I attended Judith Rothrock’s 2010 Analyst Roadshow event in Boston last week, and was startled by a few news items from ERP vendors UNIT4 and SYSPRO. Here’s my take:
Known as an ERP vendor that targets businesses challenged with constantly changing needs, UNIT4 is usually quite ingenious in their product marketing and branding (e.g., I have never seen other ERP vendors traffic in angels or the like). No exception last week, when UNIT4 surprised me again.
Ton Dobbe and Steven Pugh (UNIT4’s VP of Product Marketing and CODA’s CEO, respectively) announced that UNIT4 has released a new range of software products, partner plug-ins and cloud deployment options for its flagship products Agresso Business World ERP and Coda Financials software.
This is a manifestation of UNIT4’s new global “technology independence” philosophy that is supposed to provide its software with another advantage for its customers, by not only addressing various business change requirements, but also by turning them into new business opportunities. Not an easy task, but these guys are very optimistic about the company’s new strategy, and quite a long history of successful growth justifies this optimism.
In line with its stated strategy, UNIT4 has also announced the launch of Coda Cloud Rebel, a new cloud deployment option for CODA Financials. “Independence” and “freedom” are the key marketing words here, emphasizing financial managers’ autonomy and flexibility in opting between different CODA deployment capabilities—on-premise, on-demand, or hybrid options. Note that a big chunk of businesses running on IBM technologies can now benefit from cloud-based financial applications.
Another interesting announcement that was made by UNIT4 is that the company has changed its product release strategy for Agresso Business World ERP—said strategy is now called Route 66. This strategy allows customers to “pick and mix” different ERP modules with any new release. For example, a company may be satisfied with current operations, but may require a more advanced financial module. The Route 66 approach considers software development as a continuous journey, whereby the version number of a software package is no longer important. This makes perfect sense, especially in the cloud software world, where we’re all eventually headed, and where clients do not really care about software versions.
UNIT4’s last announcement concerns a new e-learning solution for the Agresso ERP and CODA Financials product lines, called UNIT4 Topaz. According to UNIT4, this is a more affordable way to provide business users with continual software training during and after implementation. UNIT4’s stats indicate that data entry error rates may be reduced by 80 percent, and that up-front user training costs are reduced by up to 50 percent.
SYSPRO’s announcements were conveyed by Joey Benadretti and Brian Stein, respectively the president and CEO of the company. The vendor that provides Microsoft .NET-based ERP for mid-sized manufacturing and distribution businesses has confirmed its backbone development and implementation strategy called Einstein, focusing on a long list of notions such as accountability and delivering on promises, long-term partnerships, world-class solutions, a deep understanding of customer needs, personalized support at all levels of the company’s management, and so on. This appears to be a winning strategy, as SYSPRO’s customer base is very stable and its return rate is impressive.
SYSPRO made three announcements as part of its Einstein Business Strategy 2011. The first is that SYSPRO ERP data is now available to users online via mobile devices. So far these are limited to the iPad and iPhone, but this list is supposed to be significantly expanded in the future. There are multiple pre-built data analysis templates, and ERP users can play with live business data no matter where they are located. Other features include in-built Facebook integration, federated search capability, and interactive products catalogues that give a company’s customers the ability to select and order items. An important note here is that this type of access does not consume database or application licenses.
Another announcement made by SYSPRO concerns deployment—specifically, that a SaaS model called SYSPRO BusinessLive has now been formally unveiled, and businesses can now choose from either on-demand or hosted deployment variants, to say nothing of a traditional on-premise model, which is also available. Depending on the client’s particular situation, the product may be priced on monthly basis. SYSPRO BusinessLive does not compromise existing SYSPRO ERP security levels by any means, and at the same time, allows businesses to tailor and modify their ERP systems as required.
The final SYSPRO announcement concerned additional features of SYSPRO Process Modeling. The updated version of this product can provide a visual representation of all organizational business processes, and can help in creating, supporting, standardizing, and reusing a so-called “one source of the truth” for all of an organization’s internal processes and workflows. Moreover, this product provides a capacity for on-the-fly transformation, mapping, and configuration of processes into the ERP workflow.
Thoughts? Questions? Let me know by leaving a comment below, and I’ll be happy to respond.