Geac finds channel, teams with Microsoft in hunt for VARs

After 33 years of mainly using its own sales force in North America, Geac Computer Corp. has discovered resellers.

Following last year’s purchase of Comshare Inc., a Windows-based planning, budgeting and forecasting software vendor, the Markham, Ont. company is leveraging Comshare’s partnership

with Microsoft VARs for its business applications.

“”We are in discussion right now with a couple of companies that are interested in distributing or recommending the Geac solution to their customer base,”” said Jim Norton, vice-president of business development.

These include resellers carrying Microsoft financial products such as Great Plains, regional system integrators with business intelligence practices, global system integrators and VARs who sell into certain verticals.

“”Microsoft tells us who their biggest and best”” resellers are and Geac then approaches them, he says.

So far it hasn’t announced any signings.

As part of the strategy, Geac has become a Microsoft Gold certified partner.

It’s a good move, says Lee Geishecker, vice-president of research for enterprise operations at Gartner Inc. “”The channel opportunity is huge.””

The Comshare products have been renamed the Geac Performance Management Suite, which includes budgeting, forecasting, financial consolidation, financial reporting and strategy planning modules. They can run on either Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle databases.

“”A perfect partner for us in Canada would be one that has Microsoft and financial (application) expertise,”” said Norton.

He hopes to have at least one signed up in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver by the end of the year.

Partner income will depend on their business models, said Brian Hartlen, Geac’s vice-president of marketing. VARs that do implementations would split licence fees with Geac on a formula, while others may want Geac to do the sales and marketing.

Last year was another eventful one for Geac after two years of turmoil in which falling maintenance revenue meant a restructuring. It’s been trying to move from enterprise resource management applications running on IBM iSeries mainframes to one which concentrates on business performance management software for mid-size companies.

In addition to buying Comshare for US$52 million, it also bought Extensity Inc., a maker of expense and time management applications, for US$46 million and replaced its chief executive. In June, long-time executive chairman Charles S. Jones became president and CEO after the resignation of Paul Birch.

Industry observers note it faces competition in certain verticals from heavyweights such as SAP, Oracle and PeopleSoft. An IDC analyst wrote in October that more than half its revenue comes from maintenance contracts on older applications. The company says that’s why it bought Comshare.

“”Geac is not viewed as a competitive threat in the business applications market,”” says Gartner’s Geishecker.

“”They’re looked at as a kinder, gentler Computer Associates, acquiring financially distressed companies with a large installed base and mature products.””

Part of the problem, she said, was that the company lacked a CEO with long-term vision.

But Jones may make a difference. “”He’s starting to surround himself with strong people,”” she said, “”which is something his predecessors did not do.””

For the Comshare and Extensity acquistions to work Geac has to work at partnering with independend software vendors, says Warren Shiau, an analyst at IDC Canada.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com
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