On August 27, MAPICS, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAPX), a global provider of
extended ERP applications for mid-sized manufacturers, and Interact
Commerce Corporation, a division of the Sage Group
Plc. and the provider of SalesLogix, possibly the leading small
business and mid-market CRM product, and ACT!, one of the best-selling
contact manager products, announced a partnership that will expand the
CRM capabilities offered through MAPICS ERP for Extended Systems,
formerly known as Point.Man, one of two MAPICS flagship ERP products
(the other being former MAPICS XA now known as MAPICS ERP for
partnership is seen to enable MAPICS to market SalesLogix to its mid-sized
customers in the high tech market, as well as to offer a complete front
office/back office solution to new customers. For manufacturers who need
to integrate CRM into their ERP system, SalesLogix will be integrated
into MAPICS ERP for Extended Systems by the end of this year, according
to the companies.
the integrated MAPICS and SalesLogix solution, users should be able to
connect or link information from their ERP solution directly into SalesLogix,
creating an end-to-end CRM solution that follows the customer from initial
contact through the sale and after-market support. Mid-market manufacturers
should therefore be able to strengthen communications with prospects and
customers by tracking customer information such as orders, invoices, and
shipping status; track and measure targeted marketing campaigns; and project
revenues. The solution can be deployed not only to inside sales teams,
but also to direct sales representatives, manufacturers' representatives,
distribution sales and marketing departments. MAPICS reportedly plans
to implement and support SalesLogix, assuring customers that the product
is installed and maintained by professionals that are familiar with their
company and its business processes and systems.
another matter, MAPICS' recent organizational realignment will focus on
selling customized solutions, which include various ERP, SCM, plant maintenance,
and collaboration components to address the unique business challenges
of complex manufacturing and high tech manufacturing environments. The
company therefore plans to eliminate the use of multiple product logos
and names. MAPICS is now structuring all offerings around one brand -
MAPICS ERP and its offerings will no longer be referred to by their
current names: XA, Point.Man, Thru-Put, and Maincor.
that end, later this month, MAPICS will be announcing major product releases
for its ERP for Extended Systems (formerly known as Point.Man)
and its ERP for iSeries (formerly known as XA). MAPICS aims to solve the
many challenges facing today's mid-market manufacturer in both complex
manufacturing (seen as the ERP for iSeries' sweet spot) and high-tech
manufacturing (seen as the ERP for Extended Systems' focus). Based on
customer feedback, the enhancements to both ERP solutions focus on three
main common areas to help manufacturers remain competitive:
Collaboration with Business Partners: Deliver tools to help manufacturers
work better with their customers, suppliers and distributors, such as
customized Internet-based core business processes, automated transactions
and system-to-system connectivity, and integrated private trading exchange
(PTX) and portal.
Manufacturing: Deliver solutions specifically for manufacturers such
as supply chain planning (SCP), product life cycle management (PLM)
and configure-to-order (CTO) Web storefronts.
Customer Profitability: Help customers increase profit share with enhanced
sales channel management and business intelligence (BI).
long believed in traditional values like partnership, customer satisfaction,
and dependability, MAPICS has pursued additional partnering arrangements
intended to help manufacturers move into a collaborative e-business realm
prudently. The company has focused on opening and extending its applications
so that all customers' data and business processes remain in place as
they embark onto e-business. To that end, we endorse MAPICS' alliance
with Interact Commerce, like those with Vanguard Solutions Group
for business intelligence (BI) add-on modules, and with Access Commerce
for the attractive Cameleon product configurator, but for its mature
believe this is the right deal for MAPICS, given that the company could
likely not afford any longer time-to-market latency or exorbitant financial
and human resources to develop the CRM functionality in house. As several
mid-market CRM pure players have broad, flexible products that can be
relatively easily interfaced to ERP systems, small-to-medium enterprises
(SMEs) have increasingly been tempted to bolt them onto their current
in place ERP systems. Partnering rather than developing CRM modules seems
to be working well for a slew of smaller ERP vendors, e.g., Macola
Software, Made2Manage, and ROI Systems to name but a
few, and very often it is with either Interact Commerce or FrontRange
Solutions (formerly Goldmine). The MAPICS' target market and
existing customers are SMEs that will not swallow a Seibel's price
tag and product complexity (see J.D.
Edwards Fires Siebel, Hires YOU).
on the other hand, boasts one of the largest install bases in the SME
CRM space. While ACT! is mainly a contact manager product, SalesLogix
is a full-fledged sales force automation (SFA) application, with integrated
graphics and wireless applications protocol (WAP) capabilities. If one
would conduct a survey, the great part of MAPICS' users will likely have
already installed Interact's contact management or SFA system. The downside,
as a rule, is the inevitable integration effort yet to be exerted. While
the mitigating factor is the fact that the integration task may not start
from scratch, integration is never a simple task despite SalesLogix' Open
CRM initiative, a number of mid-market ERP product alliances and subsequent
product integration experiences.
owing also to the acquisition of former competitor Pivotpoint, MAPICS
delivered over the last 18 months a plethora of new e-business modules
and expanded its platform reach from its solely IBM iSeries (formerly
AS/400) and DB/2 platforms to include Microsoft Windows NT, UNIX operation
systems and Oracle DBMS platforms. MAPICS' solutions now comprise two
ERP systems (XA and Point.Man), plus supply chain management (Thru-Put),
and enterprise asset management (Maincor EAM) products. Other recent solutions
worth mentioning include TeamWeRX, an enterprise portal that integrates
business collaboration processes across the value chain, MAPICS Commerce,
an Internet-based, interactive buying & selling environment (storefront),
and product lifecycle management (PLM) software - Magik.
mentioned earlier, all above products will loose their current trademarks.
