In the third in our series of exclusive vendor interviews from NRF 2013, our Editor talks to Marco Guida, President of TXT, about the company’s growth in 2012, its acquisition of Maple Lake, and its plans for the coming year and beyond.
Ben Hanson: The last time we spoke at any length was at TXT’s Thinking Retail! Event in Paris last year, so I wanted to find out how the past twelve months have been for TXT.
Marco Guida: 2012 was a fantastic year. We’ve been growing 12% on a yearly basis, organically and excluding Maple Lake, and after the acquisition in the fourth quarter of the year we’ll have seen growth year-on-year of more than 15%. Our profitability has been improving significantly, and although I can’t be too concrete just yet, I know that we’ve seen a big improvement.
We are generating cash, which is fantastic because it gives us a strong financial position to work from – even after the acquisition of Maple Lake – and provides us with all the resources that are needed in order to keep investing in research and product development, and eventually even in further acquisition, once we’ve fully integrated Maple Lake.
BH: I know that TXT are an Italian-based company, already well established in Europe; so am I right in thinking that with the acquisition of Maple Lake you’re looking to expand your footprint in the US?
MG: Yes, but it’s important to note that TXT still had customers in North America in its own right in 2012. Clearly the acquisition of Maple Lake is something will help to drive that growth significantly further, so our plan of 2013 is to keep growing in Europe, but with a strong emphasis on development and promotion in North America.
With Maple Lake we also acquired a subsidiary in Australia, and we also expect that – more in the midterm – this will present us with an opportunity to begin expanding into the APAC market.
BH: In terms of software direction, TXT are demonstrating a lot in the way of mobile applications here at NRF. Is this an identified focus for you?
MG: Certainly mobile applications will be a driving trend for the next year, from two different perspectives. First of all, mobile applications will, I think, drive a completely different way of working with software applications. There are certain paradigms of interface and operability that we’re bringing from the mobile world into the more traditional world. For instance, we have just released the new version of our integrated planning application, which emphasises visual assortments and visual merchandising, all of which are visually-oriented ways of interaction that reflect the ways in which people interact with a tablet, and are now available to our planning users, whatever device they are using.
Then there is the second perspective, which is mobile availability – the pure access to systems on the move. We are also supporting certain tasks and activities that are integral part of the planning and PLM processes in our target companies, yet taking place in mobility contexts, and that were until today not properly supported by planning and PLM applications. So this is the other way that we’re looking at mobile: designing new applications, that fully suit the mobile environment, but that are fully integrated to the robust systems we already have in place.
[quote]There are certain paradigms of interface and operability that we’re bringing from the mobile world into the more traditional world.[/quote]
BH: So, rather than developing mobile applications just to tick a box, TXT are taking the approach that mobile applications should be created to suit real-world scenarios and change the ways that people interact with existing tasks and information?
MG: Absolutely. We have a number of pilot projects currently running, with Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs and other customers who are forward-thinking in that respect. Our approach is to co-develop and pilot these kinds of projects with our customers, before turning these into fully-fledged product releases. We do intend, though, to release mobile planning and PLM applications within the first part of this year.
BH: Aside from mobile, are there any other trends that you see shaping our industry over the coming year?
MG: There is one area that we find very interesting: social media, which has an extremely widespread impact. As with mobile, though, there are two different aspects to this. One is in looking at public social media, recognising that customers interact with it on a regular basis, and looking at how the information gleaned from it can drive product development, or making more customer-centric a range of planning activities. The other aspect is how social media tools could be used to simplify traditional workflow applications in product development and product lifecycle management, i.e. processes with an inherently unstructured and creative component, and how social media could be exploited to work more efficiently and effectively within an enterprise.
This is an area we’re looking at experimenting in with our forward-thinking customers as we continue into 2013.