The short phrase certainly has a good ring to it – the old Lawson and Intentia companies were not really into marketing in quite the same way as some of the other enterprise applications vendors. The new Lawson has brought in a number of experienced software industry executives, and appears to be raising the game to suit its lofty new position in the enterprise applications market.
At a recent customer event, Lawson emphasized its new strategy, explaining how it intends to focus on areas where it has the most strengths – the product-centric side covered by M3 (the new name for Movex), and service industry-centric aspects by S3 (the older Lawson ones). Where the ‘simple’ message fits in is that it believes that mid-market organizations – its target market – find the ideas that are being fielded by SAP, Oracle, and, to an extent, Microsoft, are confusing.
Lawson aims to provide vertical-specific, packaged solutions that deliver what those vertical sectors need, with targeted and integrated business intelligence capabilities, and, in future, improved focus on usability. The buzzwords of service-oriented architecture (SOA) were left to a minority session – the major focus was on the industry-specific requirements, and Lawson’s emphasis on its business expertise.
Much of the new message resonated well with the attendees – some of whom had wondered what was happening during the long merger period, and complained that this had meant a decrease in customer service and support as existing contacts moved around or left the company.
Simplicity is undoubtedly key for the mid-market – and a packaged solution can provide this if it is well delivered. Rich business functionality that shows a solid understanding of the specific requirements of particular business sectors is certainly needed – but, historically, this has come at the expense of perceived ease-of-use.
Despite the simple message, there is some underlying product and infrastructure development underway – and this is being heavily invested in by Lawson, with a new offshore development center in the Philippines due for completion by the end of the year. The most visible aspect of this will be in the new user interface, which has already been previewed and looks impressive.
Under the covers there is work afoot to take on board the interoperability needs of its customers, using SOA concepts and standards. However, the focus is still very much on the business needs rather than the technology, keeping cost of ownership as low as possible.
The new messages from Lawson have a lot of credibility. Existing customers will need to upgrade to get the full benefits of much of the new features, and potential customers will still be weighing them up against the alternatives from Lawson’s rivals – all of which are spending more on marketing.
In view of the most recent financial figures, Lawson still has its work cut out to please the financial market. It is making good inroads into pleasing its customers – and as long as this can be successfully converted into long-term stability for Lawson, the markets will come round.
Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com)