Glovia On B2B Reinventing Trail

Glovia On B2B Reinventing Trail
P.J. Jakovljevic - November 13, 2001

Event Summary

On October 3, Glovia International, an e-business applications provider and a subsidiary of Fujitsu Limited (TSE:6702) with headquarters in El Segundo, CA, announced a strategic OEM partnership with FormScape, a provider of software to help companies customize, distribute and manage business documents. Under the agreement, Glovia will immediately begin offering ePublish, new software powered by FormScape that dynamically automates and translates business documents exchanged by disparate systems.

ePublish reportedly supports collaboration via e-mail, XML and fax, enabling trading partners to overcome the complexity of translating multiple business document formats. Whether the document originates from an ERP system or a CRM system, users will reportedly find it easy to manipulate the data for customized presentation and delivery. ePublish also allows companies to securely publish shared information such as purchase orders and invoices on a corporate intranet.

On June 28, Glovia announced the launch of glovia.hub, a private digital marketplace platform designed to take the pain out of global e-business by seamlessly linking market-makers to suppliers and customers regardless of language, currency or operating system. glovia.hub reportedly combines three key elements for successful hub deployment, 1) a strong back office suite of highly scalable ERP technology, combined with 2) multi-language e-commerce buy and sell-side technology and 3) high performance secure message routing Interstage technology from Fujitsu. This technology enables global business execution where companies can transparently transact business regardless of differences in language, currency, or installed backend legacy applications. Interstage is offered as an infrastructure platform for B2B e-commerce solutions with support for the latest standards including RosettaNet, ebXML, SOAP, and UDDI.

Glovia claims that glovia.hub is targeted at companies attempting to execute their business globally. Up until now the language of commerce has defaulted to English. With glovia.hub's real time translation technology, orders can be entered in one language and seen in any other language. Other benefits include the ability to aggregate sales and demand within a single organization, to merge products and services as one offering, and to generate quotations that reflect multi-plant collaboration.

With glovia.hub, buyers reportedly see one view of the company, while sellers see a 360 view of product and service capability. In addition to its ready-to-go functionality, glovia.hub's component-based architecture gives companies the flexibility to pick and choose from a variety of pre-packaged modules. Available components will include: e-Selling, to manage customer requirements from quote to shipment; e-Buying, to manage supplier relationships from RFQ to purchase order delivery; and e-Logistics, to manage and optimize resources.

Market Impact

Glovia was dragged through an extended period of transitions and restructurings that culminated in its acquisition from the UK-based former McDonnell Information Systems (MDIS) (now Northgate) in February 2000 by major shareholder Fujitsu (see GLOVIA to be Resuscitated (Hopefully)).

Now, after several years of focusing on the manufacturing mid-market as the Chess division of MDIS, the firm has recently hatched a plan for taking on the bigger players. This comeback attempt is built on Glovia's sharp focus and expertise for some industries, improved product interconnectivity, and quick and inexpensive e-business enablement. Glovia has long been offering a versatile manufacturing-focused ERP system.

Now, with the help of the parent's company's deep pockets and technology infrastructure products, Glovia can also add Web-based software capabilities and domain expertise in business-to-business (B2B) e-business collaboration. As a result, Glovia now offers, the fully Web enabled B2B transaction applications suite including:

  • - Glovia's traditional ERP system - devised to provide a competitive edge to companies utilizing software for mixed-mode manufacturing (Engineer-to-order (ETO) through repetitive), projects and contract management, service management and integrated financials.

  • glovia.e - Glovia's global collaborative B2B e-Commerce framework - it includes a Global Order Management system which is composed of eOrder, eStatus and eQuote. Also, eConfigure solution which is designed to allow the configuration and ordering of complex engineered products, while the eService product delivers instant access to vital customer and product information anytime, anywhere.

  • - Glovia's closed-loop collaboration product - that enables suppliers, partners and customers to create a private trade exchange (PTX) across multiple, disparate systems, and is not limited to exchanging XML-based documents. It features the following components: vendor managed inventory (VMI), demand planning and replenishment (DPR), order fulfillment and ASN (OFA), outsourced order management (OOM), sourcing and procurement management (SPM), and self service invoicing (SSI).

It appears that the latest tack has been bearing fruits - the total revenue in 2000, estimated at ~$60m of which ~$22m was estimated license revenue, represents growth of 15% and 29% respectively compared to the troublesome 1999. The future should bode well for Glovia given the backing from the $50bn Fujitsu parent, blue chip customers like Caterpillar, Dell, Panasonic, Eaton Semiconductor and Ericsson, its functionally solid and also scaleable ERP system, and its new push with e-business enabling products.


