Lawson Asserts Itself, Draws A Bead On Bigger Players
On May 7, at CUE 2001, the company's annual user conference, Lawson
Software, a privately-held provider of Internet-enabled business
applications for service industries, announced the release of lawson.insight
8.0.2, the newest version of its flagship enterprise e-business solution
line. Included are additional new products and enhancements that complete
the automation of e-business processes for service sector industries so
it will be a full 360-degrees of coverage. The lawson.insight 8.0.2 release
is scheduled for general availability in August 2001.
lawson.insight line offers the healthcare, retail, professional services,
public sector and financial services markets new features for e-business
process adoption and improvement. Lawson also announced delivery of new
solutions and tools engineered to help service providers (SPs) quickly
develop and deliver e-services powered by lawson.insight engines and extensions.
With the new applications in the suite, Lawson has thrown a gauntlet to
direct competitors, particularly PeopleSoft. New products and enhancements
in the 8.0.2 release of lawson.insight include:
Accounting - public sector. Provides early warning
of spending commitments to reduce risk of overspending appropriations.
Analytics - all markets. Offers purchasing analytics
including key performance indicators to drive new efficiencies and lower
supply chain costs.
Daily Balance - financial services. Determines
average daily balance in all funds and cost of funds to determine available
e-Scorecard - all markets. Provides zero-client
access to enterprise reporting and analytics.
for Siebel eBusiness Applications - professional
services. Integrates enterprise relationship management processes
through direct connection of lawson.insight with Siebel Systems applications.
and Activity Accounting - professional services.
Manages project accounting including tracking of daily project activity,
valuing and recognizing revenue for ongoing projects and customer billing.
Application Environment - all markets. An
open, component-based application environment using industry-standard
for PKI - all markets. An expanded security engine
providing integration to Entrust public key infrastructure and
digital certificate solutions.
Module for PATROL - all markets. Integrates Lawson
engines with BMC Software's PATROL solution to provide
enhanced enterprise management support.
for Tuxedo - all markets. Integrates BEA
Tuxedo into the Lawson environment to support application load
balancing and distributed transactions.
for Microsoft Application Center - all markets. Integrates
Microsoft Application Center into the Lawson environment
to support application load balancing and distributed transactions.
Service - healthcare, professional services. An integrated
connection to trading exchanges, marketplaces, purchasing organizations,
suppliers and networks.
- all markets. Automates candidate application and selection processes
with Internet-based system for online recruiting.
Analytics - healthcare. Offers real-time analysis and reporting
on workforce performance with comparative metrics from Saratoga
8 Series is devised to help service companies achieve competitive advantage
through e-business operational improvement of financials, human resources,
distribution, procurement and analytic processes. A core component of
Lawson's software environment, XML, allows the enterprise to connect with
a wide array of stakeholders, including suppliers, partners, customers,
prospects, employees, consultants, influencers, decision-makers and anyone
else with an impact on business, thereby going beyond the limitations
of basic B2B and B2C transactions.
focus on vertical markets remains as sharp as ever, and this lawson.insight
release again demonstrates its commitment to adding new functionality
and solutions that address the needs of the industries it serves," said
Dean Hager, executive vice president, Global Products Division, Lawson
Software. "The potential savings from leveraging e-business efficiencies
are very attractive. Lawson's proven e-business engines automate end-to-end
processes to drive those efficiencies throughout the enterprise."
Lawson has for some time tacitly been a thorn in the flesh of the bigger
players, it has now decided to create a noticeably greater noise in the
market. Having reached $313 million in revenues in 2000 and having achieved
significant mind share in the service industries sector, the company believes
the time has come for it to become a recognized competitive force. Lawson
continues to be a leader in the mid-to-high end market for financial accounting,
procurement and HR applications by continually betting on the following
three tenets of success:
delivery of visionary, Web-addressable (with server-based application
logic and a data structure that can be referenced and executed via a
URL) and componentized products that exhibit an open architecture
and a support for a wide range of platforms - even in advance of
much larger and more visible publicly traded competitors. Lawson has
long been promoting its Self-Evident Applications (SEA) initiative (since
1996), with the idea of simplifying the users' learning curve by featuring
Web user interfaces and navigational tools.
