ERP Packages For Midsize Firms in the Works

Event Summary

At its user conference in Hawaii during the second week of November, Epicor Software Corp. announced that it was developing Web-based software for managing online sales to businesses and consumers. The Web storefront packages are due early next year according to Epicor, an Irvine, CA vendor that changed its name from Platinum Software Corp. earlier this year. The products are based on Microsoft Corp.'s Commerce Server technology and will work with Epicor's Vantage manufacturing software and its Platinum Era and Platinum for Windows applications, which manage finance and distribution operations. Pricing was not disclosed. Epicor officials said a new browser-based user interface, modeled on Internet portals such as MyYahoo, is scheduled to follow by mid-2000, along with support for Microsoft's BizTalk server, which translates electronic documents between Extensible Markup Language (XML) and other data formats.

Meanwhile, QAD Inc., a Carpinteria, CA, vendor of manufacturing software for midsize users and divisions of larger companies, also announced at the beginning of November that it plans to start beta testing Web-based order management and supply-chain collaboration applications next month. The applications are expected to be ready for customer shipment next spring and will be followed later in 2000 by an online procurement package, QAD officials said. Pricing has not been finalized.

Market Impact

The market can expect a spate of similar announcements in this space as vendors scramble to belatedly jump on the e-Commerce bandwagon. We believe that the year 2000 will be a trying year for the larger ERP players, particularly when competing within the Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SME) market segment, where there is much less patience for the product delays, botched implementations, and exorbitant costs often associated with a large ERP vendor implementations. While almost every major ERP vendor has announced an e-Commerce strategy, most of the actual applications have yet to appear. As a result, more nimble vendors like Lawson Software, Great Plains Software, and Pronto Inc. are filling the void left by more renowned competitors when it comes to SME businesses.

User Recommendations

In spite of massive market demand, most e-Commerce initiatives from ERP vendors are a long way from becoming a reality. Current users of Epicor or QAD should contact their long-term partner and inquire about the proposed offering. Also, both current and potential users are advised to request the Company's written commitment to promised functionality, length of implementation, and seamless future upgrades, before embarking on an implementation journey.

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