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ICICI-Infotech's North American Strategy for Success Part Three: Challenges and User Recommendations

Written By: Joseph J. Strub
Published On: November 24 2004

Introduction

ICICI-Infotech has developed a well-earned and respected reputation in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region of the world. Now it has set its sights squarely on the North American market. To reach this target, ICICI-Infotech has developed an intriguing strategy to attract new customers. This research note explores this strategy to assist you in determining whether ICICI-Infotech and its enterprise resource planning (ERP) offering, ORION, makes sense for your company, deserving a closer inspection and careful consideration.

After providing some background information on the company, the strategy is examined from the viewpoint of its market focus, customer focus, and innovative pricing. You'll see how pricing, both for software and professional services, is critical to making this strategy work and is the underlying foundation for the other two components. The research note concludes by discussing the challenges facing ICICI-Infotech and presenting user recommendations.

This is Part Three of a three-part note.

Part One provides a brief background of the company and discusses its strategy in terms of market focus.

Part Two discusses the company's strategy in terms of customer focus and innovative pricing.

Challenges

Having made excellent progress in a short period of time, ICICI-Infotech needs to improve and expand its North American customer base in terms of mainstream accounts and numbers. This will provide immediate help in an important aspect of the software selection process, namely reference checking. While you can pay for the overseas conference calls, nothing beats home cooking and on-site visits!

On first inspection you will notice that ORION does not have the more traditional graphical user interface (GUI) look and feel of other ERP solutions. User-ability has long been a bone of contention with ORION. While possessing certain GUI aspects, the software lacks ease of use.

Transition from one menu to another can be tedious and, in some cases, inconsistent. While you can certainly navigate from one menu to another, the path is not as direct as you would expect or desire. In a large part, this is a result of the choice of Oracle as its development platform. However, this problem is being attacked from two directions. First, ICICI-Infotech has committed to customers as to when this issue will be resolved and is willing to put this commitment in writing at contract signing. Secondly, Oracle is revising its own development suite and tools. Prospective customers must satisfy themselves as to ICICI-Infotech's resolve and commitment to change rather than relying on Oracle to make needed architectural changes.

The total reliance on Oracle, with the exclusion of all others, presents prospects with another dilemma. Typically, North Americans expect and like comparative choices. Some companies have already made a significant investment in Microsoft technology and are reluctant to bring in a new database design. ICICI-Infotech mitigates this problem by providing a single and total source of implementation and support services.

ICICI-Infotech will argue that concerns about a new technology are unfounded since they will assume the support responsibility as part of the standard and ongoing maintenance agreement. The differences between structured query language (SQL) and Oracle's query languages are not that significant although existing queries would have to be rewritten. Can you say contract negotiating point? Finally, Oracle is in outstanding company and business partner. Don't let IT technocrats use the introduction of Oracle as the main reason for excluding ORION from consideration.

Finally, ICICI-Infotech needs to overcome the emotional issue of support coming from distances greater than normally expected and in disparate time zones. With the decline in IT jobs, particularly in the United States, offshore outsourcing (or as it is commonly referred to, offshoring) comes with a certain amount of backlash and concern. Will this concern be significant enough for prospects not to look at a potential savings in software acquisition and implementation costs? There was a certain German software vendor, that successfully brought its ERP package and jobs to the North American shores, but its well-known name temporarily escapes this author.

User Recommendations

It may appear that ICICI-Infotech is buying its way into the North American ERP market. The reason is simple; they are.

ICICI-Infotech has narrowed its focus on industries utilizing process manufacturing and on companies looking to migrate from legacy systems, islands of information lacking effective integration, and obsolete software. The company has attractively priced its software by using creative techniques and offshore development resources. In this way ICICI-Infotech can provide a full range of implementation services and still remain cost competitive. Prospective customers must overcome their concerns about offshore support and use of the Oracle database technology. These concerns, however, should not be considered deal breakers in lieu of the software and implementation services pricing.

ICICI-Infotech's ORION competes favorably with ERP offerings from vendors as Ross Systems, Intentia, IFS, and Infor Global Solutions, formerly Agilisys. Customers that fit ICICI-Infotech's defined niche, should take the time to seriously evaluate ORION because they may be pleasantly surprised by the results and subsequent savings.

This concludes Part Three of a three-part note.

Part One provides a brief background of the company and discusses its strategy in terms of market focus.

Part Two discusses the company's strategy in terms of customer focus and innovative pricing.

About the Author

Joseph J. Strub has extensive experience as a manager and senior consultant in planning and executing ERP projects for manufacturing and distribution systems for large to medium-size companies in the retail, food and beverage, chemical, and CPG process industries. Additionally, Mr. Strub was a consultant and Information Systems Auditor with PricewaterhouseCoopers and an applications development and support manager for Fortune 100 companies.

He can be reached at JoeStrub@writecompanyplus.com.

 
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