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.
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.
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.
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.