CDC Software + Consona = Aptean (Or: New Bottles for Old Wines)

August 2012 started with the announcement of the merger of Consona Corporation and CDC Software under the name Aptean. The new brand, announced on August 7, signifies the coming together of two leading enterprise application software companies.

At first glance, this merger looks like a mini Infor (reminiscent of Infor’s aggressive consolidation days) or a mini Sage. After finally getting out from under the delinquent and bankrupt former parent company, CDC Software needed to be part of a bigger company. On the other hand, Battery Ventures and other investors have put so much cash into Consona over the years that unloading it was the only way out in this economy (some might even be wondering whether they broke even on the deal). Somewhat ironically, Onyx and Pivotal CRM products are apparently meant to be together after all (you might remember the unsuccessful hostile Onyx Corporation takeover saga by CDC Corporation several years ago).

Merger of Two Equals?

Although most of the Aptean management team seem to have connections to CDC, the company spokesperson maintains that this is a merger of two equals under a single ownership (Vista Equity Partners). While the overarching company name has changed, the plan is to maintain the brand names of all of the product lines, and to continue investing in and supporting all of the CDC and Consona solutions. The guiding principle for the new company will be to protect and support the assets and investments customers have already made, and leverage its new combined synergies to extend and innovate with combined technology and solutions.

At least on paper, with a greater market presence and an extension of the two former vendors’ offerings, Aptean seems positioned to offer a well-rounded portfolio of solutions in existing and new markets today and into the future. Here are some key benefits of the new Aptean, as cited by COO Scott Malia (a Made2Manage ERP and Consona ERP veteran):

• comprehensive solutions that span a number of industries including financial services, manufacturing, distribution, high tech and professional services
• greater development and innovation capabilities via the leveraging of existing technology, a record of success, and the domain expertise of the combined team
• a significant investment in R&D and product roadmaps across all geographies and markets served
• improved scale and ability to serve customer needs across all geographies and market segments
• access to new solutions from a single vendor—increasing efficiency, and reducing complexity, risk, and cost
• continued enhancement and support for all existing products.

As part of the new Aptean, Malia is emphasizing the commitment to even deeper and broader relationships with its customers. This means regular communication and ongoing collaboration around product roadmaps, as well as development of high-quality solutions creating measurable results. Aptean does expect to strengthen solution offerings and cross-sell as appropriate, as well as enter new markets. I look forward to having a very first formal briefing with Aptean for further details on the status of the company’s integration plans, as well as insight into individual product roadmaps.

The Future Should Be… Interesting

While I have no skin in this game (and thus no need for gleeful gloating à la Ned Lilly, CEO of competing xTuple and the main ERP Graveyard blogger), I do not envy the person who will have to rationalize the two merging product portfolios. By way of only scratching the surface, CDC’s most prominent product offering are as follows:

• Ross Enterprise for process ERP [download the TEC Certification Report now]
• CDC Factory for manufacturing intelligence
• Pivotal CRM
• Catalyst for warehouse management
• a plethora of cloud apps, most notably TradeBeam for global trade management (GTM)

On the Consona side, there are Made2Manage and Intuitive Manufacturing, both generic discrete ERP systems (in whose company is also the Configure Solutions quote-to-order [Q2O] offering), and then Encompix, DTR Plastics, Relevant Business Systems, Paradigm, Axis, etc., all very industry-based ERP systems. Then comes the separate CRM division (focusing on the customer service part of CRM) with Onyx CRM, Knova knowledge management (KM), SupportSoft, etc. Last but not least, there is Compiere, an open-source distribution ERP, which Consona was grooming as a next-generation cloud ERP platform.

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