You might say beating higher-ranked competitors comes naturally to Alan Trefler, who first displayed the tendency as a 19-year-old World Open chess champion and continues to do so as founder and CEO of Pegasystems and Public Company CEO of the Year in 2011, according to the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council. His latest conquest, currently underway, could be the CRM, business process management and decision-management space, particularly in the telecom vertical.
Trefler and company are hosting a 2,000 attendee-strong user conference this week in Dallas. After delivering his opening keynote address where Trefler described how Pegasystems and its customers were moving to the rhythm of success, and how he, after 29 years at the helm of the company he founded strives to deliver outcomes rather than technology, he sat down with B/OSS editor Tim McElligott to discuss Pega's fast growth in the telecom sector.
B/OSS: Pegasystems has been successful in other vertical markets for a while. Why did you decide to go harder after the telecom sector now?
Alan Trefler: [Telecom] is a large industry and in many places there is saturation, which puts increased pressure on service and increased pressure on retention. Those are things we do extremely well. It is a business that has grown up meaningfully through mergers so there are a lot of ugly back-end processes in play that we should be able to wrap and make better. Also, it is a place where there is generally a low level of customer satisfaction. Being able to improve customer satisfaction is also something we do quite well. Time to market is also very important. We believed telecom would be an extremely good fit for our type of technology and it has turned out to be.
B/OSS: Has it grown as fast as anticipated?
AT: It has grown quite fast. I think telecoms tend to be fairly skeptical buyers, so we have really had to demonstrate our value to get the likes of Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Verizon to sign up with us. We proved ourselves and now that we have, we are seeing a lot of interest from other players that are looking to catch up.
Our scale references are exceptional. We weren't some little software company that was dabbling in the low end. We have always been at the high end of the industry. But now that we have the names and references we have. People know us. Scale from our standpoint is a huge differentiator as well as from an architectural standpoint. The whole culture of our company is built around large, complicated, distributed enterprises that are doing pretty mission-critical things, which is very much like telecom.
B/OSS: Is it as lucrative as you thought?
AT: Even better.