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Vantive shuffles top management

The front office software vendor shifts the roles of several key executives, naming a chairman and a chief operating officer.

Several top executives at front office software vendor Vantive stepped down today, as the company quickly rebuilt its management team with a new chairman and chief operating officer.

John Luongo, president and chief executive officer of Vantive since 1993, has added chairman of the Santa Clara, California-based company's board to his title. William Davidow, Vantive's board chairman since last May, stepped down from that post but will remain a board member.

Phillip Dunkelberger, 40, the company's marketing chief since last year, will replace outgoing chief operating officer John Jack, 42, who had held the job since 1997. Jack's resignation is effective May 31. Dunkleberger will also take on Luongo's title as president.

Leonard J. LeBlanc will retain his post as the company's executive vice president, while Steven Sherman has been named vice president of engineering.

The management shakeup is part of Luongo's strategy to help Vantive continue growing, after reaching the $100 million revenue mark, Dunkelberger said.

Since its founding in 1990, Vantive's business has grown to more than 700 customers and $117 million in revenue. Yet the company, and other front office vendors, are fighting to stay a step ahead of larger enterprise resource planning vendors like SAP, Oracle, and Baan, all of which are either developing or have bought front office software for managing sales, marketing, help desk, and customer service departments.

Under its new management team, Vantive will work to regain ground lost by trying to compete in too many markets--ranging from call center to help desk to sales force automation---and refocus on its call center business, Dunkelberger said.

"In the past year, Vantive, quite frankly, went down a path of being all things to all people," he said.

About seven months ago, the company decided to return to its core competency--building enhanced customer call center applications--and moved away from the complex sales force automation systems for which larger rival Siebel Systems has made its name.

"When you chase every opportunity you end up chasing none," said Dunkelberger, who has 18 years experience in the software industry, including jobs in sales and marketing at Apple Computer and Symantec. Most recently he was president and CEO of Pretty Good Privacy, an enterprise security company that was acquired by Network Associates.

In line with its new strategy, Vantive anticipates mapping out revamped product lines over the next several months, he said.

Vantive 8, the company's latest call center software release, focuses on Web-based applications for customer self-service and channel management. Other additions include mobilized field service, flexible field service scheduling and dispatching with integrated inventory management, new field sales, and telesales and telemarketing features.