FinancialForce, which early this year named veteran tech executive Tod Nielsen as its CEO, is bringing on another experienced industry hand to lead its marketing push.
Fred Studer, who is joining the San Francisco-base company as chief marketing officer this week, held the same position at security vendor Gigamon. Before that he was CMO at NetSuite, which is now part of Oracle. Studer also did stints at Microsoft (MSFT) and Oracle.
FinancialForce offers what is known as enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, a catch-all phrase encompassing manufacturing, inventory, and related business operations. ERP systems are seen as critical because they keep the manufacturing lines running and the shelves stocked.
Studer is a good choice, Nielsen tells Fortune, not only because he has worked in the ERP trenches for years at NetSuite, Oracle (ORCL), and Microsoft, but also because as a former controller, he has been on the buying side of the ERP sales pitch.
That means he can speak the customers’ language, Nielsen explains.
“ERP has become so jargon-heavy and complicated that it’s overwhelming for customers,” Nielsen says. “It’s like you’re building your house without an interior designer and have to go and pick out your own lights. There are too many choices. People want a more curated approach.”
FinancialForce is tightly aligned with Salesforce (CRM), the leader in salesforce automation and customer relationship management software. FinancialForce runs on the same basic Salesforce platform, so it needs build only the modules needed for functions it needs.
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Nielsen, who once led Salesforce’s Heroku group, knows that infrastructure well—but he is the first to admit he is not really an “ERP guy.” That’s why Nielsen hired Studer.
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The market is big: IDC estimates ERP revenues will exceed $68 billion over the next three years. But it is also fragmented.
“At the high end, you have Oracle, SAP, and maybe Workday, depending on the industry,” says Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst for Constellation Research, a market research firm. “One step below, you have NetSuite and Microsoft Dynamics. And at the very low-end, you have Quickbooks.”
Basically, FinancialForce fills the gap between the small to medium businesses and enterprise-sized customers, he noted.
That’s a prime opportunity for FinancialForce because Salesforce customers, Wang says, are unlikely to use SAP or Oracle.
Forrester Research (FORR) vice president and principal analyst Paul Hamerman says Studer’s experience with ERP and CRM will help FinancialForce grow. “Fred brings a customer-driven focus that aligns well with FinancialForce’s vision and deep integration with the Salesforce applications and platform,” he says via email.