Friday Interview: Peter Zotto, Iona Technologies

10 Feb 2006

Peter Zotto (pictured) is chief executive of one of Ireland’s original tech high-flyers, Iona Technologies

Do you think Iona could ever return to the highs of a US$100 share price in 2000 compared with its present range of US$3 to US$4?

There’s a tendency for observers to look at companies that were high-flyers in the Nineties and believe they’ll get back there easily when the industry picks up. That’s the wrong benchmark to have. My goal has been to return Iona to the position of industry leader in its segment and a larger, more profitable company. Our product strategies will increase the value of the company substantially, certainly in terms of working with companies such as IBM, SAP and Siebel in setting new standards in the services oriented architecture (SOA) market and particularly by becoming a more relevant player in the open source area. We were profitable in 2004 and if you take away the charge of US$1.1m first-time non-cash expense for accrued vacation we were actually profitable in 2005. The reality is that we have transitioned as a company with a strong market focus, a strong strategy and a good business model.

Why do you believe the SOA model is vital to the future of IT infrastructure?

It means companies can modernise and improve their IT environment without ripping out their old IT infrastructure. The last big model in the IT industry was client server, which was expensive and rigid. Companies want to move away from that towards much more adaptable IT environments and that’s where SOA comes in. We have seen SOA become adopted in the US, UK and northern Europe sooner than anywhere else in the world.

You’ve placed a lot of emphasis on your Artix product strategy. Where will this position the company going forward?

The difference between the Iona of the past and the Iona of today is that we’re a much more market-oriented company focused on customer value and growing each of our three product lines. We’ve managed a transition without giving up one of the great core competencies — that of being an innovative company.

By John Kennedy

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