In Conversation with Rootstock Management




TEC’s recent article Rootstock Software Steps Out on Force.com outlined the genesis of Rootstock Software and its cloud-based ERP offering. Rootstock Software and FinancialForce.com (a joint venture between UNIT4 and salesforce.com) announced a partnership earlier in the year to deliver a comprehensive manufacturing and accounting solution on Force.com. Rootstock is vying for its ERP solution to become the standard for manufacturing ERP solutions in the cloud, as discussed in the aforementioned recent blogpost all about Rootstock, looking at the background and capabilities of the Force.com-fortified solution.

TEC principal analyst P.J. Jakovljevic talked to Rootstock’s top management team about Rootstock’s thinking on the new collaboration with Force.com in the cloud and what this alliance has to offer those in the ERP for manufacturing space. Here is that conversation:

PJ: Why do you think the market is in need of yet another ERP provider like Rootstock?
Rootstock: Although many of the traditional on-premises ERP vendors continue to promise cloud solutions, not many have made it to the cloud successfully—yet. Rootstock offers a complete and robust solution that people never dreamed could be delivered on a public cloud platform. Each time we do a detailed product demonstration for analysts and prospects that are familiar with other offerings (cloud or on-premises) the common reaction is “Wow, you guys have really put a lot of capability into this cloud solution!” We believe that companies are seeing real value in having a solution that:

  • addresses the core requirements (and much more) of their business;

  • is on a platform that is at least five years ahead of other competitors (and may never be matched by the competition);

  • allows them to personalize the solution to a great extent without jeopardizing the integrity of the core solution;

  • has a “dial tone” dependability without excessive costs;

  • eliminates the headaches of operating and keeping their own servers up-to-date;

  • benefits from huge investments by Salesforce.com in the platform; and

  • is provided by an organization staffed with true manufacturing systems experts.


PJ: What have Rootstock’s door opening (order winner) features been?
Rootstock: The fact that the solution is 100 percent native on the salesforce.com platform has been a major door opener. From a feature standpoint, the “drag and drop” scheduling has been a major “attention grabber”. Users can see how this user interface (UI) can help them do their job much more efficiently while management can see a method for finding out what is happening now and what is going to happen in the future.

PJ: As a Force.com-based solution, how do you view salesforce.com’s acquisition of Rypple and its partnerships with Intuit, Kenandy, Intacct, AscentERP, and Workday? Are these solutions complementary or perhaps competitive?
Rootstock: We believe that salesforce.com is serious about staying in the front-office realm and not moving to the back-office with competitive products fully owned by salesforce.com. This has been a consistent message from salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and in some one-on-one discussions that we’ve had with George Hu (EVP, Platform and Marketing). Their continued investments in companies that are coming to the platform might create a bit of competition within the community but that is probably a good thing for the space.

To date, Rootstock is clearly the only provider of applications for a real manufacturing company with complex manufacturing requirements (see Figure 4). The joint venture between salesforce.com and UNIT4 (FinancialForce.com) is a strategic partner of Rootstock and therefore we fully support their efforts. As for the other aforementioned solutions, we believe the more options available on the platform, the more opportunities we will have to compete. Because once a prospect starts to evaluate on platform solutions, he/she will generally look at all of them. We believe if they look at Rootstock they will definitely be impressed and we will win more than our share.

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PJ: Are manufacturers ready and amenable to Chatter-based social collaboration? What have your experiences been?
Rootstock: Our efforts in Chatter have been focused on a theme of “connected and collaborative” as opposed to “social”. Initial efforts have been focused on Chatter feeds to facilitate more efficient communications within the customer’s enterprise. We have found that clients are very impressed with the ability to selectively “follow” key sales orders, purchase orders, work orders, and key work centers so they can be “connected” and always up-to-date on what is happening within their operation. Even companies that have been long time salesforce.com users finally are beginning to understand what our Chatter-enabled app can do for them. This is somewhat surprising to us. Folks that have had this collaborative capability for a couple years now but have not put it to work are becoming excited and committed to the concept, as we are now showing the “practical application” of Chatter.

Rootstock’s strategy is to exploit this “within the enterprise” capability fully as we develop specific recommendations for company-to-customer collaboration and company-to-vendor collaboration. Sending Chatter notifications to either customers or vendors (based on changes to schedules, delivery date changes, etc.) is an easy thing to do. However, establishing the rules and policies for such communications needs to be personalized to each company and their business is something Rootstock will address in 2013.

PJ: What were the major highlights of 2012 (customer-, partner-, and functionality-wise), and what do you expect in 2013 and after regarding demand for your solutions across different territories and industries?
Rootstock: Bringing the Rootstock offering to official General Availability (GA) status (Q2 of 2012) on the Force.com platform was a major accomplishment. As part of this effort, creation of the very robust sales order management and purchase order management applications moved Rootstock ahead of any other offering we have seen in the cloud ERP market. Additionally, the introduction of our “drag and drop” user interface for scheduling and capacity planning was a major highlight. Moving forward, this same user interface will be put to work in other areas of the offering (including allocating material, shifting customer delivery dates, etc.).

The entire Rootstock team is optimistic about the prospects of growth in 2013. With the number of prospective clients that are willing to consider a SaaS/cloud-based solution growing every day, Rootstock believes it is ahead of the competition and will have the opportunity to gain significant market share of the companies moving their enterprise solutions to the cloud. Dreamforce 2012 provided evidence that more and more companies will be moving enterprise solutions to the cloud. We saw four to five times as many prospects at Dreamforce 2012 that were specifically looking for solutions like ours than at Dreamforce 2011. We believe the number of companies looking for new solutions will grow as economic conditions improve and we believe that in the near term we will see the percentage of companies that will consider a cloud-based ERP solution approach 50 percent by the end of 2013.

PJ: Is there anything you are at liberty to volunteer on the company's future moves, i.e., new functional scope, verticals, etc.?
Rootstock: In Q3 of 2013, Rootstock expects to introduce a new version of the solution that will address the needs of the midsized wholesale trade (distribution) market. Branding for this solution will leverage the success of Rootstock in the manufacturing and supply chain but will include focused messaging for the distributor.

Related TEC publications:
NetSuite Espouses a Hybrid Cloud in Its Two-tier ERP Approach (Nov 2012)
Cloud ERP Wars Intensifying in Full Force(.com) (May 2012)
Assessing FinancialForce.com’s Early Years (May 2012)
 
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