I know that this sort of statement makes me sound old, but it’s amazing that some things in the past seem like they happened only yesterday. It was in 1991 that Monarch software (for DOS) first appeared, on two 5 ¼ inch floppy disks, or a 3 ½ inch floppy if you were able to use one of those new devices. This was to be a very important product, and it would prove to lead the way for a young company named Datawatch Corporation.
Allow me to fast forward to 2011, and to the introduction of another leader. On February 14, 2011 Datawatch Corporation announced that Mr. Michael Morrison was the company’s new president and chief executive officer. In the past year, Datawatch has undertaken many changes and has shown significant growth, and not just in terms of revenues. The stock price has skyrocketed, reflecting investor confidence in the dealings of the company. A new version of the company’s flagship Monarch software was released, and —along with a Datawatch customer – was a winner of Ventana Research’s 2011 Leadership Awards.
Today, just over a year later, I’m pleased to welcome to Mr. Morrison to ExcelWithMonarch.com for an exclusive interview.
SC: Why did you want to join the Datawatch team?
MM: I saw in Datawatch a company with a great product portfolio, a passionate – and extensive – customer base, and an emerging market opportunity that I believed to be very big. Since I have been on board, all of these observations have been validated. Our Monarch family of products is a truly differentiated solution that delivers real ROI. Our customers are zealots, and some of our most influential supporters. And the market opportunity for our report analytics solutions is even bigger than I initially anticipated.
SC: Time flies. Congratulations on your first anniversary at the helm of Datawatch! How has the past year been for you and Datawatch?
MM: For me personally, it has been a very enjoyable year. I have had the opportunity to work with a terrific group of people and meet with a number of our customers and partners. We experienced a lot of change as we embarked on transforming Datawatch to a high growth company – and change is always difficult at some level. Nevertheless, our employees, our customers and our partners persevered and are leading from the front in this company transformation. The past year has been very good for Datawatch as well. The company is now on a growth trajectory. The financial markets have taken note of us. And industry analysts are paying attention to us again. All in all, it’s been a solid start for Datawatch in getting to a high-growth revenue model.
SC: Fiscal 2011 ended on a very positive note for Datawatch, but you really knocked it out of the park, as they say, with the Q1 FY2012 results. How did Datawatch achieve such a terrific quarterly result?
MM: Our Q1 FY12 results reflect our new go-to-market model, our new market positioning and the contributions of many of the new sales people that joined Datawatch in the past year. One good quarter doesn’t make for a trend, but it’s a positive momentum builder for us.
SC: In 2011, ExcelWithMonarch.com had readers in over 120 countries. Globally, it seems to me that there continues to be a need to easily acquire data and convert it into meaningful, actionable information. With offices around the world, does Datawatch also see this need?
MM: Absolutely. Access to and the ability to analyze corporate data is a universal problem. Despite decades of advances in business intelligence technologies, reporting is still broken. There is a ‘blind spot’ in reporting and analytics that Datawatch uniquely addresses. On one end of the data analytics spectrum, you have structured data, addressed by the traditional business intelligence solutions. On the other end, you have unstructured data, with an ever-increasing number of ‘Big Data’ vendors playing in that space. In between the two exists semi-structured and loosely structured data. Datawatch is the only company that solves the problem of analyzing that data in the middle.
Our ability to make information from diverse data sources and formats accessible, usable and valuable is unmatched. There is a global need for our solution and we are investing in our international operations to meet this need.
SC: I know that Monarch is offered in the English, German and French languages. With such worldwide interest in the product, has offering the product in other languages been considered?
MM: We are presently evaluating Spanish and Portuguese. As opportunities arise that require other languages, we will evaluate which ones make business sense. Our goal is to bring our Monarch report analytics solutions to as many people as possible.
SC: It seems that in North America, there are many opportunities to sell Datawatch solutions as a great method to extend the useful life of a customer’s legacy information system. But outside of North America, companies seem much more inclined to replace their older information systems altogether with integrated applications. Does Datawatch encounter this situation, and if so, how do the approaches to sales differ?
MM: We see many varied use cases around the world, and do see some differences between North America and Europe in dealing with legacy systems. That said, even with the more modern transaction systems, we have customers using our technology to enable end users to be more self-sufficient and reduce the burden on IT. And every organization has to deal with reports and business documents that come into the organization from third parties. Even the most technologically and operationally advanced organizations struggle with incorporating report data from outside their four walls. On a related note, over the past year we have completely revamped our go-to-market model, which includes addressing the needs of local markets around the world. Our approach – regardless of geography – is to always engage the prospect and learn their unique pain points and specific data analytics needs. This allows us to assess how Monarch can help them. Even with the more modern transaction systems, we have customers using our technology to enable end users to be more self-sufficient and reduce the burden on IT. Another major factor is the integration and analysis of data coming into organizations from external sources. Even the most technologically and operationally advanced organizations struggle with incorporating data from outside their IT infrastructure and our technology plays a major role here for many Fortune 500 customers.
SC: Clearly the primary focus here at ExcelWithMonarch.com is your flagship Monarch product. Can you take a moment to tell the readers a bit about the role that Monarch plays in your suite of products, and how the skills that they develop with Monarch may be beneficial when moving to your other solutions?
MM: Monarch is the robust modeling engine for our Monarch Report Analytics platform. The Monarch Report Analytics platform also includes the capabilities to automate and validate the acquisition of data for the Monarch models (Monarch Data Pump) and the capabilities to distribute and archive the resulting Monarch reports in a secure, web-based, self-service analytic environment (Monarch Enterprise Server). Monarch Report Manager on Demand and Monarch Report Mining server offer the additional capabilities to archive and manage high volume reports and business documents and perform rich analytics on this stored content. The Monarch Report Analytics platform takes data from semi-structured and loosely structured diverse data sources and makes this information accessible, usable and valuable.
