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Novell exec opens Brainshare with promise for better days
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Wearing a cardinal red San Francisco 49ers jersey, Novell president and general manager Bob Flynn opened the annual Brainshare conference Monday with the promise that the company was on the right track to forge a better, brighter future.

"It's the old adage, 'This is a journey and not a destination.' We continue to focus on product quality. We continue to focus on the deliverables that we put out there. We continue to focus on our relationship with our customers," Flynn said during the conference's opening keynote address at the Salt Palace Convention Center. "We're very pleased with where we have been, and pleased with the progress that we have made."

Novell produces software to manage businesses' computers systems, including security and data management. The conference, which brings together information technology professionals that use Novell's software, runs through Thursday.

Flynn, a diehard 49ers fan, said he was disappointed by his team's loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Sunday's Super Bowl, but added that he's counting on his company to turn things around the way he thinks his team will. Novell has spent the past two years focusing on improving its customer base and developing a plan to get new customers. Since the last Brainshare conference 16 months ago, the Provo-based company has restructured and rebuilt its sales force, and its representatives have visited 72 cities globally to meet with customers and partners.

Novell has released 86 products, Flynn said, and has shifted 30 percent of its engineering resources to developing technologies.

"We needed to begin the process of innovation," he said of Novell, which was acquired by Houston-based Attachmate Group in 2011 for $2.2 billion. Novell was founded in 1979 as Novell Data Systems and later developed NetWare, server-based hardware for IT systems. Its headquarters was moved to Waltham, Mass., in 2004 and was moved back to Provo in 2011.

In the past year, Novell's strategy has been to not only support existing customers but seek out new ones, leverage core competencies in networking and printing, and capitalize on market trends.

Flynn stressed that the company, and this week's Brainshare, need to focus on the growing importance of mobile devices and how they are being used with companies' IT networks through Novell's software. For example, Novell wants to work with customers on ways to get employees to use their own personal mobile devices (known as BYOD, or "bring your own device") without disrupting security or the management of those devices.

vince@sltrib.com

Conference • Utah company aims to raise bar on customer service, quality, he tells Brainshare.
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