Lawson Plays Well With Others

  • Written By: D. Geller
  • Published: March 10 2000



<

Event Summary

Lawson is a 25-year-old company with revenues (as of May, 1999) of $270 million. A mid-market ERP vendor, with vertical industry strength in healthcare, retail, and professional services, Lawson has made an all-out effort to establish itself as a force in E-commerce.

The Lawson Collaborative Commerce Suite is a collection of applications and interfaces that allow companies to build B2B or B2C suites. The new releases include credit card payment services, storefront construction, auction support, enterprise directory management, and two interconnection modules. One of the modules specifically provides a bridge between e-mail and other Lawson components; the other provides connectivity between Lawson's back office products and all kinds of external systems. Previously announced applications were infrastructure components including a workflow engine and an interconnection module for Front Office systems.

Market Impact

This is a well thought out offering with considerable promise. Lawson is playing on its existing strengths to build an open system that will provide businesses with the tools they need to implement complete E-commerce solutions while supporting those businesses that require mixed vendor solutions. For example, one of the twelve currently installed customers is 2TheMart.com, a website that had previously chosen to use IBM's Net.Commerce suite for its high capacity E-commerce front end, but uses Lawson for the back end ERP.

Another customer, American Floral Services, uses the Lawson suite to support its B2B activities with its participating florists, and plans to use it to build web presences for many of them. The customer representatives at the press conference spoke to the speed and ease with which they were able to implement their solutions.

Lawson has noticed a gap that has existed for companies seeking to engage in E-commerce. Many E-commerce software solutions leave back-end integration up to the user, or to the user's systems integration consultant. Most ERP vendors have at least partially ignored these needs; they may publish program interface specifications but not, in general, the tools to make such integration painless.

Lawson, by adopting XML as its internal standard and providing appropriate interfaces, claims to be able to integrate with other E-commerce systems either on the front end, as did 2TheMart.com, or on the back end so that its customers' systems can communicate smoothly with other vendors, whether via the Web, e-mail, or even Fax, EDI, and spreadsheets.

Other mid-market ERP vendors will be enormously pressured to replicate Lawson's suite. However, Lawson has been retooling its back-end for three years to enable it to make this announcement, and vendors who are coming late to the game are likely to end up sitting it out.

Lawson believes that this product will garner interest across a wide spectrum of companies. 2TheMart currently handles 100,000 transactions per day, and testing has given them confidence that the product can scale up by a large multiple of that. The company believes that they can support companies ranging in size from $10 million to $1 billion or more. They will be concentrating their internal sales efforts on their traditional vertical markets for now and relying on partners to bring them other leads.

User Recommendations

Lawson's offerings seem well suited to companies planning to engage in E-commerce -or already involved in E-commerce - who do not yet have the kind of basic ERP back-end that is Lawson's strength. The suite seems, from testimonials of the beta customers, to provide a fairly easy path whether used alone or in conjunction with other software.

Since any company planning to engage in E-commerce will want to have at least a basic financials package and will need other components of an ERP suite if they are successful, the easy integration promised by Lawson is a compelling reason to consider them as part of any E-commerce initiative.

Some E-commerce software specialists may offer more features for the front-end user experience, and some companies may feel that their website requires customized development, but most new entrants to E-commerce will find Lawson worth evaluating.

 

 
comments powered by Disqus