IBM connection crucial for Fundi

ONE of the biggest challenges for export businesses in Perth is finding an effective way of getting their product to a global market.

One firm that seems to have cracked the formula is East Perth software developer Fundi Software, which has formed a partnership with global computing giant, IBM.

Fundi has had a number of agreements in place since 1998 to develop systems analysis software for IBM.

This marketing strategy has allowed the firm to become a global leader in exporting transaction analysis software.

The products are used to analyse and improve the performance of high-volume transaction software, primarily used by Global 2000 companies such as large banks, airlines, automobile manufacturers and insurance companies.

Currently, Fundi is developing seven different transaction analysis products for IBM.

"We develop the products, we own the intellectual property and we own the copyright," Fundi managing director David Mierowsky said.

"IBM markets the products and we get a royalty from every product that gets sold."

The agreement has allowed Fundi to achieve a lucrative share of the international transactions analysis market.

"Depending on the products we've probably got 15 to 20 per cent share of the potential market in some cases, maybe a bit lower in some of the others," Mr Mierowsky said.

The company considers the agreement with IBM as crucial for its growth.

"It was part of the strategy right from the early days to get a major partner on board to take the products to a world market," Mr Mierowsky said.

"We had, over the years, a couple of attempts of launching products internationally ourselves through small partners and small distributors and that was just really difficult."

While some might think that being based in Perth would hinder attempts to compete in a global market, Fundi has turned that into an advantage.

"Being small and being able to react to customer requirements and deliver solutions to those requirements fairly quickly is our main competitive advantage," Mr Mierowsky said.

"The quality in the products we develop is a secondary advantage as well, we have a fairly high degree of satisfaction amongst the users of our products.

"IBM's aware of that and that makes us more attractive to IBM to do new projects."

Earlier this month, Fundi was recognised for its achievements in exporting technology when it received an iAward from the Australian Internet Industry Association.

Fundi was also nominated as the best exporter in 2007 at the Western Australian Information Technology Awards, and was a finalist in the category in 2008.

"It's just very good for the people actually working on the products, being so far from the users of the products, sometimes there's a little bit of a disconnect," Mr Mierowski said.

"It helps all those guys and gives them a lot of encouragement to see we're being recognised for the work that they're doing."

The firm survived two ownership changes early this decade, first when the firm bought out by Kaz Group in 2001, and then when Telstra bought Kaz three years later.

In 2006 Mr Mierowsky led a management buyout to regain control over Fundi.

"Basically we can make the decisions we need to make, the investments we need to make to grow the company, without being constrained by any sort of higher corporate aim which may not be the same as ours," he said.

With Fundi's revenue in US dollars, the downward shift in the Australian dollar during the past six months has helped the firm, according to Mr Mierowsky.


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