SAP AG’s R3 is the most robust and scalable ERP business application package on the market but it’s also the most boring, inflexible and difficult to install, analyst group Ovum concludes in a new report. The research, published yesterday, predicts a gloomy future for Oracle Corp, who Ovum says is struggling to maintain momentum of […]
SAP AG’s R3 is the most robust and scalable ERP business application package on the market but it’s also the most boring, inflexible and difficult to install, analyst group Ovum concludes in a new report. The research, published yesterday, predicts a gloomy future for Oracle Corp, who Ovum says is struggling to maintain momentum of its applications business because of problems at both the corporate and product level. Dennis Keeling, chief executive of BASDA (Business and Accounting Software Developers Association) and co-author of the report said: SAP will remain market leader in the business application arena for the foreseeable future. Its R/3 product suite may not be the most exciting client-server solution, but it certainly the most robust, scalable and proven one. He added, Oracle’s problem lies in the fact that it remains locked in a technology battle with Microsoft, and its applications group, instead of being the main focus, remains peripheral to its operations. Oracle has good products, it’s just the company itself that’s the problem. Of the other main vendors, the report called Ovum evaluates: Corporate Financial Systems concludes that Baan Co NV, with its ERP Finance suite, is stretching itself too thinly, although it praised the company’s clear focus on its core, manufacturing market. On the plus side, the software was considered the most flexible and configurable of all the financial systems, but in conclusion Keeling warned Wherever I go, Baan customers are always the first to come up to me and complain. They’re by far the most discontented. He blamed aggressive expansion and the fact that the company had deliberately distanced itself from its traditional base of small businesses to focus on the more glamorous high end of the market as the main contributory factors to Baan’s weakness. History shows that forgotten customer bases have a tendency of catching up with their suppliers. he added. J.D. Edwards, on the other hand, was praised for its superb architecture, but Keeling said it would take a couple of years for the company to fully come to life. Although it has launched a new version of its One World financials system, he added that J.D. Edwards was too busy working on year 2000 conversion projects to really focus on it at present. While the other main contender, PeopleSoft, was praised for having completed a comprehensive version of its application suite, Financials, sources close to the company have told Computergram that PeopleSoft could soon be kicked off two major accounts for its delay in delivering a human resources function. The report goes on to criticize the company for taking too long to deliver an international version of its Financials and a European version of its manufacturing modules, and it warns potential customers to ask for reference sites before parting with any money. But the report’s main criticism was the slow approach, particularly from SAP and Oracle, to componentization: the breaking up of complex Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) packages into smaller, more manageable chunks. That’s definitely the way the market is going, said Laurent Lachal, co-author of the report, As the applications are getting more sophisticated and more features are being added, the suppliers are going to have to break their products up into smaller, more manageable components. But he added that this process would be very complicated and hard to achieve and that it goes against the whole grain of enterprise resource planning software. Consequently, companies like SAP are very reticent to make any changes. JD Edwards has already moved to components but the technology is not yet mature and the scalability isn’t that good. While SAP claims the next version of its software, R/4, will be fully componentized, Lachal said he very much doubted the company would be able to deliver the new version within the stated two year timeframe. If you talk to the marketing boys they’ll tell you SAP’s well on it way to componentization but when you ask the developers they say no way. It’s clear SAP’s happy to talk about it, but terrified of actually doing it. he said. He predicted that Oracle, the most bullish of the five main ERP developers, would have the most problems when it comes to breaking its application into components.