Partnering a must in this industry

Sybase Inc. needs to move from its traditional focus to one based on the e-business market and it’s looking to partners for help, according to president John Chen.

Chen told a group at the recent Techwave 2000 in Orlando, Fla., that Sybase is focusing firmly on partnerships and moving into the e-business world with its mobile applications.

Jim McCloskey, managing director for Sybase Canada, also sees value in this approach.

“Partnering is very good for us,” McCloskey said. “It’s more and more critical for the industry as a whole.”

He explained that customers today have shifted their focus from “I want to build these applications” to “I want to be able to plug in and go.” He noted the company has had to shift its strategy to match that.

“That is why working with partners is so important. It brings us to the customers more quickly, in a better fashion.”

Haridas Nair, senior group marketing manager for the company’s enterprise solutions division, noted time-to-market can be radically increased through partnership programs, and hopes Sybase will continue with this trend.

“In the partnership world we look for applications that enhance. If you buy our portal, that doesn’t mean you get all the applications – so we have gone out and partnered with people who make those applications.”

He added that Sybase tests all partnered technology in the lab first, so that integration goes well.

Brian Vink, vice-president of marketing for iAnywhere solutions at Sybase’s Waterloo, Ont., office, said other companies will look to Sybase’s mobile expertise and pursue partnerships.

He said, for example, they have an excellent Canadian partner who builds kiosks.

“If you went to the NHL All-Star game, there were these kiosks where you can go and get your picture taken with a ‘hockey player.’ That’s Sybase technology running in those kiosks,” Vink said.

He added they also work with some Canadian retailers and government agencies including Statistics Canada.

Winnipeg-based LANGUI Systems, which created an evaluation system for the Canadian Air Force, partnered with Sybase to design the system.

LANGUI used Sybase’s Enterprise Application Server and PowerBuilder to deploy the Web-based system, according to Joe Coady, president of LANGUI.

“The PowerBuilder application enables training co-ordinators to simply enter the specific tasks included in a certain course and the type of survey to be conducted,” he said.

The application then creates a database of questions and appropriate answer choices. The questionnaire is then copied and linked via the server. Coady said this application will also help supervisors write reports and post them to the CAF intranet site.

Dave Wolf, principal architect for Sybase, said customers appreciate the time to market that partnering allows. “I think they also appreciate the mind share. These are companies that are going to be betting on you, and they like to see that others have done the same.”

He also noted that partnering allows companies to ensure their product contains best-of-breed products.

“Take some features that are almost enterprise-class features. There are other vendors that are best-of-breed in that field and that’s not an area we should chase after. We should partner,” Wolf said.

David Jacobson, director of product marketing for the enterprise solutions division, agreed partnering gives companies an opportunity to sell products in a different way.

“You want a system that’s reliable. If it’s home-built, the five guys who built it may leave the company and you’re left trying to find five new guys to run your system. You’re held hostage by your own internal developers,” Jacobson said. “In this situation you’ve got best practices architecture, which means if those guys leave, you can still run your system.”