SC: My personal experience is that people tend to initially expect that Monarch is a tool for the Finance and Accounting group. Are you finding that Monarch is used primarily in that arena, or have other groups adopted it as well?
MM: We have many Monarch users in the office of finance. However, use of Monarch extends literally across the entire enterprise. We see many use cases in human resources, marketing, sales, procurement, IT and more. The elegance of Monarch and its ease of use make it an ideal solution for any business analyst.
SC: Clearly the need for more sophisticated and larger scale solutions increases with the size of the customer’s organization. Can you talk about some of the solutions that Datawatch offers larger customers?
MM: Our larger enterprise customers use the Monarch Report Analytics platform to address a variety of business challenges across all departments. Some specific examples include procure to pay (automating the matching of purchase orders to invoices to bills of lading), e-presentment (delivering settlement statements and commission statements to individual brokers generated by mainframe transaction systems) and audit analytics (performing forensics and reconciliations on a variety of internal and external reports).
SC: Datawatch has announced many new partnering arrangements over the last year. Will you be working towards developing more of these arrangements?
MM: A key element of our high growth strategy is aggressively expanding our partner ecosystem. We are engaging with implementation and reselling partners, OEM partners, geographic distributors and strategic alliance partners around the world. We have implemented a partner friendly business model that makes doing business with Datawatch easy and profitable for partners.
SC: My son happens to be entering high school next year, and in looking at his options recently, I was shocked at the business and computing classes that are available to young students today. Have you considered offering Monarch software to schools to introduce students to the benefits of the tool and familiarize them with your company, not unlike the strategy implemented by Apple Inc.?
MM: We make Monarch available to academic institutions today and intend to more broadly formalize this program for academic use of Monarch in the coming months.
SC: Speaking of education, many professional groups involved in everything from accounting to zoology have for many years now used certification to help market themselves as experts in their field. Indeed, certification markets not only the individual, but the field of expertise itself. Does Datawatch currently have any plans to implement such a programme for your users?
MM: Yes. We are currently developing a certification program for users of our Monarch solutions. Stay tuned for more details.
SC: Automation of Monarch processes has always been a focus point on ExcelWithMonarch.com, and has been appearing more and more of late on your MonarchForums.com. Do the automation features tend to assist sales of the software, or is it at times a distraction when proposing other scalable solutions?
MM: The automation capabilities in Monarch are being used in ways that we never intended and, at times, have led to issues with deployments and data fidelity. The automation capabilities in Monarch Data Pump and Monarch Enterprise Server are much more appropriate for business applications. We will continue to stress the value in automating your report analytic solutions with these enterprise offerings.
SC: Many have commented over recent years that the official Programmer’s Guide hasn’t been updated since it was released for Monarch v8. Will an updated Programmer’s Guide be published for Monarch v11? And on a related note, will there be an update to the Functions Reference Guide, which was last updated for Monarch v9?
MM: We do not intend to continue publishing a Programmer’s Guide. The Functions Reference Guide has been updated and is available on our website.
SC: Many software companies seem be jumping on the “cloud” bandwagon of late. Aside from Monarch Enterprise Server, does Datawatch envision a cloud-based, or perhaps a browser-based, Monarch offering?
MM: We do not have any current plans for a cloud-based or browser-based Monarch offering.
SC: Some foretell of a possible demise of green bar reporting, based on the proliferation of systems capable of PDF output. Given your experience in the marketplace, and an ever-growing list of PDF reader software, do you see Datawatch’s niche changing in regards to Monarch’s functionality to respond to marketplace changes? Simultaneously, how do you continue to further the status of Monarch as the “go-to” tool in all offices?
MM: Mainframe green bar reports are only a small fraction of the data sources that our customers access with Monarch. The sources and formats of reports that our customers can access with the Monarch Report Analytics platform are extensive: text, PDFs, Excel files, SQL databases, HTML, EDI streams, log files, business documents stored in a content management system, etc. In essence, the PDF output of current systems is really just another container for the same old “standard reports” we used to print. A G/L or Trial Balance looks just the same in PDF as on a mainframe green bar report – just with better fonts. Our ability to consume PDF in the same way as text reports means we bring our core competency to bear, which is the easy, end user-driven access, parsing, extraction and analysis of semi-structured business documents. As the market evolves, and new diverse data sources and formats become more relevant, Datawatch will continue to innovate to address the changing needs of the market. Our 20 years of experience and extensive customer base give us a great knowledge base from which to deliver to meet the demands of the market.
SC: In past years, we’ve seen announcements from Datawatch concerning acquisitions of companies and their products and technologies. Can you tell us a bit about what has happened with some of those products and technologies?
MM: The most important acquisition was Clearstory and the BDS solution. Last year, we re-branded this solution as Monarch Report Manager on Demand (RMOD). RMOD is a high volume report management and archive solution that is being used in some of the world’s largest organizations. Together, with our Monarch Report Mining Server solution, we offer the only end-to-end report management and mining solution in the market. RMOD has become an integral component of our overall Report Analytics offering.
SC: Thank you very much for your time and for sharing your thoughts with us today, Mr. Morrison. I hope that 2012 becomes a breakthrough year for Datawatch.
MM: Sandy, thank you for taking the time to speak with me. And thanks for your long-time support of Datawatch and Monarch. You are a great evangelist and advocate.
A Winning Team Is No Accident
Thanks again to Mr. Morrison for granting this interview and taking time out of his busy schedule. And thanks to all of the Datawatch team, who continue to develop new tools and solutions that enable all of us to excel with Monarch.