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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.