What On Earth Is Going On With SSA?
According to the October release of LiveWire, a public electronic
newsletter of SSA Global Technologies (formerly SSA Inc.), once a leading
mid-market ERP vendor, the company has set out on "a major push around
the world to reestablish itself as the key supplier of integrated enterprise
and e-business enabling solutions for the industrial sector." SSA Global
Technologies cites its commitment to returning to long-term profitability
to benefit all stakeholders. To accomplish this the company plans to return
to its core competencies, re-focus on the demands of established customers
in its key industrial sector and deliver new offerings through its Open
eRP approach and strategic partnerships.
flagship eBPCS enterprise solution will serve as the core product and
springboard for enhanced capabilities and strategic partnerships," stated
Vic Shepherd, Chief Executive Officer. "Our initial focus involved looking
at the needs of our customer base and building a strategy that takes our
clients and new business into the next phase of solution development.
As enhancements in key areas of eBPCS functionality are introduced, together
with extended solution capabilities, we will aggressively target the industrial
that SSA claims to have currently been involved with include vertical
industry enhancements for automotive and engineering, consumer packaged
goods, pharmaceutical and chemical industries, a browser front end for
eBPCS and eBPCS NT. Strategic relationships and tighter product integration
with leaders in business-to-business (B2B), and supply chain management
will underpin SSA Global Technologies' delivery of added value to its
customers. SSA Global Technologies has also set its sights on a new frontier
with business modeling and knowledge management solutions due for general
availability later this year.
The good news is the notion of resolving the company's past viability
issue and the continued commitment to development of the eBPCS product.
On the other hand the glossies cannot conceal the fact that SSA does not
yet offer much more than its core unfashionable ERP product in conjunction
with assistance integrating extended-ERP software components from third-parties.
So much for any differentiation in the market!
has been published regarding SSA's troubles that led to its demise (for
more information, see Another One Bites the Dust - SSA Gored to Death,
and SSA: Evolving Into Systems Integrator To Survive). In brief, the company's
all-out attempt in 1996 to rewrite BPCS as an object-oriented system was
ill timed and badly executed. From this vantage point, the critical period
from 1996 - 1999 should have been used to deliver a mature product and
preserve its market share, while introducing the new product architecture
and new extended-ERP functionality in a more controlled, phased manner.
SSA has suffered, over the past three years, a tremendous loss of market
share, money and customer confidence. The Y2K-induced market slump certainly
didn't help. The company's channels, both direct and indirect, were also
all but crushed during the same period of time. As a result, the market
has witnessed an array of competitors preying on its large, perturbed
customer base. There are indications that many of SSA customers are at
least considering migration to another provider, while many have already
opted for it.
the damage has not necessarily been irreparable. We favorably regard the
release of version 6.1 of eBPCS, which features long-awaited stability
and better performance of eBPCS 6. Also, SSA's established global infrastructure
and customer base, strong core-ERP functionality with a sharp industry
focus, strong multinational product functionality, and a relative ease
of implementing eBPCS are some of the company's bargaining chips in the
game of averting its customers from jumping the ship. SSA may have difficulties
leveraging its existing client base though. Companies interested in "e-business"
may need to move faster than SSA is currently able to do. SSA, plans to
offer Web-based, portal-style access to eBPCS during the next 12 months.
We believe SSA is at least a year behind its competition regarding e-business
capabilities. It will need to provide feature rich and tightly integrated
solutions of best-of-breed market movers if it wishes to maintain its
existing client base.
endorse the SSA initiatives announced above, but won't hazard a guess
about the outcome of these endeavors.
The Gores Technologies involvement in SSA's business enforces our belief
that the operations of existing users may not be put at risk. While we
cannot advise SSA's customers to completely relax, neither do we recommend
abandoning ship in a hasty manner. Due diligence and development of case
scenarios, either for a system change or for remaining with SSA, are,
technologically aggressive companies may be better off by staying with
SSA for a while. Nevertheless, be on high alert and develop medium- to
long-term alternative plans for moving to a new technology. Identifying
and approaching your local SSA sales representative and asking for assurances
and firm commitment to future service and support would be the best course
of action at this stage.
the new product strategy, particularly within CRM, e-business and Internet
trade exchanges, is crystal clear and has been publicly committed to,
we advise potential users to evaluate the product warily even within its
automotive, consumer packaged goods, pharmaceutical and chemical industries
sweet spots. Learning about new features would be beneficial, at least
for information and leverage against other vendors. We also suggest evaluating
the bells-and-whistles, price, reference sites within your industry, and
corporate viability of other vendors before making a selection.
existing SSA clients, we suggest you determine what functionality you're
interested in and investigate what the company can offer. Identify the
requirements and related costs to upgrade your systems to support the
added functionality. If you are interested, perhaps your existing relationship
could be leveraged to dramatically reduce the cost of the suite. Consider
negotiating a pilot or trial period at no cost to you and use it to negotiate
a lower price with competitors. An upfront implementation guarantee from
SSA and a list of recent customers would certainly alleviate many anxieties.