Nearly lost among a slew of press releases was J. D. Edwards' announcement
that it would offer its OneWorld enterprise application suite through
i2 Technologies' TradeMatrix platform for business-to-business collaboration.
Highlighted by J. D. Edwards founder and current chief Ed McVaney during
FOCUS 2000, the alliance aims to give TradeMatrix customers access to
the execution capabilities of OneWorld.
recent move is by no means the first alliance between i2 and J. D. Edwards.
The two companies partnered in 1996, the same year that i2 formed an alliance
with SAP, and the now defunct SSA and Baan. Late in 1998, i2 announced
support of J. D. Edwards' Idea to Action initiative in an alliance that
yielded more smoke than substance. At the time of this earlier initiative,
i2 and J. D. Edwards had over 55 joint customers.
The alliance between i2 and J. D. Edwards is symptomatic of the larger
enterprise applications market, which is coalescing through mergers and
alliances to allow vendors to deliver integrated applications to a user
community that is addled by problems in getting disparate applications
to work in harmony. Often, these alliances are less about true product
delivery and more about making a statement.
J. D. Edwards realizes the impact that i2 is having on the e-business
marketplace and is eager to allay itself with a marketplace juggernaut
that could help it out of its doldrums. A 22% increase in license revenue
in its second fiscal quarter ended April 30, 2000 was not enough to stave
off a staff reduction and restructuring effort at the once profitable
ERP vendor. Competitors like SAP and now Oracle are poised to seize a
large share of the supply chain management opportunity among their own
customer bases and have alienated former best-of-breed partners like i2.
D. Edwards at least appreciates the importance of i2 in the marketplace
and this may provide the impetus needed to deliver a functional solution.
An issue that calls into question the substance of the alliance, however,
is the complexity involved in integrating ERP and supply chain management
in a collaborative environment, an obstacle that the press announcement
seems to dismiss.
Users should welcome the prospects for better integration delivered by
the new alliance but temper expectations with the realization that it
may be merely a political move. An interchange of ideas between the parties
may hasten understanding of issues surrounding the combination of planning
and execution on a large scale. Barring an outright acquisition, future
tangible results from the alliance are by no means assured.