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OSS

Cramer Dubs Dubois CEO

Inventory management system specialist Cramer Systems Ltd. has named former PeopleSoft Inc. (Nasdaq: PSFT) executive Guy Dubois as its new CEO and president (see Cramer Appoints New CEO). Dubois takes the reins from Cramer founder Jon Craton, who has been running the company since the departure late last year of former CEO Jerry Crook (see Cramer's Crook Steps Down). Crook is one of a number of former Peregrine Systems Inc. executives charged with fraud (see Crook Indicted by FBI).

The new CEO takes over at a critical time for Cramer. The OSS firm has emerged as one of the clear leaders in the increasingly important market for inventory management systems, which many Tier 1 operators, such as AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T), BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN), and Telecom Italia SpA (NYSE: TI), regard as the heart of their next-generation back-office systems.

The company has won a number of landmark deals, particularly at BT, and has its eyes on a potential IPO. It has also struck a number of notable partnerships in the past few months. (See BT Awards Monster OSS Deal, KPN Deploys Cramer's OSS, Cramer Wins in India, Slovakia, Bell Canada Goes Live With Cramer, Cramer Preps an IPO, Cramer, HP Link Their OSSs, Cramer, Micromuse Link OSSs, Cramer, Nortel Ally on Net Management, and Cramer Teams Up With IBM).

Wim Helgers, program director of KPN's Network Information Management Program, says the deployment of Cramer's OSS, as part of its network transformation project, has allowed the Dutch incumbent to retire a number of in-house systems, and is "making service provisioning a lot more efficient. A lot of manual processes are now automated using Cramer's software, and we have a better control of our operational expenditures."

Such Tier 1 deployments are helping Cramer edge towards the $100 million annual revenue mark, something the company might achieve in its financial year to the end of July, says its director of corporate communications, Robert Curran. The company recorded annual revenues of $65 million in the year to July 2004.

The major operator deals are also raising the firm's profile. In Heavy Reading's recent report, "2005 OSS Market Perception Study," Cramer ranked first in the Resource and Inventory Management Systems category and was the only vendor in that group to have its brand recognized by more than half of the survey's carrier executive respondents (see Report: OSS Minnows Have Muscle).

All of which makes Cramer one of a handful of vendors set to dominate the telecom inventory system market in the coming years, reckons Lorien Pratt, Program Manager, OSS Competitive Strategies, at Stratecast Partners. She sees Cramer's main rivals as Telcordia Technologies Inc., which propelled itself to a market leading position in May 2004 with the acquisition of Granite Systems, and MetaSolv Software Inc. (Nasdaq: MSLV), with NetCracker Technology Corp. "nipping at their heels." (See Telcordia Shells Out at Last.)

According to a Stratecast sector assessment report from earlier this year, Telcordia commanded 41 percent of the $310.5 million network inventory management market in calendar year 2004, with Cramer managing 23 percent, MetaSolv 13 percent, and NetCracker 10 percent. Other smaller but notable players include Axiom Systems Inc., Incatel Ltd., and Viziqor Solutions. That gap at the top might close this year, though, as Pratt believes the acquisition of Granite will have upset Telcordia's impressive growth record up to that time, though she notes that Telcordia is still "very strong, and can't be matched in North America."

But major contracts wins and impressive growth come with their downsides, too. The new CEO will have to contend with ongoing acquisition speculation: Billing giant Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX) is believed to be stalking Cramer after losing out on Granite (see OSS Business Is Buoyant and Telcordia Nearly Blew Granite Deal).

There's also some negative market scuttlebutt. Cramer is rumored to have missed some deadlines at BT and to have been subject to some financial penalties as a result. The vendor says it hasn't heard of any such issues, and BT declines to comment on market rumors.

Cramer's Curran says such talk is all part of the industry. "There are people out there who are desperate for us to slip up. That's a sign of a competitive market."

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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