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Vella Named New Information Builders CEO, Promises 'Channel-Centric' Approach

Founder and long-time CEO Gerald Cohen to remain as chairman and senior advisor.

Business analytics and data management software developer Information Builders has promoted chief operating officer Frank Vella to CEO, taking over for founder and long-time CEO Gerald Cohen.

Cohen will remain as chairman of the privately held company's board and serve as a senior advisor to Vella.

Vella, who was hired as COO in November 2017, assumes responsibility for the management and operations of all aspects of the New York-based company.

"I look forward to continuing to build upon the remarkable legacy created by Gerry and his co-founders," said Vella in a statement. "The spirit of innovation and customer service excellence, fostered through positive corporate culture, has been core to Information Builders since its inception."

[Related: The 2018 Big Data 100]

Before joining IBI Vella was chief revenue officer at BlueJeans Network, a provider of cloud-based video conferencing services, according to his LinkedIn profile. Earlier he was vice president of worldwide sales at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Software, chief operating officer at Virtustream and a global sales vice president at Quest Software.

As COO at IBI Vella has already taken steps to revitalize several areas of the company's business, including its channel operations.

In early 2018 Vella hired channel veteran Pat Bernard as senior vice president of global channels and alliances and added partner marketing and channel operations managers to the staff. Bernard is known to be working on a significant overhaul of IBI's partner program.

In an interview with CRN this week, Vella cited the channel as a key element in his plans to accelerate IBI's growth.

"Culturally, we've always been a channel-friendly company," he said, but added that the company hasn't always put as much emphasis on the channel as he thinks it should. "We want to go from partner-friendly to partner-centric."

Vella plans to do that by providing partners with more technical and marketing support and making changes to how the company pays its field sales force to avoid channel conflict and improve field sales-channel cooperation.

Accelerating product development is also high on Vella's to-do list: He has implemented a new innovation lab at the company, invested more in advanced analytics R&D, and presided over a major release of IBI's flagship WebFocus analytics platform last fall.

"The market is moving quickly and so we have to move quickly," he said. "Bigger data challenges generate the need for more robust data solutions. By capitalizing on the product’s proven areas of strength we will accelerate the pace of innovation."

Vella also said that IBI has to execute more effectively with its own field sales efforts, especially outside of North America.

"These are the things that are going to be key to our success in 2019," he said.

IBI remains privately held. Shortly before Vella joined IBI Goldman Sachs made an equity investment in the company.

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