With close to 50 ERP modules, Glovia still has much to offer to many manufacturing and service environments. The Seiban lean manufacturing approach that enables manufacturers to handle configured items in batches of one, and the support for serial effectivity have yet to be emulated by many competitors. Also, Glovia's virtual manufacturing capabilities still give it a functional edge over many other products for the mid-market. Further, remote inventory tracking (e.g., parts stored on service trucks) and tracking inventory by projects make Glovia a good fit for project-based and service industries. However, Glovia has not been strong in distribution and transportation modules nor in so called 'white-collar' corporate functionality such as global financial consolidation or human resources.

Still, the growing umbrella of new e-business offerings, especially its Global Order Management Suite, with multi-site, multi-currency, complex pricing, and 20 concurrent languages capabilities, and eXchange, a digital marketplace for collaborative buying, selling and logistics, could offer a wealth of new opportunities. Glovia also runs with its Global Access technology for rapid and incremental deployment on the e-business side, and its business modeling, implementation and change management engine on the conventional ERP side. As for technology, a wide range of platforms covers Unix, Linux, and Windows 9x/2000/NT, but there is only support for the Oracle database. The product is also Java and XML-enabled.

Possibly beneficial for Glovia is the availability of underlying technologies, from infrastructure up, provided by Fujitsu. As companies increase their global exposure, particularly through online channels, language is an obvious, but important barrier to overcome. Therefore, adding a real-time multi-lingual translation capability, such as enabling customers to enter orders on a Web site in their native tongue, has a tremendous benefit, and has not been offered by many at this stage. Global Order Management System, which allows companies to manage pricing, ordering, scheduling, and delivery with multi-language, multi-currency, and multi-location, as well as tax and tariff regulation, may offer lots of bang for a buck and give competitors run for their money. Many increasingly realize that conducting meaningful B2B e-commerce involves far more than just posting a product catalog and taking orders from domestic customers.


Nevertheless, Glovia's big league aspirations are rather optimistic at this stage. Glovia continues to suffer from low market visibility and brand recognition, which has recently been aggravated by the ownership change and subsequent restructuring. The company has not yet built a reliable and established indirect channel, and, with less than 1,000 customers, its client base remains significantly smaller compared to many ERP vendors. Further, until recently, Glovia's middle and top management team had long been in a state of flux.

The company had also been a market follower in respect of product technology. Namely, Glovia has belatedly tackled delivery of support for Windows NT, Internet enablement and product componentization of its ERP system. Moreover, it had been remiss in opening the product and delivering applications programming interfaces (APIs). The latest B2B products should not necessarily follow a similar route since they are based on a different underlying technology. Given that Glovia has to attract customers outside its limited ERP customer base, the back-office platform agnosticism of its e-business products should be its highest priority.

Nonetheless, the company has managed to maintain its existing customers' satisfaction level while successfully re-inventing itself, and, as a result, it has maintained a presence within the top 10 manufacturing ERP vendors in some markets. One cannot help feeling that Glovia's knowledge of its target market has always been deeper than its market visibility and share. However, while Glovia will not become a dominant market player any time soon, the abundant finances, a new focus and a revived spirit should grant a better future for the vendor.

User Recommendations

Glovia is well suited for project-based companies with versatile discrete manufacturing styles (mixed-mode) within the automotive, capital equipment, electronics, telecommunications, and industrial products industries. Companies needing software to address mixed-mode manufacturing (Engineer-to-Order through Repetitive), projects and contracts, and service management, may want to include Glovia on an initial list of vendors for a particular ERP software selection. The companies that may benefit the most from evaluating Glovia's ERP product are mid-market companies up to $400 million in revenues that are not seeking to implement a centralized global financial, purchasing and inventory management system, but are rather operations-centric. However, due to relatively recent restructuring, potential clients should conduct thorough research on available resources and reference sites of a regional Glovia office or an affiliate service provider.

Existing Glovia customers should review the above-mentioned B2B enhancements with the local Glovia representative with an eye towards extending the value of existing applications. Glovia customers with custom systems or products from other vendors should review the affiliate's development capabilities in order to gain data integration between their various systems. New customers evaluating Glovia should consider the necessary enhancement modules an essential part of the Glovia product and insist on reviewing them as part of their evaluation.

We also encourage existing and potential users to familiarize themselves with the company's e-business products offerings, since we believe that they will be in a position to better leverage their negotiating position with all vendors involved in a particular selection exercise, particularly in terms of global language translation capabilities. Given that Glovia has not yet released the ready-made interfaces to other ERP and/or legacy systems, non-Glovia users should include these factors when considering a wait and see stance with their B2B e-business initiative:

  • The urgency and the complexity level of the e-Business initiative

  • The organization's internal IT resource availability to integrate B2B applications with existing back office applications

  • The level of integration required between the existing back office and the Glovia e-business applications

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