Prophix may not be well known as a product in Europe but it is a significant player in the CPM space with around 1800 customers in 80 countries. Gary Simon, Financial Systems News’ managing editor, met briefly with Paul Barber, Prophix CEO, who was travelling through London to find out little more about this company that appears to hide its ‘light under a bushel’.
Prophix is a full range CPM (Corporate Performance Management) vendor, so its applications cover budgeting, planning and forecasting, financial consolidation, reporting, analysis, scorecards, dashboards and so on. Paul Barber, has been immersed in the performance management space for around 30 years – so we were quickly able to reminisce about DSS (Decision Support Systems) and EIS (Executive Information Systems) – terms that have long ago fallen out of favour. Nevertheless, his long track record in the industry and ability to steer a company through all of the vagaries of the market over 25 years speaks volumes for his knowledge and vision.
Paul Barber acknowledges that Prophix is not necessarily the most exciting of companies but it is very well grounded. It regularly tops other companies in the space with the quality of its customer references. I rather discourteously dismissed Barber’s comment that “potential CPM customers should ask vendors for 10 references then throw these away and ask for another 10” - but he means it. Prophix trades off its reputation, i.e. word of mouth which explains how it has grown without a huge public profile. Oh and it doesn’t owe a bean to anybody else. It has grown organically, without venture capital and remains in private hands. I like what I am hearing.
So apart from the slightly old fashioned notion of listening to its customers why else is Prophix successful? Well you won’t find the company at the ‘bleeding edge’ of technology but it should not be regarded as a laggard either. The latest iteration of the product, Prophix 10 is a thoroughbred based on the Microsoft technology stack – which includes Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, SharePoint, Microsoft Office and even Microsoft Dynamics.
Daniel Mason, Prophix’s UK manager, (also at the meeting) points out the advantages of the Microsoft stack when running detailed planning. “You have got the advantages of holding vast amounts of data in a relational store and the ability to use a multi-dimensional analysis tool (Analysis Services) at the same time,” he says. “This can be important to organisations that want to budget down to the level of an individual employee or stock item,” he adds.
So where is Prophix’s sweet spot? This is where things become interesting because Prophix is unashamedly mid-market – with a leaning towards the upper mid-market. The emphasis appears to be on good functionality (no gimmicks), customer service and affordability. Three essentials in the marketplace the company has chosen for itself.
So what about the ‘light under a bushel’ bit? It is the consolidation system that is a stand-out feature, particularly in the current market that may be looking for a replacement for Hyperion Enterprise. The mid-market is very definitely under-served by competent yet affordable financial consolidation systems. Most of the current offerings are clearly aimed at larger enterprises and the recent rash of Cloud vendors has failed to make a real dent in the consolidation space. That leaves Prophix 10 almost out on its own – a view confirmed by Daniel Mason who is seeing a large uptick in UK companies seeking a consolidation solution.
It is rare for software companies to be experiencing strong growth in the current market but Paul Barber says that Prophix has grown organically by 40 percent in the last year. It may not be a well known company but in the race of the ‘Hare and the Tortoise’, just remember who won. Prophix is definitely one to put on FSN’s watch list.
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