How Has MAPICS Been Extending?
Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: July 2000
How Has MAPICS Been Extending?
MAPICS, one of the leading mid-market ERP vendors, has significantly expanded
its product offering during 2000, starting with the acquisition of its
rival Pivotpoint at the beginning of year. Following are the excerpts
from some recent pertinent company press releases.
June 15, MAPICS announced the release of XA 6.0, the latest version of
its flagship AS/400-based Extended Enterprise Application (EEA). This
release offers manufacturers additional Internet functionality to help
them collaborate more efficiently with partners in their supply chain,
along with tools for streamlining business processes and enhancing decision
making. The XA extended enterprise solution is comprised of the MAPICSWeRX
family of applications, which includes:
- solutions that form the business foundation for manufacturers
- tools that enable streamlined business processes and enhanced decision
- technology for integrating B2B transactions beyond the four-wall enterprise
- solutions for secure supply-chain collaboration via the Internet
- tools that enable organizations to obtain market leadership through
participation in Internet marketplaces
6.0, which adds significant functionality in the TeamWeRX, DecisionWeRX
and FoundationWeRX areas, is generally available in English and other
6.0 includes significant enhancements to the product's 'FoundationWeRX'
family of tools such as improved multi-plant and supply chain execution
functionality. These enhancements intensify XA's foundation of basic business
transactions to be more adaptable to the requirements of manufacturers
as they engage in e-business.
were made to XA's 'DecisionWeRX' family of tools as well. These tools
extract data from the foundation layer to help users make better business
decisions and improve productivity and customer service. DecisionWeRX
additions are in the field of Materials Management, Order Based Production
Management (OBPM), Accounting Management and Contract Accounting.
"As the manufacturing
industry moves to an integrated and collaborative e-business model and
as e-business places more pressure on manufacturers to be flexible and
responsive to customer's requirements, ERP providers must offer extended
enterprise solutions to fulfill their needs," said Steve Haley, COO of
MAPICS. "XA Release 6.0 demonstrates MAPICS' continued commitment to our
customers, offering solutions to extend out their enterprises and enhancing
our core applications to provide a solid foundation."
products announced earlier this year are integrated with XA Release 6.0.
The TeamWeRX B2B portal offering allows manufacturers and their supply
chains to effectively collaborate over the Internet in order to strengthen
key relationships and improve their competitiveness. Product Development
Collaboration 'MAGIK!' is a fully integrated 3rd party engineering change
control solution that allows all members of the product development process
to collaborate remotely on product development via the Web. FRx is an
easy-to-use financial analysis and reporting tool, which allows finance,
and accounting professionals to streamline processes and generate the
financial knowledge necessary to gain competitive advantage.
on May 9, MAPICS announced the delivery of its second flagship product,
the Point.Man Extended Enterprise Edition, which enables customers, suppliers,
distributors and partners to collaborate via the Internet. Specially designed
to address the needs of manufacturers, the Extended Enterprise Edition
allows companies to provide secure information access and transaction
capabilities throughout their entire value chains.
extensive personalization capabilities also allow manufacturers to provide
easy-to-use, browser-based access to information views and transactions
customized to fit the needs of individual partners, customers or employees.
The Point.Man Extended Enterprise Edition goes beyond simple Web-enablement;
it addresses the collaboration, transaction, data integrity and real-time
information needs of current e-business and e-service models.
Point.Man product improves on typical EEA models by providing data security
down to the field level," said Linda Brooks, MAPICS' vice president of
extended enterprise solutions, "In the new e-business market, where data
is shared directly with customers and value-chain partners, content-sensitive
security is a critical element of the solution."
claims that the use of Microsoft DNA Architecture and Xtensible Markup
Language (XML) enable the system to retrieve and process XML data sets
at high speeds, and the solution is wholly metadata driven, making it
easily extensible. This powerful architecture allows customers to collaborate
securely with partners via their preferred information appliances-laptops,
personal data assistants, etc.
that it is a well-rounded e-business solution provider, MAPICS has also
recently released new wireless software applications. It has partnered
with Intermec, a supplier of automated data collection devices, to integrate
its Paperless Manufacturing and Communication Software as well as XA software
into Intermec hardware. It has also extended the functionalities of COM
Net, its Java-based customer self-service application, to the 3Com Palm
MAPICS is an exemplary case of a vendor reinvigorating itself and significantly
extending its products' offering scope by conducting a far-sighted acquisition.
