Business leader interview with Claude Cosson; CEO of Perigee in France and previously SVP of international business at Fatwire.

 

Several years ago, we witnessed the stellar growth of many Web Content Management vendors along with considerable consolidation of this sector, including the pure play, portal vendors. More recently, we have seen the rise of a number of companies, active in developing solutions that render their clients’ marketing efforts much more effective.

One of the companies active in this sector for over a decade, is the French company, Perigee. Geert Kruiter, our VP for continental Europe, recently sat down with Claude Cosson, the CEO of Perigee, a veteran in the WCM sector, to learn more about this sector and the role of Perigee in it.
Claude, thank you for taking the time to share with us some of your experience and vision in the technology sector you have worked in for more than a decade. You joined Perigee 2 years ago after a successful period of developing international business at Fatwire.

 

1. Can you first share with us a bit of your background and why you have remained in this particular niche of the content management industry for so long?
I decided to leave Oracle back in 1996, having seen the first versions of Mosaic Web Browser that we were had been using internally since the end of 1993. I was convinced a revolution was about to start - and I wanted to be at its forefront. Hence, I joined one of the top two Internet start-up companies - Open Market. Although we were initially focused on e-commerce, during the course of 1998 we realised the e-commerce market was becoming sluggish, while Content Management was booming; we immediately changed our core business to Web Content Management by acquiring FutureTense, a WCM company. I spent the next 13 years cooperating with customers to forge, sell and support Content Management Software Solutions. The unique thing I observed was the incredibly fast pace of the market, moving from the pioneer, accidental publishers to recent corporate moves, using CMS to make brand management and multimedia their new strategic core component.

 

2. Can you tell us about Perigee’s primary products and services and about its key value proposition?

As with all software companies, Perigee is a unique mix of traditional IT skills and very strong merchandising skills. In other words, Perigee knows the best practices to assist our customers in selling their own products or services. We therefore concentrate on Marketing Content Management. The most important value we bring to our customers is in the deployment of native, multi-channel marketing or merchandizing reaches. We also help our customers build strong assets, such as Product Information Management, to either dramatically increase marketing skills throughout organizations or substantially reduce costs by streamlining and bringing under control Sales and Marketing Content Management cycles. This usually translates into 100%+ ROI and 2 year Paybacks.

 

3. What were the key challenges you faced when joining Perigee?
Any company such as Perigee has its own distinct culture and skills, often reinforced by the founders and by over 12 years of history. The first challenge is to make sure the existing ‘jewels’ are employed to best advantage as strong team-playing supports. This takes an incredible amount of time, attention to detail and good communication, but once in place, great results ensue.
From a business point of view, we are bringing Perigee to break even as it is the right thing to do for our future development and autonomy. Relentless effort is required, along with tough decision making and constant attention. Currently, almost every decision plays a role in reaching this goal.

 

4. Who do you perceive to be the main competitors in your market?
As Marketing Content Management players, we are positioned in a niche market. From time to time we come across companies such as Stibo Systems, that seem to have more of an MDM spin or Pindar, which seems to have deep roots in the print market. Even though we originally shared some common ground with them,  50% of our customers are now starting projects in various channels such as web, POS, mobiles emails and catalogues.

 

5. What dynamics do you perceive in the market in general?
The first dynamic we observe in the market has to do with native multi-channel. Whereas in the past customers always had one dominant channel and one or two "children" channels suffering from the dominant adaptations, clients are now considering new initiatives where channels can be as numerous as half a dozen and need to be all treated with the same weight and power.

A second dynamic is that our industry is about to go through a huge volume increase across three different areas. First, the new channels will mean that content publishing will increase at least 10 fold, especially taking into account deliveries to Facebook, Google Shopping, SEO or Shopping Search Engines. Another significant increase will be in sourcing volumes – A growing trend is for traditional manufacturing customers with maybe 10,000 products, to partner with other vendors and combine their offerings – often resulting in product numbers of up to 50,000. The third increase that will  eventually happen, is that we will see the Marketer and Merchandiser pace increasing, with a 6 fold Time To Market acceleration.

 

The market is also clamouring for reduced TCO and this is driving organisations towards Cloud and SaaS solutions. Surprisingly, revenue growth is rarely the first decision criterion. However, once customers have spent time listening to real stories and seeing real figures, it then becomes key.

 

Another major evolution is on its way. While in the past, vendors where tempted to create and invent most of the features themselves, there are now huge opportunities to either reuse Open Source components or third party software. Large players such as Adobe, Oracle or Quark have a key role here and Perigee already leverages some of their most innovative modules.

 

 

6. Perigee appears to be very much a French company. Being experienced in developing international markets, I assume you would plan to internationalize the business of Perigee. What are the main obstacles you would need to overcome to achieve this?
Perigee's largest installation is with French customers. However, because of our good customer relationships, we have sites up and running in the UK, The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Czech Republic, Mauritius, Spain and Italy, using our international versions.
Broadening our footprint is definitely an option we are pursuing; this is why we are looking for an industrial partner as a way to help us expand into other countries as quickly as possible and in a profitable manner.

 

7. What are the most important market developments and new opportunities you see in your technology sector? How are you preparing Perigee for such developments? 

Given the marketing and merchandizing practices, the volume and the new service requirements I outlined above, there is a crucial need to offer our solutions to customers as Cloud services.
The new channels, such as Facebook, SEO, Google Shopping etc. are also key for future business and for this reason, we have focused a significant proportion of our R&D budget on these technologies, delivering a first semantic, web based prototype to address them.

 

8. What would you estimate is the growth of the software sector aiming at Marketing Resource Management (MRM) and what will Perigee’s component be in that overall picture?

Perigee’s origins are in the Catalogue business, which has some Print connections. This is not the fastest growing market in our industry. Our new solutions will position Perigee and its customers in the middle of the new web and mobile channels, which are growing at double-digit rates.

 

9. Where do you expect to see Perigee in the next 3 years?

Extending the strong marketing and merchandizing skills, Perigee and its customers have developed in the past, to the new social, merchant, search and mobile channels is going to open up a significantly larger market for us. In the next two years, I see Perigee becoming one of the leading European vendors, specialized in large-scale industrial, native, multi-channel Marketing Resource Management.