Analyst Road Show with SYSPRO and UNIT4

Not as well known as the JRocket Marketing Grape Escape but still highly effective (and entertaining), the analyst road show organized by Judith Rothrock every year in December brings together C-level executives from SYSPRO and UNIT4 and analysts from the most important firms in the field, including Technology Evaluation Centers.

I had briefings with both SYSPRO and UNIT4. They highlighted some of their accomplishments for 2011, and made some interesting announcements. Here’s a summary of the conversations I had with the two vendors:

UNIT4: Acquisitions, Largest Deals to Date, BLINC Business Solutions

In 2011, UNIT4 made two important acquisitions: Exie (a vendor of corporate and sales performance management solutions) and Prosoft (a software-as-a-service provider of payroll and human resources software). Exie will be integrated with UNIT4’s Agresso and CODA product lines, but is also the base of a new product line (described below). Prosoft also offers outsourcing services for human resources and has its headquarters in Singapore, which allows UNIT4 to enforce its position in the Asian market.

2011 brought to UNIT4 two of its most important sales ever: a US$4.6 million deal with a German state to replace 23 SAP sites, and a US$4 million deal with Addis Ababa Water and Sewerage Authority. UNIT4’s focus on government and professional services industries didn’t change, but professional services were up 10 percent in 2011 versus 2010. Also, UNIT4 saw a jump of 10 percent in “major deals”—replacements of systems (such as those implemented by Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft)—and its average deal size increased by 29 percent.

Finally, UNIT4 announced a new line of products, BLINC Business Solutions, that will be available in March 2012, which looks at enterprise business intelligence (BI) and business performance management (BPM) from a fresh perspective. The product line consists of apps that can be bought online via the BLINC Business Solution App Store—for just a few dollars per month per user. This is in sharp contrast to the usual BI and BPM implementations, which are typically very expensive. BLINC Business Solutions can be used to analyze data, make decisions, and monitor performance based on specific needs. Specific apps will be readily available for each department of the company or specific vertical industries, as opposed to the typical lengthy, costly, and complicated deployments of larger BI and BPM solutions. UNIT4 customers will be able to download only the apps that they need and start using them right away. One thing that does not change is the fact that these apps need to connect to a data cube, which for the time being will reside on the servers of their customers. Going forward, as cloud technology evolves, UNIT4 envisions cloud-based app cubes.

SYSPRO: Quantum Architecture, Roadmap for 2012–13

Exactly one year ago, during the 2010 analyst road show, SYSPRO announced its new Einstein strategy, summarized by a variation of the famous E = mc2 that forms part of the theory of special relativity. In SYSPRO’s vision, S = MC2, where S is SYSPRO, M is material management, and the two Cs represent cost and cash management. And just as Einstein inspired quantum theory (or quantum mechanics), which “explains the behavior of matter and its interactions with energy,” SYSPRO has evolved its strategy to Quantum Architecture, based on “scientific principles which attempt to resolve the behavior of SMB matters (via processes/technology) as they interact with organizational energy (people!).”

With Quantum Architecture, SYSPRO provides companies with tools for attaining critical objectives such as fully documented business processes, better communication, and more accurate data gathering and analysis, reducing complexity of implementations, and increasing the agility of their business. This is done through the integration of the following new ERP innovations:

  1. Multisource single-repository architectural map gives customers a unified view of all their requirements, their assets, and the configurations and capabilities of the solution, with the option to drill down per role or activity.

  2. Data collaboration modeling allows companies to define strategies and workflows to gather and analyze structured and unstructured data generated by all entities involved in the business.

  3. Preconfigured system and process models make daily tasks easier for regular users and allow administrators to create and manage sophisticated business processes and workflows, including patterns of use and best practices.

  4. Embedded role-based performance management not only predefines metrics and KPIs, but also allows business changes—whether internal or external—to be tracked and managed by role. This allows companies to embed performance management within the blueprint of their business.

The new architecture is the result of SYSPRO’s experience with several hundreds of companies having deployed their current 6.1 release. Watch for additional enhancements and product development from SYSPRO as follows:

  • The first half of 2012 will bring a new retail module, enhanced reporting and functionality for enterprise search, an online store for apps, and a Web-based product configurator.

  • In the second half of 2012, SYSPRO plans to provide extended scalability in version 7.0, and enhance its warehouse and quality management functionality.

  • For 2013, SYSPRO plans to enhance its cloud offering, expand supply chain capabilities and regulatory compliance tools, and offer its customers a mobile app generator.

Predictions for 2012

UNIT4 will keep trying to convince companies to exchange their limited, inflexible systems for a new, more flexible solution, while focusing on its VITA Architecture for Businesses Living in Change (BLINC). UNIT4’s cloud shared services offering has the potential to disrupt the software offering in the public sector; the new BLINC Business Solutions needs to be available both on premise and in the cloud to fulfill its potential.

I predict SYSPRO might take another step in extending its physics metaphor and adapt string theory (which attempts to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity) to business. As many physicists believe that string theory should lead to a fundamental description of nature, SYSPRO could conceivably find similar positioning for its business capabilities. Watch for SYSPRO to try to solve the mysteries of enterprise black holes (those parts of a company’s budget from which no investment can escape and turn into ROI) or parallel universes that rarely collaborate within a company (such as sales, production, accounting, etc.).
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