Navision Enhances Its e-Vision And Looks To Expand Vertically - Part 2: Market Impact
2: Market Impact
Impact of Navision Developments
In November 2001, Navision (CSE: NAVI), a Danish provider of enterprise
business solutions for mid-sized companies, extended its business-to-business
(B2B) solution, Commerce Gateway, to the Navision
Axapta product line, giving Navision Axapta customers the opportunity
to save time, lower costs and orchestrate business processes more effectively.
With Commerce Gateway, Navision Axapta customers should supposedly be
able to work more proactively with customers, partners and vendors. They
join the Navision Attain and Navision Financials
customers who were introduced to Commerce Gateway earlier this year.
Navision developments discussed in Part One of this note include:
Axapta Line Extended
Merger Financial Results
Part Two of a three-part note on Navision. Part
One detailed the announcements. Part Three will discuss the Challenges
faced by Navision and make User Recommendations.
Many vendors with high aspirations for the mid market, particularly the
likes of Microsoft Great Plains, Sage, Syspro, and
Epicor, should be on a high alert and watch over their shoulder.
Navision has indeed been expanding its coverage in terms of geography,
vertical industries, and product functionality. Globally, it has become
one of the largest independent small-to-mid-market enterprise system providers.
closeness of corporate cultures and business models of former Navision
Software and Damgaard (oriented mainly toward license revenue
rather than revenue from services, and consequently leveraging a strong
indirect channels for sales, local services and support, and product localization)
has facilitated the merger to progress faster than planned. Former Navision
Software brought to the merger a strong international presence, proven
execution and a profitable business model, whereas Damgaard contributed
a more scalable, technologically more sophisticated and functionally stronger
product for the higher end of the market, called Axapta. Note that small
manufacturing companies have typically used Navision Financials for order
fulfillment and accounting, rather than for manufacturing control.
head offices and all major subsidiaries worldwide have merged, and a common
Navision corporate vision and values is developing. Further, planned staff
reductions took place in December 2000, well before the latest onslaught
of layoffs at many competitors' organizations. Globally, the Navision
brand seems to be taking hold.
Flagship Product Lines
Owing to the merger Navision now features two flagship product lines -
Navision Attain/Navision Financials, and what used to be known
as Damgaard Axapta (now Navision Axapta). Between the two lines,
the company now offers products for enterprises across a broad spectrum
of sizes-from $5 million to $500 million. Both product lines are technologically
compatible (Microsoft-centric) and have lately been maintained
has not that long ago committed itself to follow Microsoft's guidelines
for application development. The company claims that, by becoming the
first solution that was awarded Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows 2000
certification, as well as by being one of the first to incorporate eXtensible
Business Reporting Language (XBRL) standard and the Microsoft Digital
Dashboard and Microsoft BizTalk solutions. Despite jumping
much later than other, for example, Microsoft Great Plains on the Microsoft
bandwagon, Navision has proven its superior flexibility and adaptability.
Attain Offers Simplicity
Navision Attain is a lean, agile solution easy to implement and without
the overkill often associated with large ERP solutions deployment. Navision
touts that its product does not enforce "best practices," but rather enables
a "your practices" approach. While Navision Financials has traditionally
offered relatively straightforward financial transaction processing, covering
finance, inventory management, job costing and some HR/payroll functions,
recently released Navision Attain is a fully integrated suite that includes
financials, manufacturing, distribution, and some native customer relationship
management (CRM), all in one product.
of Navision Attain/Navision Financials still include its intuitive user
interface and customization tool -- customers can modify the user interface
via a drag-and-drop forms designer. Moreover, for a relatively inexpensive
product, Navision has comparatively strong analytical features using Sum
Indexed Flow Technology (SIFT). Given that it contains only less than
approximately 500,000 lines of code, it lends itself well to customization
product was built using Navision's proprietary integrated development
environment C/SIDE, which includes a proprietary Navision Server database
and a proprietary 4GL programming language. Still, Navision Financials'
proprietary technology had long made integration with third-party products
relatively difficult and had limited its scalability (generally, the product
was used by sites with 75 or fewer concurrent users). Also, as individual
country offices would localize Navision Financials, it used to be suitable
for single-site or single-country companies rather than for multi-national
corporations looking to roll out the same code base to multiple countries.
Many of the above limitations have been mitigated with recent Navision's
support for the Microsoft SQL Server. It also supports Windows
98/2000/NT and Unix server platforms
Axapta Offers Scalability
While the main theme for Navision Attain is simplicity, Navision Axapta
deals with scalability and it is suitable for multi-site companies, featuring
a component-based three-tier architecture using Microsoft's COM (component
object model) integration technology, and featuring the proprietary MorphX
graphical development suite. Axapta includes functionality for human resources
(HR), sales force automation (SFA) and warehouse management system (WMS),
and is therefore positioned by the company as providing "a complete ERP
version 2.5, released last December, supports Oracle and SQL Server
database platforms. Constructed on object-oriented technology, it is an
open-source product (the source code is shipped to partners and customers),
which renders it also as easy to customize, and it also provides support
both for a Windows client and a Web browser-only client. Moreover, the
above-mentioned e-commerce functionality is fully integrated and shares
the same database as the application itself.
Despite decline in its license revenue, the company still maintains Navision
XAL (formerly Damgaard XAL), which is an integrated business solution
with strong material requirements planning (MRP) module. The latest release
3.1 features e-business functionality too. The product is positioned as
suitable for customers with less than 100 concurrent users and less than
500 employees. A typical customer would be a discrete manufacturing company
with relatively simple internal processes. Another legacy-like product
is Navision C4/C5, which is marketed only in Denmark.
In addition to the above, the Navision Research and Development (R&D)
team has been busy for close to two years delivering the above-mentioned
new and improved e-Business functionality. The list includes:
- A new
User Portal, based on Microsoft's Digital Dashboard technology, to
provide users with easy access to enterprise data.
- A Commerce
Portal, built on Microsoft Commerce Server, designed to enable transactions
between customers and their business partners (e.g., reverse auctioning
and online storefront).
- A Commerce
Gateway to facilitate B2B marketplace and information sharing and
collaboration across the supply chain.
- A WAP
(wireless application protocol) toolkit that provides wireless access
to enterprise data from cell phones and personal digital assistants
idea to enable the R&D team to gain economies of scale by building common
application components that can be deployed within the entire product
portfolio was initially tempting, the flagship back-office product lines
will have to remain on separate tracks owing to their disparate proprietary
technologies and large user bases that are still using these. However,
leveraging additional e-business and e-collaboration initiatives for
both flagship products should be expected, Commerce Gateway being a
concludes Part Two of a three-part note on Navision. Part
One discussed recent developments. Part Three will discuss the Challenges
faced by Navision and make User Recommendations.