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September 08 Issue
CEO Spotlight: Bob Segert, GXS
By The Sterling Report
His experience in managing transaction-based systems and understanding of the
services business model make Bob Segert, President and CEO of GXS the right
choice to lead the company into its next phase of growth. Bob chats with The
Sterling Report about B2B outsourcing, SaaS and his goals for GXS.
The Sterling Report (TSR): How important is it for a CEO to be able
‘to predict the future’ in terms of market and company offerings in order to
ensure the success of their company?
Bob Segert (BS): It is not so much a matter of predicting the future per
se. Rather it is a matter of maintaining a constant dialogue with customers and
listening to their needs. By doing so, we can monitor trends and common threads
and therefore anticipate their needs down the road. Good instincts are important
in running a business, but they must be complemented by active dialog and
analysis of the facts.
TSR: Why did you decide to focus more on company's new mantra – 'Software
as a Service'?
BS: We believe Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) will revolutionize the way
technology is delivered for the next 20 years. However, SaaS is a delivery
model, not a mantra. Our mantra or mission is to deliver industry-focused B2B
solutions that enable our customers to succeed. With SaaS, our differentiation
is in the positive outcome – or success – we ensure for our customers. That is
fundamentally different from selling traditional software, which takes into
account little responsibility for the outcome.
TSR: What is your vision for GXS and where will the company position
itself in the next-generation enterprise software market?
BS: My vision for GXS is to be the most reliable and innovative B2B
services provider in the marketplace globally. With the proliferation of
globalization and offshore manufacturing, the need for viable, effective B2B
integration services has become more essential than ever before. As a truly
global company, with operations in over 20 countries, GXS is better positioned
than any other firm in our industry to help our customers successfully integrate
their supply chain operations.
TSR: What are some of the technology areas where GXS is increasingly
focusing, and why are these areas important for the future of GXS?
BS: First and foremost, cloud computing represents a major technology
area GXS is significantly investing in and one that is resulting in our early
leadership position. Our integration services platform – GXS Trading Grid – is
built on highly virtualized technology spanning data centers across multiple
continents, providing rapid scalability, ultra high levels of availability, and
extraordinary cost advantages. Our goal is a non-stop platform featuring a
continuous service evolution that eliminates downtime, planned and unplanned.
Secondly, GXS Trading Grid is a large inter-enterprise Service-Oriented
Architecture – or SOA. Our SOA design enables us to build services and
lightweight composite applications rapidly and with a shared approach for reuse.
Finally, we are investing in tools and capabilities that enable us to deliver
our solutions faster and with higher quality. For example, we are implementing
developer frameworks that support agile web programming and developing
interfaces that allow partners and customers to seamlessly integrate and
ultimately extend on our propositions.
TSR: GXS announces Customer Awards Program every year. What is the exact
idea behind this?
BS: Our goal is to highlight customers that are true innovators in supply
chain optimization and B2B integration. We have many customers that we think are
prime examples of how the supply chain can be optimized to grow revenue and
increase automation, which lowers costs and improves competitiveness. We want to
recognize these customers, but also demonstrate to other companies what is
possible within their own supply chain operations. An important addition to this
year’s line-up: Best Use of GXS Trading Grid to Reduce Environmental Impact.
TSR: What will be the main challenges for GXS over the next few years?
BS: Our primary focus is to grow our most strategic and valuable customer
proposition: B2B outsourcing. We have a rich history in pure electronic data
interchange (EDI) services, but really we are so much more than that now. While
EDI comprises the foundation for some of our services, it is only a component of
the many high-value applications we offer to customers. We provide everything
from basic messaging and translation to complex, global supply chain visibility
services, such as GXS Logistics Visibility. We are no longer a company that
simply moves transactions from company A to company B – we provide robust
reporting, actionable visibility and complex translation and integration
services to companies around the world. Our challenge now is to grow that
message in the marketplace.
TSR: What are your longer-term goals for GXS?
BS: Simply to be the best B2B e-commerce company in the world, delivering
leading, industry-focused solutions that enable our customer to succeed. We will
do that by providing the highest levels of quality and efficiency in process
execution, through a global team of talented, accountable and passionate
TSR: What is it about your solutions that gives you the edge over your
BS: I think our SaaS-based delivery model is really the only way for
companies to be able to cost-effectively adopt the latest in supply chain
management and B2B integration technology. Change is a constant in B2B.
Standards and protocols change almost weekly and trading partner networks are
similarly dynamic. Packaged software quickly becomes out of date and must be
upgraded frequently to remain current with changes in technology. By adopting
SaaS-based solutions – or a hybrid software + services model – companies are
able to remain cutting-edge without making huge investments in new software
packages annually or biannually.
TSR: What’s the biggest misconception you find the marketplace has about
the company right now?
BS: Our legacy as an EDI value added network or VAN company is definitely
still somewhat pervasive. While we still provide basic EDI services to many of
our customers, we have increased our value proposition and services base a great
deal. We are no longer a transaction delivery company. Rather, we are a provider
of on-demand B2B integration and global supply chain visibility solutions.
TSR: What inspired you to get involved in this industry?
BS: I spent a large portion of my career thus far where EDS-B2B
integration software was an area of focus for the company, but not a primary
one. One of the things I observed was how B2B integration services have become
more important and more strategic over time as globalization and offshoring has
increased. I think for companies like GXS, there is a huge market opportunity to
automate and streamline the global supply chain and become a strategic partner
to enterprises and small to medium sized businesses around the world. For me,
that market opportunity is irresistible and the foundation for our future
TSR: What talents do you feel you bring to GXS?
BS: GXS is a company with a great leadership team and a tremendous
corporate heritage derived from both GE and IBM. We are the only global provider
of B2B e-commerce and integration services. With this as a backdrop, our core
challenge is to align and focus our resources on the right opportunities and to
execute with disciplined focus on achieving success for our customers. My
background running corporate strategy and planning, corporate development,
serving as EDS’ first Chief Marketing Officer and running several $1B+
businesses has given me the strategic and operational background to set a clear
course of action, motivate a team and drive results. I also have a solid
understanding of the services business model that will be critical to our
longer-term growth aspirations.
TSR: What are your hobbies? How do you make time for your personal life?
BS: I enjoy being active and trying to stay in reasonable physical
condition. To do that I ensure that I get to the gym 4 – 5 times a week. I also
enjoy golf and have just started to pick up playing tennis with my wife. I have
to admit that with 7 year-old twins, balancing work, personal interests and
family time can be a challenge. For me, it is all a matter of focus. Give your
best in all things, be productive and that will allow you to make time for what
is really important.
Bob Segert is Chief Executive Officer of GXS Inc. He brings more than 15
years of broad and diverse business leadership experience to GXS. Bob has
extensive experience in executing corporate and business unit strategies, profit
and loss management, business development as well as sales and marketing. Prior
to joining GXS in 2008, he was leader of the Global Financial Products Industry
at EDS. In this role, Bob drove global industry strategies, product offerings,
go-to-market approaches and sales support for the financial services industry.
While at EDS, he also served as Chief Marketing Officer, General Manager of US
Financial Services and Managing Director of Corporate Strategy and Planning. Bob
has held roles at A.T. Kearney and Frito-Lay. He received a MBA from Harvard
Business School and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University. For
interview feedback, contact Bob at