Crossing the chasm
New Teradata president wants to make a dent in federal market
Teradata, a subsidiary of NCR, is well-regarded among data warehouse vendors. Analysts say the company's technologies are sound, and its success in the commercial sector is unquestionable. But a robust government business has so far been out of reach.
That's something that Leslee Gault, the new president and chief executive officer of NCR Government Systems' Teradata Division, plans to change. Since Gault was hired in November 2004, she's been working to turn the company's success with customers such as Wal-Mart and SBC into a success story for government contracts.
"We really haven't been able to translate that [commercial success] into the government sector," she said. "We think the time is right."
Teradata's federal customers include the Air Force, Navy and U.S. Postal Service. The company also works with some state governments. But Gault sees more potential.
"The government is looking for ways to analyze and share data," she said. "Policy is changing around that. Money is being given to those areas." That makes the Homeland Security Department and federal law enforcement agencies a fertile market, she said.
"What I'd like to do is take what we've done with the Air Force and expand it," she said. "We don't really have a presence in the intelligence community. We're not doing anything with DHS."
To capitalize on those priorities in government, Gault has begun expanding the company's staff, particularly in sales. The people who worked in the Teradata Division when she arrived were "extremely talented at talking about data warehousing," she said.
"What we were missing, and what we're looking to fill now, are people with mission knowledge," she added.
She's also strengthening the company's partnerships with systems integrators.
Gault came to Teradata from Unisys, where she served as vice president and executive sales director for defense and intelligence business.
She may be on the right track, said Mike Schiff, vice president of data warehousing and business intelligence at Current Analysis. Teradata's problems, he said, have nothing to do with its technology.
The challenge for Teradata officials, Schiff said, is getting the message across. When they announced the latest version of the company's flagship product, Warehouse 8.0, in October 2004, they did so at their own user conference on a Friday morning, one of the worst times of the week to generate publicity, he said.
"If you're a customer who happened to be at that conference, it was pretty well covered," he said. But anyone else might not know it had been released.
"Their competitors certainly aren't going to tell you," he added.
It's difficult even now to find information about the product on the company's Web site, Schiff said.
"I'm picking on them for that, but their technology is maybe ahead of their publicity," he said. "They've got their reputation. Data warehousing has reached the point where many companies rely on it for 'bet-your-business' applications. When you're talking about homeland security, it could be a 'bet-your-borders' technology. They could play that up."
The company's products are technologically advanced, another advantage for their growth, said Jonathan Eunice, a principal analyst at Illuminata.
"There are a few other companies in the hunt for very large warehouses, but Teradata is right in there, and often in front," he said.