SumTotal Beefs Up Executive Team to Leverage its Learning Heritage
By Jim Lundy
SumTotal Systems was taken private in 2009 by Vista Equity Partners for roughly $160 Million. Lots of things happened after that deal. It moved its Company Headquarters to Gainesville, Florida and it hired a new CEO John Borgerding, a Xerox veteran. John and I were both at Xerox at the same time, but I left a few years before he did.
With regard to SumTotal, the question is, has the sleeping giant in Corporate Learning re-awakened? A lot changed between then and now. Cornerstone OnDemand grew its salesforce, improved its marketing and went public. Plateau got sold to SuccessFactors, which in turn was sold to SAP. Learn.com was sold to Taleo, which in turn was bought by Oracle. This blog post focuses on some of the recent changes at SumTotal Systems.
SumTotal and Capturing the Resurgence in Learning
We just published a Special Report on the Resurgence in Learning. We are seeing renewed interest by end-users and now by vendors. With all the change that occurred at SumTotal since 2009, we didn’t see them as active in Learning, as we did in the previous ten years. SumTotal has made a few changes that are helping it to regain its footing, focus and awareness. They are having their customer event in April 2013 in Orlando. One of the key moves that John Borgerding has made is to recruit a more seasoned executive team.
SumTotal and Marketing
For years, the guy that carried the torch at SumTotal was Sanjay Dholakia. He left and is now the CMO at Marketo. That said, the new CMO for SumTotal Systems is Holly Rollo, a battle tested executive who has worked in Silicon Valley for years. Her work at Cisco, SAP and SuccessFactors makes her a great choice to spice up the SumTotal story, which had gone a little dark until recently. We met with Holly recently and it is clear that she understands the challenges of moving the needle in marketing.
SumTotal and Sales
SumTotal also hired Bill Shaheen, an Oracle and Taleo veteran, to run Sales. Sales is a critical area, and we have already noticed the impact that Bill is having by driving SumTotal back into deals. The challenge in Learning and HCM is that the talent wars continue as Workday is constantly raiding competitors and stealing top sales performers. We wonder if others, such as SumTotal will be able to counter-attack and steal back some of the people that Workday and others hired.
SumTotal and its Offerings
In Learning, SumTotal was known as the vendor who bought multiple LMS offerings and for many of those products, including Pathlore, they still offer maintenance support. Our observation is that the maintenance program offered by SumTotal seems eerily similar to maintenance offerings from Oracle (maintenance forever). SumTotal is semi-unique in its approach to Social Learning, in that it is leveraging its integration with SharePoint 2010. We’ll cover SumTotal more in our upcoming Aragon Research Globe for Learning.
For end users, the great news is that when you have choice, you often end up getting closer to what you are looking for in a product or service. In Learning, SumTotal will make the competition between Learning providers more interesting. Stay tuned for more on this topic in upcoming posts.