IT Factory is betting that two new high-profile executives will provide the company with the boost it needs to become a leader in the groupware market.
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In recent weeks, the Cambridge, Mass.-based firm, known for its Web-enabled applications and extensions for Lotus Notes, has added former Lotus Development Corp. CEO Jeff Papows to its board of directors and Tim Halvorsen, chief technology officer at Iris Associates, Inc., to its advisory board.
"Jeff's role is to bring business experience in the U.S. technology market to the board members and the senior management team... in helping us assess responsibilities in acquisitions as we go and look at the collaborative market," said David Shimberg, IT Factory's chief marketing officer.
"Tim comes to us with the ideal profile. He's been immersed in the collaboration space from the beginning. He was at the beginning for Iris, helping roll out Lotus Notes," Shimberg said. "Tim will play a pivotal role in helping define our technology direction, but we should be clear that he doesn't give us any particular insight relative to Lotus' technology direction that any other business partner wouldn't have."
Yet there is some question whether the moves to add Papows and Halvorsen were based on their potential contributions or solely because of their high-profile statuses.
"Both are possibilities," said Mark Levitt, an analyst with IDC, a market research firm in Framingham, Mass.
"Number one, they add credibility to the company in the groupware collaboration market. They also provide, in terms of Jeff, potential access to partners, and customers, and investors; and through Tim, access to his knowledge of technology in the Notes platform," said Levitt.
Shimberg said his company does not believe in signing a big name for the sake of having a figurehead.
"We don't have the bandwidth or the visibility to do that," he said. "We're trying to find the people whose style and skill can be available to us on a regular basis."
Shimberg believes their impact will greatly serve IT Factory on its path to becoming the leader in the collaborative e-business solutions space.
"That means providing collaborative business frameworks, CRM technology and related business solutions, bringing in the best collaborative services team... and extending business solutions beyond what they've been able to achieve to date," Shimberg said.
Levitt said the true impact Papows and Halvorsen will have on the company might be difficult to gauge.
"There's no hidden agenda. Board members provide advice. They provide connections, expertise, and to the degree they become active participants [in the company], may never be seen. That kind of activity remains behind the scenes," said Levitt.