Aspen Technology, Inc. recently announced a strategic alliance with PricewaterhouseCoopers
LLP to implement Aspentech solutions in the refining, petrochemicals, chemicals,
polymers, life sciences and specialty chemicals, semiconductor, and consumer
packaged goods industries. The partners expect to leverage PWC's implementation
expertise for use in integrating data from Aspen's control-level applications
to ERP systems.
This is a good move for Aspen, which has lacked a top tier integration partner
for its supply chain management and process monitoring and control applications.
Although Aspen boasts over 50 integration partners worldwide, these are primarily
small, niche players that focus selectively on: a particular technology, such
as information and control systems; an industry, such as steelmaking; or a narrow
part of the globe. It makes sense for Aspen to seek alliances with large management
consulting firms for two reasons. First, top tier firms like those in the Big
Five can offer much that smaller firms cannot: large, diverse client bases;
large capital reserves for funding initiatives and sponsorships; and well-developed,
global networks of vendors that enhance potential for collaboration. Second,
Aspen needs to develop such relationships if it plans to be successful in supply
chain management, a marketplace that relies heavily on the strategic services
offered by large management consulting firms. Finally, Aspen can use PWC's experience
in understanding client's needs as a way to hone its ungainly product offering.
PWC also stands to benefit from the alliance, as it may reveal new opportunities
to extend its implementation management services to include process simulation
and control system projects, overseeing Apentech's technically competent staff.
There is no need for existing users to drop their current Aspen integration/maintenance
partner, unless they are unsatisfied with its services. Prospective users should
view the relationship favorably. The combination of PWC's management practices
with Aspen's product technology and expertise should in time result in smoother,
lower risk implementations. More importantly, the arrangement can help companies
build a bridge between the data gathered from the process floor and its business
execution systems. The downside is that PWC's involvement is likely to significantly
increase support fees.