Should Should interBiz Mean Intelligence And Prediction Beyond ERP?
Part 2: Challenges and Market Impact
In October and November, interBiz, the eBusiness applications division
of Computer Associates International, Inc. (NYSE: CA), expanded its back-office
solutions with the announcement of product enhancements and a free benchmarking
service. The announcements were:
- A free
benchmarking service for businesses in durable goods industries
availability of MK Manufacturing version 8.4
Services Plans which provide maintenance for modifications and the migration
of modifications to new versions of interBiz software applications
Two of a two-part note, discusses the Challenges faced by interBiz and
makes User Recommendations. Part
One discussed these announcements and their Market Impact.
However, while espousing a prudent e-business strategy in line with post-
ERP inter-enterprise realities and the need for interconnectivity, and
while adding new functionality, interBiz has had an uphill battle to allay
the perception of poor marketing owing to problems stemming from ongoing
re-branding of the collection of older generation ERP products that includes
MANMAN, PRMS, CAS, and MAXCIM.
the BizWork initiative has breathed a fresh air into venerable but almost
antiquated applications, interBiz must rebuild somewhat lagging momentum
by attracting new users. Playing to its strengths by capitalizing on CA's
huge investment in enterprise infrastructure management and business intelligence
component, including predictive and pattern matching intelligent technologies
makes sense. Additionally, BizWorks ability to integrate both interBiz
and third-party applications across the supply-chain becomes a compelling
extended-ERP tack. Unfortunately, the effort of tying these technologies
back to a fragmented set of ERP applications has been colossal, likely
marginalizing CA's ability to become a prominent market player.
of an unfocused, multi-product and multi-technology strategy in the markets
with diverse dynamics typically multiplies and overstretches sales, R&D,
and service & support resources jeopardizing the chances its products
could stand a chance of long-term success in their respective niches.
Geac, Epicor, Ross Systems are examples of
companies where this strategy has failed: all have had to resort to divestiture
and to a focus on core competencies.
While the announced premium service plans certainly give customers peace
of mind and raise the bar for competitors' service & support value propositions,
interBiz should consider making some bold decisions on the level of integration
of the applications, possibly with a plan for developing a cross-application
backbone (foundation set of common components). The market typically prefers
a total solution to a "sum of the parts".
the Postive Side
InterBiz remains one of the most widely used of the upper-mid-range ERP
vendors. Although it could have leveraged much better its infrastructure
customer base to promote its enterprise applications (like Oracle
or IBM have done in their respective database, server and middleware
strongholds), interBiz has done much more to rejuvenate its acquired enterprise
applications arsenal than, e.g., Geac has done to its. The job of disseminating
a clear message which market the combined set of products has been targeting,
as well as of delivering a strong CRM and private trade exchange (PTX)
offering remains notwithstanding.
InterBiz's ERP systems are basically more suited for discrete manufacturing
companies with versatile manufacturing styles (mixed-mode), although PRMS
and MANMAN exhibit a good fit for some process manufacturing enterprises.
The company targets high-tech/electronics, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals,
mechanical engineering and distribution industries. Multi-national companies
needing software to address mixed-mode manufacturing (Engineer-to-Order
through Repetitive), projects and contracts, and service management, with
strong logistics and warehousing requirements may want to include interBiz
on an initial list of vendors for a particular ERP software selection.
companies that may benefit the most from evaluating interBiz are upper
mid-market companies with over $75 million in revenues that are not seeking
to implement a strong CRM product, but are in need for SCM, e-procurement,
workflow, business intelligence and key performance indicators (KPI) reporting
interBiz customers with installed financial management, logistics, HR,
manufacturing, or banking applications should review the above-mentioned
enhancements, as well as the BizWork framework with their local representative
in order to extend the value of existing applications. interBiz customers
with custom systems or products from other vendors should exercise the
privilege of the offered premium service & support contracts in order
to preserve data integration between their various systems and future
also encourage existing and potential users to familiarize themselves
with the company's e-business products offerings, since we believe that
they will be in a position to better leverage their negotiating position
with all vendors involved in a particular selection exercise. One should
inquire with interBiz which 'wrappers' for which popular business applications
are available. Adding new interBiz applications to an enterprise that
already uses Unicenter TGN infrastructure "plumbing' will likely require
no significant effort. Users will benefit from approaching interBiz and
informing themselves about what the company plans for future service &
support (or divestiture and/or product stabilization?) of its individual
ERP products and what the ramifications of migrating (or not) to its new
product offering and service plans would be.
customers that need information visibility within the value chain should
carefully define what they need -visibility of exceptions only, of all
events, or of entire business processes, in real-time or batch mode, and
from what data sources (internal, external, or both). If fully automated
resolution is required, question whether the product has a business process
integration system embedded. Otherwise, look for one that can reach people
through multiple communication channels and has a built-in escalation
for Neugents, some artificial intelligence (AI) sources warn that they
work well but are limited in accuracy by the amount of historical data
available to 'train' the neural network. As long as there is a representative
sample of data containing all the possible fault conditions then the detection
engine should work satisfactorily. Also, as these can only detect problems
that have been present in the past, new problems could go undetected or
unclassified, requiring occasional user intervention.