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With justification, much is made of the difficulties that face European companies moving into the United States. However, little is heard of the similar obstacles that face American companies moving to Europe.
The first difficulty is that Europe is not homogeneous: buyers in different countries have different buying habits. Symantec did some research into this last year and found that technology purchases in Europe tend to conform to national stereotypes. For example, its research found that the French tend to be most interested in the long-term, strategic vision while Germans were more inclined to focus on the technological nuts and bolts in the here and now.
Another factor is that sales and the sales process is very different in Europe compared to the United States. You only have to look at the difference between television advertisements on the two continents to be aware of that. However, that by no means guarantees that a US head office will understand that fact. For example, on more than one occasion I have been asked to write white papers by the European arm of American companies, which have subsequently been cancelled, or butchered, in the United States, despite the approval of the Europeans that commissioned the project. In one such case, the paper was never used by the company that requested it, solely because it felt that the US-dictated changes meant that the paper was no longer fit for purpose.
In practice, it is often the companies that quietly move into Europe without much noise that are the most successful in making this transition: absorbing the culture for a while before ramping up their marketing.
Two companies that have taken this softly, softly approach but are now starting to be more aggressive in Europe are Spotfire and GoldenGate. The former is a business intelligence vendor that specialises in advanced visualisation techniques and which is particularly strong in the pharmaceutical sector, but I want to concentrate on GoldenGate.
GoldenGate is not actually new to Europe as it has been a long-time supplier to the Link ATM (automated teller machine) network in the UK. However, it is only relatively recently that it has opened a European office, in this case in Amsterdam.
GoldenGate has historically been known for its data synchronisation and real-time replication capabilities but it was always rather difficult to pin the company down into a particular market. Now, the company has refined its positioning and it is now specifically targeting high availability and disaster recovery on the one hand and real-time data integration on the other.
I have to say that I am particularly pleased that GoldenGate is now active in the European market, primarily because it is a best-of-breed solution, which does not have any real competitors. This is not to say that there are not other vendors in its markets but Quest does not have the same range of capabilities as GoldenGate while the likes of Oracle and Sybase, say, focus on users of their environments (and DataMirror on the AS/400) whereas GoldenGate’s solution is heterogeneous. I expect GoldenGate to gain significant additional traction across Europe, as it ramps up its marketing efforts here.