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July 24, 1999
Looking Beyond Year 2000, SEEC Takes Bold Strides
A P Kamath
Many months before the year 1999 was to start, Ravindra Koka reminisces, he and his team at SEEC had felt strongly that the survival and prosperity of the firm could never be served by short term targets.
"Fixing the year 2000 problems was an inviting opportunity," says Koka, the president and CEO of the Pittsburgh-based firm. "But we had to look way beyond 2000 solutions."
Thus the fiscal year 1999 was a year of significant transition for SEEC, he says. "It represents a critical transformation of SEEC as one of the leading year 2000 solution providers to SEEC as a post-2000, e-business solutions vendor."
Koka and his team believe they were among the first to expect the decline in the year 2000 market and knew that despite the SEEC's new ventures, in some way the 2000 year market decline would affect its ability to deliver strong revenue and earnings in fiscal 1999.
SEEC provides solutions that help organizations transform mission-critical mainframe systems into e-business. Its solutions include acclaimed software products and services that have saved significant time and cost for over 150 Fortune 1000 companies. The SEEC's technology frees data for easy Internet access to allow clients to keep pace with today's e-business world.
Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, SEEC was recognized in 1998 as one of the fastest growing technology companies in the region, with an increasing customer base of larger, global organizations. With over 135 employees worldwide, SEEC has regional offices located in Chicago, Illinois; Cincinnati, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; North Andover, Maryland and Washington DC.
International offices are in the United Kingdom, Germany, India, Singapore, and Korea.
"Even the enterprise software sector -- including ERP vendors -- felt the effects of what is being called the 'Y2K freeze' phenomenon, causing companies in this sector to experience lower-than-anticipated growth," Koka, who in recent months has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal and several other high profile publications, says.
"In spite of this, SEEC has been able to reposition itself as an e-business solutions provider," he continues. "And it has completed a significant portion of the R&D for our post-year 2000 products and, in April of 1999, unveiled our e-business solutions to the public."
He and his top team players have known for a long time that changing mainframe systems into e-business would provide vast opportunities, Koka says.
This week, SEEC announced an agreement to acquire the Mozart Systems Corp., a leading developer of Web-enablement products for rapid implementation of e-business applications. Alan Parnass, founder and chief executive of Mozart, is joining the SEEC as vice president of Web solutions. SEEC expects the acquisition to close within 30 days.
"This acquisition puts SEEC in the forefront of the market for Web-enabling customer information systems for financial services companies, telecommunications providers and other large organizations," says Koka.
Mozart is a pioneer in the e-business market, with broad experience creating Web-based applications for Fortune 1000 companies like Transamerica Occidental Life and Western and Southern Life. Mozart's technology demonstrates the clear benefits of doing business via the Web, including improved customer service and lower transaction costs. Its track record, reputation and customer base will help jump-start SEEC's Web solutions strategy."
Says Parnass: "SEEC and Mozart make an excellent fit that will provide great benefit to our customers. I look forward to joining the SEEC team and to helping the company achieve the immense potential of our combined resources."
The acquisition of California-based Mozart would make SEEC one of the most promising firms in Pittsburgh, business analysts believe.
"While the Internet may have changed today's business landscape, the information systems and processes that businesses support cannot keep pace," he says. "These systems were not designed for the quick, flexible interactions needed to interact with the Web."
"Yet over 70 per cent of corporate data still reside in legacy databases, and critical business operations are supported by transactions processing via the mainframe. Because of this potentially harmful disconnect, an estimate by International Data Corporation indicates that between 1999 and 2003, companies will spend $ 305 billion to $ 2.2 trillion on transforming these business processes and information systems."
SEEC has introduced products and solutions to address this emerging market. "We have extended our flexible core technology so customers can now access legacy data and business rules via the Web, re-architecting current information systems and readying them for e-business. SEEC's e-business solutions improve maintainability, modernize mainframe systems, and significantly reduce ownership costs, " Koka explains.
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