During a Solomon Partner Conference in August, Great Plains, a leading
mid-market provider of back-office and e-business solutions, announced
a number of new product enhancements and/or product alliances for its
recently acquired division and former archrival, Solomon Software. Notable
announcements were the availability of new Distribution Modules for Solomon
IV, the application hosting initiative for Solomon customers and the availability
of Solomon Desktop, a browser-based portal.
the most remarkable announcement to our mind preceded the conference.
In a July press release, Great Plains announced that it plans to integrate
the Great Plains Siebel Front Office suite of eBusiness applications from
Siebel Systems, Inc. with the Solomon IV product line to deliver a comprehensive,
integrated, front and back office solution for Solomon customers. Great
Plains Siebel Front Office for Solomon IV will possibly deliver the functionality,
customization, ease of use, rapid deployment and pricing required by mid-market
customers. This application will be available exclusively from authorized
Solomon channel partners.
to our recent acquisition by Great Plains, Solomon and its partners are
now able to team with Great Plains and Siebel Systems to offer our customers
a complete eBusiness solution more quickly than before," said Michael
Rupe, president of the Solomon business unit at Great Plains. "By leveraging
Great Plains' experience in assisting its partners to build their eBusiness
practices, we can deliver more value, faster to Solomon IV customers and
Systems has committed channel sales and telesales resources, marketing
programs and funding, and regional product specialists to assist in developing,
training and leveraging the joint Great Plains/Solomon partner channel.
are delighted to add the talent of the more than 500 Solomon channel partners
to the Great Plains Siebel Front Office eBusiness initiative, as it will
add substantial momentum to the already strong launch of Great Plains
Siebel solutions," said Don Nelson, vice president and general manager
of the Front Office group at Great Plains.
channel partners are eligible for immediate authorization to sell the
Great Plains Siebel Front Office suite for Solomon IV, which includes
sales, customer service, call center and Web-based solutions. Authorized
Solomon partners can offer the suite as a stand-alone Siebel eBusiness
solution or as an integrated front office/back office solution with Solomon
IV, Premier and Select editions. The first phase of the integration between
Solomon IV and Siebel eBusiness Applications is expected to be available
in the fall.
Great Plains' biggest mission to accomplish during the Solomon Partner
Conference was to allay any doubts in the minds of Solomon partners and/or
customers regarding its genuine intentions to further invest in the Solomon
product line. We believe that most of them were relieved since it became
apparent that Solomon would benefit from following in the steps of its
parent, particularly in terms of partnerships with Siebel Systems and
Logility. The audience also witnessed the results of Solomon's continued
internal R&D effort through the newly released functionality and through
hints at synergistic R&D endeavors in the future as well as the leveraging
of Great Plains experiences in developing internally its manufacturing
decision to partner with Siebel, although apparently beneficial, was somewhat
tricky in light of SalesLogix - Solomon IV CRM integration originally
announced in March 2000 (See TEC News Analysis "Yet
Another ERP/CRM Partnership") before it was acquired by Great Plains.
after Great Plains announced that it would acquire Solomon Software, Great
Plains and Solomon team members began an extensive re-evaluation of Solomon
CRM strategy that would offer its channel the best short- and long-term
business opportunities. It became obvious that Solomon could leverage
Great Plains' head start in integration and in assisting its partners
to build their CRM practices to deliver more value and faster to Solomon
IV partners and customers.
Solomon continued to partner with SalesLogix, it would have had to start
from scratch to deliver integration, Solomon channel training and Solomon-specific
marketing materials. Great Plains has already developed this expertise,
and paved much of the way. In addition, the strength of the Great Plains-Siebel
partnership (backed by the support of 75 dedicated and experienced Great
Plains Front Office team members), Siebel's industry leading CRM position,
its huge investment in R&D, and its specific commitments to assist Solomon
partners in building this process (assistance in several key areas including
marketing programs, product integration, business partner training and
certification, and ramping the Solomon Technology Centers) all created
an offer that was very difficult to refuse.
the other hand, this alliance will allow Siebel Systems to further expand
its mid-market position, and will further strengthen the strategic importance
of its partnership with Great Plains. Siebel's MidMarket Edition is one
of a few integrated suites available to the mid-market as licensed software.
It also comprises of the broadest range of applications, as none of the
competing suites offer call center support, multi-channel campaign management,
and partner relationship management in one suite.
brand awareness and large customer base within large corporations will
bring intense competition to vendors such as Pivotal, Goldmine, and SalesLogix.
Moreover, Siebel has already developed distribution channels that are
unmatched by other CRM vendors. These facts suggest that Siebel will vigorously
pursue its mid-market leadership.
one should never expect a flawless and quick integration effort; Great
Plains' and J.D. Edwards' painstaking efforts to integrate Siebel products
and/or to train their service & support staff are perfect examples. One
issue will also be the user interface mix of a future product suite -
the 'same look-and-feel', as well as the support for localized, country-specific
Solomon product versions. Additionally, Solomon does not exhibit much
of a vertical focus. Its distributors offer vertical solutions on an opportunity-by-opportunity
basis only, which may be insufficient in the light of the latest market
trends. Integration of the Siebel product will certainly emphasize the
need to resolve the above-mentioned challenges.
Existing Great Plains/Solomon customers should certainly consider the
new offering and carefully determine their needs and/or time framework
for a migration/update, bearing in mind problems typical with major product
releases. Customers should certainly consider the new offering, but avoid
selecting it without looking at what the other vendors have to offer.
We recommend identifying your unique needs and comparison shopping, at
least to use for leverage during negotiations. Each component should be
put through its paces using a well-documented set of requirements, scripted
scenario demonstrations and rigorous reference checking. Despite promised
tight integration of Siebel product in a foreseeable future, the company
maintains its openness and interconnectivity to other products, which
is one more incentive for considering all viable candidates.
for potential users, we generally recommend including Great Plains and
Solomon in a long list of an enterprise application selection to the lower-end
of the mid-market companies (with $2M-$250M in revenue), which are staunch
users of Microsoft technology and have significant financial accounting,
project management, distribution, and service requirements, while currently
not needing complex manufacturing functionality.
clients should conduct preliminary research on industry expertise and
reference sites of a regional Great Plains affiliate service provider
when the Great Plains/Solomon product is selected. They should also familiarize
themselves with products' strengths/weaknesses within certain vertical
industries. Great Plains/Solomon distributors generally offer vertical
solutions on an opportunity-by-opportunity basis only.
seeking a Web-based solution and out-of-box functionality with little
or no re-engineering effort may benefit from evaluating Great Plains/Solomon
ASP offering. Support, connectivity, ease of use, security, acceptance,
and scalability are only a few regular considerations. Current users of
its traditional client/server product may benefit from informing themselves
of the ramifications of switching or not to the ASP mode be.
for the new added CRM functionality through the partnership with Siebel,
users are advised to ask for firm assurances on the availability and future
upgrades timeframes, and more detailed scope of combined product functionality.
One caveat to be borne in mind is that although this suite was developed
from existing Siebel products, it is a first version release. This means
there are inevitable bug fixes to be made over the next few months.