Access Commerce Spices Up North American CRM Fray

Access Commerce Spices Up North American CRM Fray
P.J. Jakovljevic - July 5, 2000

Event Summary

According to the company's press release from June 8, Access Commerce, a French eCRM vendor, has announced its acquisition of AIS Technologies Inc. from Vancouver - British Columbia, Canada - a leading e-business solution provider for mid-sized enterprises. This acquisition will accelerate growth plans for penetrating into North America as well as the development of comprehensive e-commerce solutions. AIS software components and experience with "e-enabling" organizations add a solid and complementary foundation to Access Commerce strategic plan to increase the worldwide revenues of the Cameleon Software Suite. Access Commerce has already used AIS's components for its product e-camlon for MFG/PRO (QAD's core ERP product).

"The combination of Access Commerce Cameleon suite with AIS eBusiness software components for e-Payment, e-Fulfillment, and e-Service provides complementary sell-side solutions that will improve our time to market and will allow a better adjustment of our products to the US market requirements" says Mr. Soumeillan, President and CEO of Access Commerce.

Earlier in May, Access Commerce announced the opening of its first USA office in San Diego, California.

"This is an exciting announcement as Access Commerce Inc. expands its presence in the USA,'' said Jean-Francois Novak, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of Access Commerce. "Our first office in the USA positions us to deliver excellent sales and service to our existing customer base and to help Access Commerce successfully execute on its e-business focused growth strategy. We are delighted to announce this new office location to the growing list of worldwide Access Commerce offices."

Access Commerce has also reinforced its North America management structure:

Bernard Clermont has been appointed Executive Vice President of Access Commerce Inc. With over 25 years of experience, he has developed a network of relations in the North American software industry and acquired specialized skills in the setting up of distributor and integrator networks. He will now manage the North American operations of the Access Commerce group.

Stephen Hofflander has been appointed Senior Vice President of US Operations. He has over 18 years of experience in international marketing backed by in-depth knowledge of the American market. He will be in charge of Access Commerce's marketing and business development strategy in the USA, involving the launching of marketing campaigns and the promotion of the company's image with the analyst community, the press, partners and clients.

During Explore 2000, QAD's annual user conference that took place in Nashville, TN from May 15 to May 17, Access Commerce announced the release of eCameleon for MFG/PRO, a web-enabled interactive selling solution that seamlessly integrates with QAD's MFG/PRO. It will be available through QAD's direct sales force and Cameleon Certified Resellers and can be ordered from the QAD price list as of June 1, 2000.

"The interactive selling capabilities provided by eCameleon for MFG/PRO allows QAD MFG/PRO customers the ability to guide customers and partners through the selling process", said Brian Slocum, QAD e-Commerce Product manager, "it offers the ability for web buyers to interactively define their requirements and get the solution they are looking for, whether they are ordering standard or fully configured products and services".

Market Impact

The company's geographic diversification into the world's largest market increases the noise in an already crowded mid-market North American eCRM space. Although we believe that Access-Commerce's decision to sell more aggressively into the crowded market space was somewhat delayed, we believe that it has a few aces up its sleeve in order to overcome barriers to entry and its low brand recognition hurdles.

First, its partnership with QAD and access to QAD's large customer base may result in a number of opportunities and good references worldwide. Moreover, it offers Cameleon, a sleek and comprehensive sales force automation (SFA) product suite, particularly the product configuration part, which can be relatively efficiently applied to a number of distribution channels (direct sales force, partner channels, retail networks, Internet). The company targets the mid-market enterprises that have a pressing need to leverage Internet as a new sales channel.

While its products can be implemented in a stand-alone mode, without a need for a strong back-end system, their full benefit comes from a strong integration with a back-office. To that end, the company provides bridges to ERP and/or legacy systems in place, while there are ready-made connectors to SAP, Baan, and QAD. We expect Access Commerce to pursue a number of alliances with other mid-market ERP vendors, which have failed to provide their own strong front-office suites so far.

Its value proposition may be welcomed in this market and will infuse fresh air into an industry that has traditionally underestimated implementation schedules and costs at the customer's expense. This will give the competition a run for their money and force all major CRM mid-market players, GoldMine, Pivotal, and SalesLogix to thoroughly re-think their business models and further focus on customer satisfaction.

User Recommendations

We encourage potential North American users to familiarize themselves with the newcomer company's value proposition, since we believe that it provide some extra leverage to their negotiating position with all vendors involved in a particular selection exercise. However, users should be wary of Access Commerce's global service and support capabilities given that its existing North American infrastructure is only at an embryonic stage.

This should not concern current and potential QAD users owing to the strong alliance between two companies. Nevertheless, users are advised to ask for QAD's firm assurances on the availability and future upgrades timeframes, and more detailed scope of combined product functionality. Also, make sure that QAD offers a single contract and help desk for all embedded components within its product offerings.

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