Eight years after co-founding the business software firm BEA Systems in Silicon Valley in the United States, Hong Kong-born Alfred Chuang is leading a change of biblical proportions in his industry. The 41-year-old chairman and chief executive at BEA opened his company's eighth annual technology conference in Florida last week with a commitment to 'convergence' as a way to help businesses become more competitive. 'IT has been more a Tower of Babel than a Garden of Eden,' he said, referring to the information technology (IT) industry's lack of a standard application infrastructure software platform. He said this situation had prevented enterprises from using legacy processes to develop, integrate and expand advanced business programmes over the Internet to reach staff, suppliers, partners and customers more efficiently. That has changed as BEA brings together application development and integration under its updated flagship software suite, WebLogic Enterprise Platform 8.1. Mr Chuang described BEA's strategy as 'a turning point for the application infrastructure market as we know it'. 'Building, integrating and extending applications into a single, powerful framework drives dramatic increases in IT productivity,' he said. The success of BEA's shift in direction will depend on its execution. That is where Mr Chuang, one of BEA's three co-founders, is expected to shine. He is credited with many strategic technical decisions in the company, particularly the acquisition of a small start-up called WebLogic in 1998. Mr Chuang's aggressive stance in repositioning around Java and WebLogic technology sparked BEA's rapid transition from a struggling vendor of ageing technology for processing online transactions into a cutting-edge vendor of the highly profitable Java platform, according to Gartner research director Yefim Natis. Mr Chuang has never been timid about making calculated changes to achieve his goals. Like the Ferraris that he drives, he musters the necessary horsepower to make safe, smooth and swift moves at each turn of the road. By the time he took over as chief executive of BEA in 2001, Mr Chuang had managed just about every aspect of the company. He had led finance, sales, services, engineering, product development, management information systems, corporate development, business planning, developer services, human resources and global operations. He had also served as BEA's chief technology officer, executive vice-president of product development, president of business operations, company president and chief operating officer. He was named chairman of BEA in August last year. Mr Chuang established BEA in early 1995 with fellow Sun Microsystems executives William Coleman and Ed Scott. At Sun, he had built a nine-year career that included management positions in the critical areas of software product development, network infrastructure, operations management and systems architecture. Before he moved to Sun in 1986, he had worked for more than seven years in commercial computing, software systems research and systems consulting. He is credited with helping to manage BEA's sharp climb to become a top player in the information technology field and IBM's most determined rival in an important segment of the multibillion-dollar software market. This growth has included 23 consecutive quarters of record revenues, more than 30 corporate acquisitions and signing up more than 13,000 customers around the world. Mr Chuang said BEA's shifts in direction had been made with an eye to helping developer communities build better business applications. '[These] are the people who make BEA possible. We never lose sight of that,' he said.