The above-mentioned applications outside the core ERP backbones can or
will be used atop of both ERP systems, and will commonly be referred as
e.g., portal, PLM, or SCM solution. The above initiatives should definitely
help offset an apparent dip in sales for the company's erstwhile breadwinner
- the ERP for iSeries - (still known as MAPICS XA), in addition to expanding
opportunities for the entire product offering.
the management of multiple, complex product lines, assembled through a
combination of internal development, acquisitions and partnerships, remains
awkward for MAPICS and its affiliate channel. While we believe winning
new accounts will continue to be a tall order, the existing loyal client
base is the company's greatest strength and asset, and the company needs
to more efficiently mine it by doing a better job of selling the broadened
offering, by getting its affiliate channel both excited about the product
portfolio and by upgrading the channel's ability to sell.
the long run, however, MAPICS will have to solve the 'new deals' conundrum
in a world where smaller vendors with older products have to overcome
the market's perception (e.g., the association with the antiquated, green-screen,
AS/400 product), in addition to limited resources and an onslaught of
bigger brethren. To that end, the company's latest initiatives to architecturally
rejuvenate the product via enabling it for Java/J2EE and XML technologies,
to render it deployable to any client device (including mobile technologies
too) in a secure manner, and by componentizing it based on core business
processes, in the forthcoming Release 7, may prove to be crucial in overcoming
the above proverbial perception.
initiative promises to be the biggest technological shift in the product's
long history, and should certainly breath a fresh air into its life. Also,
the product should benefit from the functional enhancements too, such
as CRM (Web configuration), SCM/APS, PLM, and new vertical solution for
the metals industry.
given the fact that the market opportunity for former Point.Man is apparently
much more prosperous than for former XA, due to Point.Man's strong Web-enablement,
personalization, interoperability and scalability capabilities, it appears
that Point.Man will become the main offering for MAPICS in the long run,
as seen from the company's action to rename it as MAPICS ERP for Extended
Systems. It is also seen in MAPICS' efforts to deliver global functionality
in its newest product release. The product includes financial capabilities,
multi-currency functionality, and comes in several languages, which should
make it more competitive. The product has already achieved success in
the high-tech (electronics and semiconductor) vertical market partly owing
to a strong functionality in virtual manufacturing (e.g., outsourcing/subcontracting
and a complex sales channel management), which is often a 'must have'
in that market.
quandary remains in the fact that former XA is still functionally a stronger
product than former Point.Man across the range, and in Point.man's poor
acceptance by the company's indirect channel that predominantly has an
XA-based skill-set and installed customer base. To that end, the MAPICS
initiative to unify the product brand might in the long run remedy the
situation. The unification of brands typically means more effective marketing,
which is a big need at MAPICS.
there will be an initial confusion about brand recognition associated
with the product names and logos, this realignment is a good first step
towards MAPICS' ability to deliver manufacturing solutions depending on
the customers' unique needs. Still, there is a long way to go before the
company will have a repository of components that can be assembled exactly
to a customer's specifications. The positive news is that using the applications
such as portals, PLM, or EAM on top of both ERP products will result in
synergies. The downside is that it cannot be done within the core ERP
products owing to a huge gap between the products' technologies and functional
cloud on MAPICS' competitive horizon is the entry of Microsoft, through
its Great Plains acquisition, into MAPICS traditional SME market (see
Great Is Great Plains' Manufacturing Offering (Did Somebody Say Microsoft)?).
The traditional MAPICS affiliate channel, which still concentrating on
the AS/400 based XA product, will have to wrestle with new, aggressive,
technology savvy competitors from the Microsoft.NET world. The
fact that the existing affiliate channel is not aggressively selling the
open and technologically more advanced system (Point.Man) begs the question
when its global and functional capabilities will be at least on par with
those of XA so that the channel's heart is more into selling it. To that
end, MAPICS' initiative to seek new resellers for NT-based ERP for Extended
Systems should help in the interim until the channel's mindset changes
and it starts thinking in terms of customers needs rather than in terms
of products allegiances.
MAPICS remains a stable company, with a depth of manufacturing knowledge,
a strong customer service record and developed affiliate channel (over
80 affiliates worldwide), which has broadened its product offering. However,
how well will it maintain strength within its affiliate channel given
the recent unified brand; how well will it target the right e-business
issues for the manufacturing mid-market; and, subsequently, how can it
increase the growth of new licenses.
MAPICS ERP for Extended Systems customers should review the above-mentioned
enhancements (both developed by MAPICS and through alliances) with their
local affiliate with an eye towards extending the value of existing applications.
MAPICS customers with custom systems or products from other vendors should
review the affiliate's development capabilities in order to gain data
integration between their various systems. New customers evaluating MAPICS
should consider the necessary enhancement modules an essential part of
MAPICS product and insist on reviewing them as part of their evaluation.
users contemplating a CRM solution should be pleased with what is becoming
available soon. North American mid-market manufacturers in the electronics
and semiconductor verticals looking for SCM, e-Commerce or ERP solutions
should have placed MAPICS ERP for Extended Systems (a.k.a. Point.Man)
on the short list before this announcement. These enterprises should consider
CRM as a requirement during their evaluation. MAPICS, for its part, should
educate its existing user base in the value of CRM and BI and push to
make the entire offering available as quickly as possible.
MAPICS XA customers should be asking MAPICS management when the missing
CRM abilities (e.g., marketing automation and call center) will be added
to the ERP for iSeries product line. They should also inquire about any
possible impact (or benefits) that MAPICS' ambitious product strategy
and brand unification might have on their current XA investments.
comprehensive recommendations for both current and potential MAPICS users
can be found in How
Has MAPICS Been Extending?