With Pivotpoint in its fold, MAPICS is now in a much stronger position
to help its customer base of mid-sized manufacturing companies become
e-businesses, with its wider portfolio of solutions. We believe this was
possibly the best strategic move that MAPICS could have made given its
state of affairs during the last few years.
company has long realized that continuing with a single-platform, mature
product would significantly limit its market opportunity. It had initially
attempted to build an open systems solution in house but gave it up soon
after it realized how tall an order it was. By choosing the acquisition
route instead, the company is expected to avoid the product quality issues
experienced by other vendors like SSA, JBA and J.D Edwards. With this
move MAPICS has resolved the burning issues of the last few years, which
were 1) confinement of its maturing XA product to the AS/400 platform,
and 2) dismal organic growth.
combination of MAPICS and Pivotpoint has the potential of becoming a formidable
player within the mid-market for business applications, with a notable
combination of customers and channel partners. There may be a synergy
from a focus on the same market segment (small and mid-sized manufacturing
enterprises) but with different products strengths in mainly complementary
manufacturing segments. And while MAPICS XA runs only on AS/400, Pivotpoint's
Point.Man runs on Unix, NT, and Linux, which rounds up the set of the
most commonly used platforms.
addition, besides obtaining another flagship ERP system, Point.Man, MAPICS
has also benefited in adding the Maincor enterprise asset management (EAM)
system, the Thru-Put advanced planning system (APS), Minxware and GrowthPower,
manufacturing resource planning (MRP II) products, and a slew of e-business
modules to its fold, as part of the deal. These products are in tune with
the MAPICS focus and can help it mine its existing customer base. This
merger has created a company with potential combined revenue of $160M
and a product portfolio that can run on all major hardware platforms,
thereby leapfrogging most of its competitors in the mid-range ERP market.
favorably regard the company's recent e-business initiatives, which are
in tune with the market trends and its customers' requirements. Moreover,
we condone MAPICS downplaying its role as yet another ERP-turned-e-commerce
vendor in favor of portraying itself as a vendor that provides a multi-layered
solution of ERP transactional systems, extended ERP and e-business applications.
Very notable are the product lifecycle management (PLM) collaboration
component and user interface personalization, role-based features.
only e-business components still to be desired are XML interfaces to Internet-based
trading exchanges (market places), a fully Web-enabled product configurator,
and some more functional B2B e-commerce modules (e.g., reverse auctions),
which have been delivered by some of its competitors like QAD and J.D.
Edwards. However, these are to be released by the end of the year according
to the company.
also agree with MAPICS' plans of enhancing its core ERP products and continued
emphasis on integrating e-commerce components with its back-office systems.
Companies are increasingly realizing that the fancy 'click' side of the
business is a mere castle in the air without a proper 'brick' business
foundation. It still matters very much what and how a company manufactures.
Therefore, the company keeps professing to its users that already installed
ERP systems and their extended components (e.g., business intelligence)
form the necessary foundation layer for the new e-business components.
We believe there is a genuine need for recommending these steps beside
MAPICS' intentions to generate more revenue from its install base.
the company faces some notable challenges. Possibly the biggest challenge
for MAPICS and its affiliate channel will be the management of dual flagship
product lines. It will be difficult to support existing customers and
existing products, while juggling competitive product lines. It appears
that MAPICS' product strategy is to offer two separate product lines,
each providing a best in class solution optimized for the target platform.
