Some of the largest Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) application houses lashed out at Ovum analysts on Friday following criticisms of their companies’ software in a new report issued last week. Responding to accusations that PeopleSoft needed to expand its horizons more and break out into Europe, Mark Lane, marketing manager, Europe for PeopleSoft said, To […]
Some of the largest Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) application houses lashed out at Ovum analysts on Friday following criticisms of their companies’ software in a new report issued last week. Responding to accusations that PeopleSoft needed to expand its horizons more and break out into Europe, Mark Lane, marketing manager, Europe for PeopleSoft said, To say that we are US centric is true but that needs to be put in perspective, we do have big customers in Europe so for Dennis Keeling (the report’s co-author) to infer that we don’t must mean he’s out of touch with reality. Lane said PeopleSoft entered the European market three and a half years ago and that it now has 300 major enterprises running PeopleSoft applications; by the end of the year the company expects to increase this to 700. If you’d asked us for a reference site 15 months ago the answer might have been no, but to say that’s true of today is a complete fallacy. And how Keeling can say that when he didn’t ask me for any I just don’t know! He said 9% of PeopleSoft’s global revenue came from Europe, not including licenses to global multinationals. So the real percentage would be significantly higher, he added. In response to claims that the company was too late delivering its manufacturing component within Europe, Lane gave two main reasons: Firstly, the huge translation effort. It took us a year, and 300 translators, to write the software in 9 different languages. Secondly, we only wanted to roll-out in Europe when we had the sales and services operation to support it and that wasn’t in place. But now we’re expanding rapidly. Currently, of the 5,000 staff worldwide Lane said only 500 are in Europe. But by the end of this year the company wants to increase this figure to 700.
Entering Europe late
Lane also pointed out the benefits of entering Europe late on. It does mean that we’ve managed to include all the Maastricht recommendations on currency in the latest release of our applications. And our software is fully Euro compliant, well ahead of our competitors, he said. Lane dismissed claims that PeopleSoft didn’t have a componentization strategy: a way of breaking up the ERP software into smaller, more manageable chunks. We don’t see a screaming desire from the market for components. While we agree that there is a definite trend towards components, at the moment it’s more a case of Ovum overhyping the need and then criticizing us for not delivering. The average IT director or manager has too many problems, what with Year 2000 and EMU conversions, to be concerned about it. He said PeopleSoft expect the market to move to components over the next few years, but certainly no sooner. He did, however, admit that the company was lacking a decent, integrated front-office solution. We admit it does make sense for the ERP supplier to offer front and back-end solutions, and we are making plans in that direction. he said. At the moment PeopleSoft relies on partners but Lane added that the company was likely to fill the front-end space with an acquisition. If Ovum analysts criticized PeopleSoft, they positively tore strips off Oracle; the main criticism being that Oracle had concentrated too much on competition with Microsoft and web-enabling its technology and not enough on its applications operation.
Oracle defends claims
But Dave Anderson, Oracle’s applications director for the UK and Ireland fiercely defended the claims, at one point dismissing them as utter bullshit! The idea behind our Network Computing Architecture (NCA) architecture is to take the complexity away from the end-users’ desktop and put it into a central area where it can be managed by an IT manager or department. All the user need see is the web browser while all the management, including the software upgrades, takes place behind the scenes, he said. He added that having the applications web-enabled also means that any member of staff, with the correct authorization, can easily gain access to HR functions, or financial information and so on, from wherever they are. He also denied claims that Oracle was so obsessed with getting one up on arch rival, Microsoft, that its applications business had become peripheral to its operations. That’s absolutely not the case, he said, our corporate strategy is very clear. We sell databases and we sell business solutions, that is applications. The applications are right up there, as prominent as everything else we do. However, Anderson admitted that, having contributed just 25% of 1997’s revenues, application software sales weren’t doing as well as they hoped. But I think it’s simply a question of mindshare, he said, people only think of Oracle as a database company; most of them don’t realize that we’re now the second largest applications vendor as well. He said that the company planned to boost application sales through increased marketing activity and advertising campaigns. He also poured scorn on the accusation that Oracle Financials wasn’t scalable enough, citing a recent benchmarking site where 1,200 users were connected, via web browsers, to the software. Not only has our network computing architecture vision reduced the cost of management, it’s also made our software a lot more scalable too. We admit there were problems with the client server version, but moving to the web has ironed them out. he said. And SAP AG, the leading ERP vendor, was similarly dismissive. A spokesperson said: We were criticized for not wanting to move to components, yet we’ve done it already, as far back as a year ago. As of July, we’re delivering the first component that’s broken away from the core product. People will now be able to get both our HR and Treasure modules separately. So components are here now and that’s our strategy for the future.