Corel launches professional services

Ottawa-based Corel Corp. has become the latest company to take a shot at professional services.

According to the company, a team has already been assembled from existing Corel, Micrografx Inc. and SoftQuad Software Ltd. staff. The latter two companies were recently acquired by Corel.

The services group will support all of the company’s software offerings, including its XML tool XMetal, the WordPerfect Office suite, Corel Venture, CorelDraw, Designer and the iGrafx line of enterprise management software.

The new unit will provide a full range of services, including needs analysis, integration, training, deployment and support of the company’s software solutions. Corel says it will focus on the specific needs of enterprise, government and academic clients.

The announcement poses several challenges to a software company that has traditionally played in the home and small office environments and is now looking to make the leap into the enterprise space. However, a company spokesperson said Corel already has enterprise customers on board, and has for some time, most of whom came to the company through the acquisitions.

“Services are already being offered. We’ve been delivering these services as different companies for some time. We’re currently engaged with enterprise customers in delivering XML services, smart content and enterprise content solutions as well,” said Joe Sparks, the vice-president of professional services for Corel in Dallas.

He said it’s not Corel’s intention “to be all things to all people” in providing IT consulting services.

What remains unclear is how Corel expects to lure customers away from vendors who are already providing support or offer services running Corel’s software. One analyst said Corel is in for a rough ride.

“It has to be related to their core applications, it can’t just be ‘we’re going to do IT consulting (or) implement ERP solutions’, so it has to be a logical extension of what they already do. They’re going to find that there is some resistance in the marketplace not only from clients but partners too,” said Barbara Hall, senior analyst of consulting and integration for IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto.

Because Corel has not been a major player in the enterprise space, she said gaining entry into this crowded house won’t be easy, and it’s unlikely Corel will crack the top 10 of professional services firms over the next several years.

But Hall said Corel might find success in content management, the integration of its own software and in the hosting and maintenance of its applications. Sparks said Corel has no immediate plans to act as an application service provider to its software clients.

With the likes of PwC, Accenture, IBM and CGI already offering organizations professional services, it could be a long haul for Corel on yet another front, according to another industry observer.

“Is the runway long enough? Because one of the problems is what are you known as? It’s a branding issue,” said Herb Duncan, president for Fundy Computer Services in Saint John, N.B. And with Corel’s history in software, the transition will remain a challenge – despite the customers who are already on board. Corel’s motivation for moving into the professional services market is a pure “survival” tactic, Duncan said.