President and COO
WHY HE’S A CHAMPION OF THE NEW ECONOMY
Taking advantage of the global economic recession in the fall of 2008, Bob Paul, president and COO of Compuware Corp. in Detroit, overhauled the company’s management team and re-engineered key operations to take advantage of growth markets in mobile devices, cloud-computing, and certain IT sectors. Paul also has helped steer the longtime provider of software products and professional IT services toward a net income of between $25 million and $35 million quarter after quarter, despite a sluggish economic turnaround in Michigan and the rest of the country.
Health care IT has been a growth market for Compuware. How much of the demand has been created by a real need for efficiency as opposed to meeting new regulations in the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare)?
One drives the other. Compliance issues drove the initial impetus of health care IT, but the rollout awakened many people to the power of technology as it related to improving quality of care, boosting efficiency, and lowering costs. Large health care organizations, governments, and medical centers are all embracing health care IT. That’s been a boon to two areas of our operations — business core performance management and Covisint [our supplier network]. The activity has really picked up over the last six months because of the federal compliance and the funding that goes with it. The backing will continue for the next two to three years.
As the mainframe market continues to mature, how do you balance the company’s resources with meeting rising demand for mobile device applications and services?
The mainframe market is very mature, and most of the growth is based on increased capacity. There aren’t a lot of new strategic initiatives there. Our job is to make sure our products are running as efficiently as possible, that our existing products and services are current, and that we’re investing in new markets and growth markets. It’s a balancing act, but you can’t afford to stand still.
How do you meet the challenge of achieving greater productivity with fewer resources?
Part of the transformation of Compuware in recent months was to align the organization very specifically around customer value goals that create greater efficiency. We recently formed six business units that allow us to be much more responsive to quickly changing business needs. It’s all about promptly providing solutions to our clients, especially as technology changes so rapidly.
How has Compuware been able to leverage cloud-computing to boost the bottom line?
We use the cloud for lowering our cost of [computing time] and boosting our flexibility. It also represents a massive market opportunity for us. Cloud-computing has made us a fast-growing IT organization again. We allow companies to have visibility into their application performance all the way through the cloud to their internal data centers. One big problem when people move out to the cloud is that they loose visibility. We’re the only company in the world that provides one dashboard across the entire Web and cloud environment. We’re seeing dramatic growth in that sector and, as a result, our share price has been rising.
What are the strongest growth markets for Compuware over the next five years?
The industry sectors that are leveraging cloud-computing the most, along with Web applications, are retail, financial services, manufacturing, and health care. That’s where I see growth coming, and we’re very active in all of those sectors. If you look at General Motors, for example, they have a lot of Web-based applications that are moving on to mobile devices. I can start my car with my mobile device or check any number of performance issues, and that’s only the beginning. We do a lot of work for GM’s OnStar division in that regard.
Will Compuware play a role in getting to the singularity — the point at which artificial intelligence surpasses human brainpower?
Our goal is to provide instantaneous answers through predictive analytics as to where IT problems are occurring and what needs to be done to solve them. This is a big field because of the Web and cloud-computing, and another trend called virtualization. IT has become more complex, and if we can deliver answers to problems before they occur, it will obviously be in the best interest of our clients.