Lawson's advantage also lies in its integrated, omnipresent Drill
Around functionality and its tight integration with Microsoft
Office applications. The drill around feature allows users to extend
their knowledge search at every level of the application including reports
for every data element within the database. This is a powerful tool
that will enhance the user's ability to isolate data and rapidly extract
specific information for reporting or analysis.
tight industry focus and an undisputed leadership position within the
healthcare, retail, financial services, professional services, public
sector and telecommunications segments of the market. Lawson will
continue to concentrate its internal sales efforts on its traditional
vertical markets and to rely on partners to address and develop a particular
industry's needs. Look for Lawson's expansion into another service industry
market (e.g., utilities) and for its abstaining from manufacturing in
the foreseeable future.
involvement in ASP deployment (owing to its advanced product technology)
and consequent securing of mind share and success in the ASP market
- with more than 40 viable ASP partners and close to 500 ASP sites.
Through its ASP program called Lawson Tone, the company insists on its
ASP partners customizing and pre-packaging the Lawson product in order
to provide particular value to the particular vertical industry and
to also bring new business from the market segment. On its side, Lawson
pledges to share revenue with ASPs and not to become an ASP itself,
as opposed to its competitors that have their own ASP business on the
announcements of vertically focused partnerships should bode well for
the company's continued market success. These partnerships might be the
sign that Lawson has begun to address its partnerships more strategically
rather than opportunistically, which has often been the case in the past.
Also, the partnerships with renowned EAI and applications management vendors
will provide Lawson with readily available toolkits for making deeper
functional adjustments and customizations as well as the better scalability,
security and load balancing, where the company has traditionally trailed
the bigger competitors.
adopting XML as its internal standard and providing appropriate connectors,
claims to be able to integrate with other e-commerce systems either on
the front end or on the back end so that its customers' systems can communicate
smoothly with their business partners, whether via the Web, e-mail, or
even Fax, EDI, and spreadsheets. This, bundled with the fact that its
product will run on almost any platform or database and with the forthcoming
product enhancements, prompts us to believe that its competitors, particularly
mid-market ERP vendors, will face a tall order to match Lawson's value
believe that Lawson's product strategy is hitting the bull's eye, one
should not discount fierce competition from much larger vendors, like
SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft, and ever more from J.D.
Edwards and Microsoft Great Plains. These vendors,
while possibly inferior regarding service industries focus, will try to
influence customers purchase decisions by offering their more comprehensive
horizontal product portfolios, by touting superior global presence and
multi-national product capabilities, or by instilling FUD (fear, uncertainty,
doubt) in more conservative CFOs who may cast a wary eye on Lawson's prolonged
existence as a private company. The company has indicated a possibility
of going public, but without any firm timeframe indication, probably the
result of the current stock market slump.
privately held and independent of Wall Street volatility has allowed the
company to direct its investments for development of its desired core
competencies, going public might be necessary in order to keep up with
the need for huge R&D investments. Lawson's competitors can garner these
funds without the need to turn to venture capitalists (as Lawson recently
did to obtain a $40 million VC investment). Further to retain its workforce,
Lawson may need to offer them stock options.
a particularly fierce duel between Lawson and PeopleSoft owing to the
closeness of the companies' focus and product offering. The technological
advantage that Lawson has had due to PeopleSoft's belated involvement
in Web-enabling its products is now all but gone (see PeopleSoft
- Catching Its Second Wind From The Internet). On the other hand,
PeopleSoft's advantage due to a broader product foothold and better product
scalability and monitoring/load balancing may be annulled by Lawson's
new product release. Every selection war will be won by mere nuances.
advantage is still its market recognition, positive turnaround momentum
and bigger resources, these might not suffice for a discerning, savvy
IT decision-maker. The use of a statistically valid decision-making tool
along with careful determination of importance (weight) factors for all
selection criteria will be of paramount importance (see Knowledge
Based Selections). When more than one vendor ranks well within a given
set of areas (as is very likely in the case of Lawson and PeopleSoft in
terms of e.g., HR/payroll and financials functionality), the decision
hierarchy provides the supporting material required to justify further
investigations before the final decision. These include, inter alia, scripted
scenario demonstrations and prodding client reference visits/conference
Evaluate Lawson if you are a mid-market and low-end Tier 1 company (with
$10M-$2B in revenue) within the following service industries: Financial
Services; Healthcare; Professional Services; Public Sector; Retail; and
Telecommunications. Organizations considering business applications (both
Web-based and network dependent) should however consider competitive offerings
too. Nonetheless, using a full Internet based solution could save time
and money on the integration.
seeking a Web-based solution and out-of-box functionality with little
or no re-engineering effort may benefit from evaluating Lawson's ASP offering.
Since any company planning to engage in e-business will want to have at
least a basic financials package and will need other components of an
ERP suite afterwards, the easy deployability and integration promised
by Lawson is a compelling reason to consider it as part of any e-commerce
comprehensive recommendations for both current and potential Lawson users
can be found in Lawson
Software Expands Vertically As Well and Lawson
Software: Self-Evidently Thriving on Innovations.