Process ERP Market Loses PRISM and Protean

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Process ERP Market Loses PRISM and Protean
P. Catz - December 7, 2000

Event Summary

In early October Wonderware, a division of Invensys, announced to employees and customers that it was significantly cutting the headcount and discontinuing marketing and sales efforts for the PRISM and Protean product lines. These products, part of the acquisition of Marcam Corporation in 1999, address the ERP needs of process companies with the majority of the install base being in the food or chemical business.

From approximately 400 people, Wonderware will cut headcount to fewer than 100 people over the next six to twelve months. Most of the remaining people will be in product support for the PRISM product, which will remain in a maintenance only mode. Wonderware committed to deliver the next scheduled release of Protean (Release 3.2) with a planned delivery of March 2001. However, customers were told that they should not expect further releases of Protean beyond release 3.2. Wonderware has put in place an impressive retention program to insure the required people will remain in place to deliver on the committed 3.2 release of Protean.

Concurrent with internal and customer announcements, Wonderware told the prospective buyers in several active Protean sales cycles that they were withdrawing Protean from further consideration in the marketplace.

Wonderware has told employees and others that they will begin to transition Protean functionality to the Baan product line. Wonderware/Baan has stated that this product, to be called Baan Process, is targeted for 2002. Baan Process is planned to interface with Baan's complementary products such as Baan Supply Chain, Baan Front Office, Baan E-Enterprise, Baan Business Intelligence, Baan Finance, and Baan Procurement. Baan has stated that they will provide a set of tools to help customers migrate from Protean to Baan Process, upon release.

The Baan tool set and discrete manufacturing models were part of the Invensys acquisition of Baan in the spring of 2000.

Market Impact

With the withdrawal of these products from consideration, the market for Process ERP products from vendors dedicated exclusively to that market has shrunk to very few options. This move, combined with the recent financial problems at Ross Systems, means that only SCT of Malvern, PA is left as a healthy Process-only vendor. Several non-process vendors do offer versions of their products that are aimed at the needs of process companies; these include J.D. Edwards, QAD, and SAP.

While the PRISM and Protean products had not been selling well in the marketplace, the large installed base means that vendors with systems that address the needs of the process market will have increased opportunities over the next one to two years.

User Recommendations

Process companies who are currently using the PRISM or Protean products from Wonderware should assume that support will continue on a somewhat reduced level for the near term. PRISM users should question Wonderware on the value of on-going maintenance payments. PRISM has proven to be a stable product over recent years, therefore, PRISM users should assume they would not be forced into changing ERP systems. Prudent PRISM users will expand their search for a replacement product beyond that are proposed by Wonderware.

Protean users should assume that their medium to long-term situation is tenuous and should actively evaluate replacement products in the near term. The transition from Protean to Baan Process is an option that should be evaluated as well as alternative products.

Although Wonderware has indicated that they will transition Protean to Baan Process to address the process market, we are reminded that Baan attempted to enter the process market with the same add-on strategy but abandoned the effort for undisclosed reasons. Customers have been told that Wonderware will offer PRISM or Protean customers financial incentives to move to the Baan Process replacement product.

Assuming this product is brought to market on the current schedule of 2002, will it provide an adequate transition path for the existing users? Will the Baan tools, developed in the early 90's provide the technology required today and in tomorrow's environment? Will the approach of adding process functionality to the Baan discrete manufacturing modules prove to be competitive with solutions from process-only vendors or attractive to current PRISM and Protean customers? Users should question Wonderware on their future options and investigate alternative solutions now to fully understand their situation and options.

Process companies considering a new ERP system should be wary of the Wonderware/Baan offerings. They are urged to evaluate from both the process-only (SCT, Ross) and non-process (including J.D. Edwards, QAD, and SAP) ERP providers to determine if these systems fit their specific needs. Special attention is required in looking at both the process and the non-process vendors to ascertain the fit of the product to the unique supply chain and production management needs of the specific process industry and company (see What Makes Process Process).

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