Compuware dangles $1 million customer prize

Detroit business software maker aims to increase its national profile with splashy competition.

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By Ben Rooney, CNNMoney.com staff reporter

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Business software maker Compuware announced plans Monday to award $1 million to the customer that writes the best story about its mainframe software, in what the company believes to be the first contest of its kind in U.S. history.

Rose Rowe, Compuware's vice president for mainframe solutions, said the idea for the contest stemmed from a desire to help ease the pressure on customers hit by the weak economy.

"In these economic conditions, IT executives are faced with constant pressure to deliver more with less," she said. "Collecting these stories will help us realize how they leverage their investments with us."

But some industry analysts say the program is aimed more at elevating the Detroit company's profile in a field that includes major players like IBM (IBM, Fortune 500) and Computer Associates (CA).

"It's pretty clear that Compuware has a recognition issue among its customers," said Kirk Materne, an analyst who covers the company at Rafferty Capital Markets in New York.

While Compuware's mainframe computer business has been a reliable source of income over the years, "it's not exactly cutting edge technology," he said.

Despite being "a bit behind in terms of what their competitors have done," Compuware has taken steps recently to develop more modern products, Materne said. Earlier this month, it bought online and mobile application company Gomez.

Under the rules of the contest, Compuware will perform a free cost-savings assessment for existing mainframe customers. Those customers will then have until Nov. 30, 2010, to submit short stories about the "success and savings" realized from Compuware products.

Compuware said it will then select the "most compelling" collection of stories and award a grand prize of $1 million to the winning organization. It will also give nine runners-up $100,000 towards a new license of Compuware software.

Compuware, which is the biggest technology firm in Michigan, has about 4,200 employees in 80 locations around the globe. Its mainframe business has 2,200 customers world wide.  To top of page

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