Campus Management Software Company Grows Overseas - Sun Sentinel, May 30, 2015

A Boca Raton company that makes software to run colleges is expanding globally.

By Doreen Hemlock - Campus Management Corp. recently opened a small office in Brazil and upgraded its large office in India. It now has customers in 18 countries, including colleges in Asia and Africa.

CEO Jim Milton
Campus Management Corp. CEO Jim Milton expects company sales this year to be around $100 million.

The company expects about 10 percent of revenue this year from sales outside the U.S. That share should increase to about 30 percent in five years, chief executive Jim Milton said in an interview.

It's focusing on overseas growth mainly on emerging markets where English is commonly used, where the economy and middle classes are growing, and where colleges model operations on the U.S. system.

"The United States is still the shining star for higher education in the world," Milton said, noting that many colleges abroad are adopting the mixed on-campus, online education programs popular in the U.S.

Founded by a South Florida entrepreneur in 1988, Campus Management started out supplying software mainly to private, for-profit colleges in the U.S. Keiser University was among its first customers.

In 2008, the company was purchased by a private-equity firm from New York named Leeds, which focuses on education. Leeds encouraged the push abroad, both for staff and for sales.

India Office
Campus Management Corp.'s new office in India.

In late 2008, Leeds bought the assets of a software company in India named Talisma. That provided Campus Management with software engineers in India, where labor costs are much lower than in the U.S.

About three years ago, Campus Management also started to sell its software overseas. It now handles some sales directly from India, especially to nations nearby in southeast Asia and Africa. That's helped boost its employee base in India to about 350 — or about half the company's staff worldwide.

The overseas expansion should push company sales this year to around $100 million, Milton said.

That's good news for Kelly Smallridge, who leads the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County. Her group is targeting corporate headquarters, software companies and international business as areas for growth in the county. She's pleased that Campus Management now employs about 300 employees in South Florida, from software developers to people with Portuguese skills.

"It's another sign that corporate headquarters are thriving here," Smallridge said. Milton, now 54, took the CEO post at Campus Management in August after a career in international business and in scaling up ventures. Raised in Canada, he had worked in international sales for software maker UGS and other companies, even opening up subsidiaries in the United Kingdom and China. He also had run a 15,000-employee operation across North America for computer maker Compaq.

Milton said his biggest challenge in the new global push is picking which overseas markets to target and scaling them up effectively. It can take 18 to 24 months for a college to choose a software provider. And many schools weigh the experience of others in their country before selecting.

"You've got to be all in and make sure you have a highly successful implementation" in your initial entry into a new market, Milton said. Spreading efforts too thin and not executing well can lead to failure.

To be sure, the U.S. remains the largest market for Campus Management and its software that helps college manage three key areas: customer relations, student information and human resources, finance and payroll. Milton estimates the potential market for those products at colleges in the U.S. at roughly $2.2 billion yearly, or almost half of the $5 billion market at colleges worldwide.

Competition is stiff for sales. For student information systems, for example, Campus Management in 2014 was strongest in reaching private, for-profit colleges and smaller schools. Its rivals — including Workday Student, PeopleSoft Campus and Ellucian — had an edge in other segments, said a new report by higher-education researcher Tambellini Group, based in Virginia.

College demands are shifting too Tambellin said, as technology moves from servers to the Internet-based cloud.

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Campus Management’s software and services are in step with higher education’s demands for better service and accountability.