As word spreads about Bob Dutkowsky's channel-oriented background, some solution providers are beginning to warm up to his appointment as CEO of J.D. Edwards.
Dutkowsky was named to the top spot of the company Jan. 3.
While Dutkowsky "is thought of highly, and positive on channels, he has a hardware background, which concerns me," said one J.D. Edwards channel partner in the company's Genesis program.
Another partner wondered whether Dutkowsky's appointment might reverse some changes to J.D. Edwards' channel programs that are under way. In November, the Denver-based company said it would solicit more consulting work itself and reduce its partner ranks by 40 percent.
"I believe the experiences of Mr. Dutkowsky and the trends currently under way in J.D. Edwards will not mesh," said this partner, who requested anonymity. "Something will need to give."
Company executives from then-CEO Ed McVaney down said this past fall that it was necessary to cut the number of partners from about 650 to roughly 400. But partners that demonstrate sufficient commitment to J.D. Edwards and its products will be kept on board, executives said.
Though Dutkowsky was not with the company when the changes were initiated, he said they appeared sound.
"Where companies can go wrong is if they scatter their value out across too many partnerships," Dutkowsky said in an interview this week with CRN. When the partner base is diluted, he said, "[vendors don't prosper at the right rates, and our partners don't prosper at the right rates."
Yet Dutkowsky affirmed his commitment to working with the channel, explaining that his work at EMC and IBM demonstrated firsthand that it's essential to cultivate a strong channel.
"No company can go it alone," he said.
Dutkowsky replaces the retiring McVaney, who founded J.D. Edwards in 1977. The company develops supply-chain management and CRM software that competes with offerings from SAP, Oracle and Manugistics.
Observers speculate that Dutkowsky has his work cut out for him.
"He is going to have to tighten things up quite a bit," said David Stein, an independent business consultant and principal of The Stein Advantage, Mahopac, N.Y.
Moreover, "he is going to have to disappoint some partners, customers, employees, analysts and shareholders in the short run," in part, Stein said, because the software-selling model is in flux.
Like many software companies, J.D. Edwards "is attempting to make up the shortfall [in license sales with services, competing directly against some of their long-term business partners."