As the CEO of Vignette, Thomas Hogan has been out to turn around this once wunderkind of the Internet age into a stable member of the enterprise software community.

As part of that effort, Vignette is now focused squarely on workflow and collaboration software across multiple platforms. In an interview with CRN Editor-in-Chief Michael Vizard, Hogan talks about his ambitions for Vignette after making several strategic acquisitions in 2003 and the critical role a renewed focus on the channel will play in helping Vignette take on larger rivals.

Hogan: Vignette, many people have and still argue, is overcapitalized. We finished the last quarter with $262 million in cash with zero debt, which creates an opportunity. Essentially, we have this company at break-even performance today with a stable top line and a pretty solid command of the business and ability to deliver our objectives.

CRN: What is the Vignette product strategy?

Hogan: Vignette's heritage and history was in the content space. Prior to my assumption of this role, Vignette started to acquire assets to extend the vision into content-rich Internet applications, or content-driven apps with the acquisition of OnDisplay and DataSage to provide integration and analytics to the core content engine.

Then one of the first actions I took in the CEO role was to drive and consummate the acquisition of Epicentric, which we believed was the clear market leader in the Java J2EE-compliant portal space. We also made a smaller acquisition with a collaborative/e-marketing asset bought from a company called Revenio that we relabeled Dialogue. Then we acquired Intraspect for collaboration software. Today, we think we are the only Java-based J2EE-compliant suite of content portal and collaboration. 

CMSWire: Hmmm ...and where is IBM is this picture?

Hogan: We think Vignette is the market-leading Web content management player, but more RFPs today are being issued around the concept of ECM [enterprise content management]. So we don't want to be boxed out of an opportunity because we can't check another kind of category box in the broader ECM category. 

If you think about where might Vignette focus strategically going forward, it would be to address that entire ECM category so that Vignette is not only included in any Web content management deal where you're perceived as a market leader in ECM. We think we can be the only vendor that has both the whole back-end ECM structure as well as the delivery side. If you think about IBM, they've got a portal but they've got no content.

Documentum and Interwoven have repositories and data management, but they have no delivery mechanism. By sitting above the architectures, combined with both a data management repository and the front-end delivery mechanism around the portal, we think that could be a very compelling value proposition for our customers in the market. ...

CRN: One of the fastest-growing segments in today's market is the SMB space. How does Vignette view this market?

HOGAN: There's the small enterprise, and I would characterize that by companies with revenue probably less than $50 million; then there's the whole middle market, which would probably be $50 million up to companies in the $250 million range; and then there's companies above $250 million. We built this company on the over $250 million segment.

But I would tell you that there is a need and an opportunity for Vignette and for the other people vying for the space to build a successful business in that middle market. In the low end, Vignette is probably overkill in terms of our capabilities, but the midmarket is absolutely a sweet spot that we covet, and [we] are working on a distribution game for getting to that midmarket segment. Read.