Bobby Patrick – A True B2B Hero

Yes, unfortunately, the rumors you may have heard are true.  Bobby Patrick, GXS’ Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer has decided to leave the company.  Bobby will be pursuing an executive role at a Big Data startup called Basho Technologies.  Bobby’s departure is a loss not only for GXS, but for the integration industry.  In his eight years at GXS, Bobby had a long list of accomplishments – too many to document in a blog post – but there were three that I found particularly memorable.

In 2004, shortly after joining GXS, Bobby launched the GXS’ Trading Grid.  Trading Grid was a strategy to build a portfolio of hosted B2B integration applications ranging from supply chain visibility and electronic payments to intelligent web forms and accounting package adapters. At the time most of the B2B integration vendors such as TIBCO, webMethods, Axway, Seeburger and Sterling Commerce were focused on developing their software portfolios. Rapid price decline in the EDI VAN business had convinced most technology vendors that there was no market opportunity in hosted services.  But they were wrong.  As it turned out Bobby’s bet on hosted services was timed perfectly. A few years later in 2007 when many of the new Trading Grid services were being launched, the IT industry began a major shift away from software towards SaaS and Cloud Computing.  In the past 18 months all the B2B software zealots have announced cloud offerings as they attempt to play catch up.

The most successful product launched on GXS Trading Grid was Managed Services.  Although there are many others at GXS such as Jeff Keefer that pioneered GXS’ B2B Managed Services offering, Bobby was quick to recognize the significance of the market opportunity.  And he applied significant marketing muscle to build awareness for the concept.  In 2007, Bobby commissioned a breakthrough study on the value of B2B Managed Services with Dr. Hau Lee of Stanford University.  The following year, Bobby invested to build the industry’s first study comparing the TCO of Managed Services to in-house software.  The market for Managed Services has been growing at a rate of 15-20% over the past five years even through the worst of the recent recession.  GXS now has over 500 customers and nearly $150 million in revenue.  The overall sector is expected to reach $2 billion in revenues by 2015.

In 2009, Bobby introduced a new concept called the Active Business. Bobby’s vision was that businesses which heavily invested in B2B integration technologies could outperform their peer group.  With superior ability to share information related to demand, supply, price and products Active Businesses could more rapidly respond to changing market conditions.  After launching the program, Bobby launched award programs to publicize examples of companies that exemplified the tenets of an Active Business.  And last week, GXS launched its inaugural B2B Heroes program which recognized the individual accomplishments of IT and business professionals in the integration sector.  Twenty leaders from companies such as Warner Home Video, Miller Coors and Under Armour were honored with the award.

Perhaps the only name missing in the list of heroes was Bobby’s. To many people at GXS as well as our customers and our business partners, Bobby Patrick is one of the greatest B2B Heroes to ever work in the B2B sector.