Since the product lines are likely to remain separate in the long run,
it will add additional development costs, as well as provide a challenge
in explaining the position of the different products.
company will have to revise its sales strategy of how to optimize the
sales of two product lines with somewhat overlapping functionality and
avoid a likely internal competition, not to mention the need to show 'one
face' to customers. Segmenting the market into AS/400 and NT territories
may not be very practical since deciding which product to present in a
new opportunity may happen to be arbitrary.
solution to this problem would be to reorganize the company into vertical
business units. However, what to do in a situation where, e.g., XA would
be functionally stronger fit, but the customer is a staunch Microsoft
technology follower? Furthermore, MAPICS products can be deployed to a
very narrow set of databases. MAPICS XA can only run on IBM DB2 database,
whereas Point.Man can only run on Oracle database. Not providing support
for Microsoft SQL Server may result in a number of missed opportunities
having known the MAPICS' focus on the cost conscious mid-market segment.
the fact that the market opportunity for Point.Man is seemingly much larger
than for MAPICS XA, the existing AS/400 solution, and due to Point.Man's
strong Web-enablement, personalization, flexibility and scalability capabilities,
we should imagine Point.Man to tacitly become the main offering for MAPICS
in the long run.
is not going to happen any time soon since XA is still functionally a
stronger product than Point.Man across the range. As an example, Point.Man
exhibits minimal multi-national capabilities since it currently supports
only the English language. Although the support for six languages is slated
for September, that will still be very modest compared to XA's support
for 21 languages. In addition, the following capabilities are also Point.Man's
weaker areas compared to its AS/400 counterpart: shop floor control (tooling
requirements, MES, PDM, hazardous material reporting, kitting), sales
force automation (SFA), distribution requirements planning (DRP), and
MAPICS can expect growing pains in merging disparate product lines and
training the newly extended large affiliate channel. On the one hand,
it will be difficult to support existing customers and existing products,
while blending those somewhat competitive product lines. Despite the focus
and corporate culture compatibilities, there is much more organizational
fine-tuning to be performed.
is a stable, old, consistently profitable company, with an immaculate
customer service record and almost uniquely developed affiliate channel
in over 70 countries. On the other hand, the pre-MAPICS Pivotpoint could
not cite any of the abovementioned characteristics. Moreover, the market
and investors will keep MAPICS future financial performance under a very
close scrutiny. There will be an emphasized (possibly unrealistic) pressure
for both growth and profit display. The recent crippling of Great Plains'
market valuation to almost its half, despite a respectable (but 'insufficient')
growth and profit after the merger with the rival Solomon Software, is
a case in point.
MAPICS should be included on the selection list for mid-market companies
(with $50M-$500M in revenue), where discrete, batch manufacturing, engineering
and logistics modules are the main pillars of an enterprise application.
MAPICS is a renowned mid-market ERP vendor, with a long tradition and
a large, loyal and satisfied customer base.
since we expect growing pains in merging disparate product lines within
the current affiliate channel, potential clients should conduct a preliminary
research on industry expertise and reference sites of a regional MAPICS
affiliate service provider when the MAPICS/PivotPoint product is selected.
They should also familiarize themselves with respective products' strengths/weaknesses
within certain vertical industries. Existing users of Minxware and GrowthPower
MRP II products may benefit from evaluating other ERP vendors instead
of blindly opting for migrating to a MAPICS' product.
MAPICS/Pivotpoint users may want to inquire about the company's plans
regarding Internet marketplaces in their respective industries. Furthermore,
companies outside of above-mentioned industries may benefit from evaluating
MAPICS non-core ERP product components on a stand-alone basis for their
e-business needs and leverage that information against other vendors in
for the new added functionality through partnerships, users are advised
to ask for firm assurances on the availability and future upgrades timeframes,
and more detailed scope of combined product functionality. In any case,
make sure that MAPICS or its affiliate service provider offers a single
contract and help desk for all disparate components of its product offerings.
This should not be a problem given the company's past customer satisfaction