been doing until now, to conferences where they can engage with CEOs, CMOs and CIOs. “This will include major marketing conferences such as Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity,” says Graham. The company has, in fact, already lined up attendance to a number of international events this year, in locations including Australia, Belgium, the US, and Germany, among others.
Andersen says the first couple of months of 2012 have brought strong growth to Crossware and the company is showing no signs of slowing down.
Crossware was founded by Per Andersen in Auckland in 1999, as a traditional IBM reseller, focussing on services. The company has since created its own CRM system, along with its flagship email-signature product, which has gathered over 400 customers worldwide. The product is now sold in 33 countries, while the company’s CRM system is in place in New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan and China. In New Zealand, the company has some big names as customers as well, including Ricoh, Honda, Suzuki, McConnell Dowell and Vero, among others.