Confusion reigns as CA extends 3x6 strategy

Computer Associates adds three more brands to range six months after ‘simplifying’ product range.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  February 3, 2002

|~||~||~|Computer Associates (CA) spent much of 2001 positioning itself as a serious e-business player. However, due to the size of CA's software portfolio — at last count it had something in the range of 1200 products — the vendor has struggled to deliver a simplified marketing message for its product range. Whereas, IBM coined the phase 'e-business' to summarise the company's business standing, CA came up with its 3x6 strategy.

Last summer, CA unveiled its 3x6 strategy to analysts, press and end users alike to a largely mixed reaction. Running in parallel, CA also embarked on a concerted push to group its enormous product range around recognisable brands — Unicenter for the infrastructure management products, e-Trust for its security products, BrightStor for its storage range and all the information management products were grouped under the Jasmine brand.

At the time, Bloor Research attacked the strategy, claiming that it was "very diffuse and difficult to understand." Furthermore the report stated that CA's core products have little in the way of a connecting theme.

Herb Vanhook, senior vice president, Meta Group also criticised the strategy saying "final product alignment and packaging wasn't there yet."
Six months later, and CA has again expanded to its 3x6 strategy as it attempts to increase the market share of its information management (IM) products. The vendor has added another three brands to its IM range.

CA's range of portal and enterprise/business intelligence products are now being re-branded as CleverPath. The application lifecycle management products have been gathered under the AllFusion brand and the vendor's range of application development, integration and reporting tools are now to be called Advantage. Jasmine will now just represent CA's object orientated database products.

Denying that the addition of more brands further complicates CA's product range, Abdul Karim Riyaz, Computer Associates' Middle East marketing manager, claims the vendor is releasing a more detailed "definition of the information management category."

"The Jasmine brand gave tremendous visibility to our IM products. We decided that we needed to clearly showcase our strengths in this area... we have decided to evolve the Jasmine brand into several areas," he adds.

Additional efforts to segment its product portfolio will — CA hopes — generate greater local momentum for its IM products, which have enjoyed limited success in the region. For the most part CA's business in the region has been based around its Unicenter and e-Trust security products.

According to Riyaz, over the last six months CA has received a good response to its e-business product range. Going forward, e-business products, such as the Advantage Integration Server — formally the Jasmine Integration Server — and CleverPath portal products are going to be priorities for CA's local office.

There are signs that at least some of CA's locally installed base are looking to use CA's e-business tools. Saudi-based Al Jubail Petrochemical Company (KEMYA) has already tackled the management headaches of a rapidly growing client/server environment with the deployment of Unicenter's Advanced Helpdesk and Network Management module during 2000.

Towards the end of last year, the polyethylene manufacturer began experimenting with CA's Jasmine technologies. The project, which is still in the planning stages, aims to deliver an enterprise portal, to enable the management to have access to vital operating information quickly.

"We would like to use Jasmine on the process planning side of the business," says Mansour Al Natter, network security administrator, KEMYA.

"We want to put all the information in front of the managers. Instead of having an everyday report printed and put in front of each manager, we want to know what is going on in the business. That will give him an idea of the performance of the plant or his particular area very quickly," explains Al Natter.

However, before CA evolves into a local e-business powerhouse, it still has to address issues of training and product localisation. Speaking to ACN at CA World, mid-way through last year, Dan van der Westhuizen pledged a 'significant training initiative.'
To date it is still not clear how far the vendor has progressed with its training initiative.

"We are augmenting our team by recruiting more staff in certain areas, as well as partnering with key third-party service organisations, which can provide us high quality deliverables," explains Riyaz.

"We are also focusing on the training of existing staff and bringing in technical resources from our other regional offices — South Africa being the nearest — when it becomes necessary. We have recently completed internal training for our staff, as well as resellers, in our Dubai training centre. More sessions are planned in the near future," he adds.

On the subject of localisation CA remains typically vague, once more saying that localisation is "driven by market demand."||**||

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