Contrary to prevailing thought, German software giant SAP AG is not invincible. In the retail sector, at least in France, SAP loses out frequently to French software developer Ouroumoff Informatique Synform SA and its GOLD, Gestion Optimisee de la Logistique et de la Distribution, system. On the market since 1988, Gold is used at Carrefour, […]
Contrary to prevailing thought, German software giant SAP AG is not invincible. In the retail sector, at least in France, SAP loses out frequently to French software developer Ouroumoff Informatique Synform SA and its GOLD, Gestion Optimisee de la Logistique et de la Distribution, system. On the market since 1988, Gold is used at Carrefour, General Le Clerc, System U, Match and Disneyland Paris. In several of those sites, including the Disneyland one, Ouroumoff was chosen instead of the German, but Gold also used as a complement to SAP’s generic financial package. In all fairness, SAP still has a gap in its integrated software when it comes to retail distribution. Trying to overcome this, and making an exception to its semi-official company policy of not acquiring other software firms, SAP last year took over Dacoss in Germany for its Dispos 2 software. But then it told users the product would be replaced by SAP Retail, although this would be enhanced. We’re building the retail module from scratch using [Dac oss’s] knowhow. Their engineers are now producing R/3 code. We will see some functionality cropping up this year, but it won’t be finished until the end of next year, said Hans-Josef Jeanrond, director of marketing for SAP France.
Holes in our product
Retail was one of the glaring holes in our product, in a very interesting market and we couldn’t get close to the business of those people, so it [acquisition] seemed necessary, he added. Ouroumoff’s GOLD, which has been cited by Microsoft Corp’s European president, Bernard Vergnes, as an important product for Windows NT, comprises three modules: warehouse management, which includes a radio communication component; purchasing; and store back-office management. Rene Homeyer, Ouroumoff’s chief executive, said that the next version will include a more graphical user interface and a client-server architecture. Denis Cambon, logistics application manager at Disneyland Paris, uses GOLD in two of its three divisions, for warehouse management, purchasing and store and restaurant management, with SAP’s R/2 handling the general supplies and inventory. We are very satisfied with GOLD, he asserted, noting that Disneyland has progressively increased its use of the product since it opened to the public in 1990. SAP’s product, he explained, is very good in the industrial environment and the company is considering migrating to R/3 for maintenance of spare parts. We are actually very complementary to SAP, claimed Homeyer, even though other company managers refer to SAP as the big, bad competitor. Although Homeyer appears open to the possibility of being acquired by SAP, (asked whether he feared such acquisition, he quipped, Fear it or desire it? It’s debatable!) the company may have missed its opportunity. Our sources tell us that SAP France was in the process of negotiating a partnership deal with Ouroumoff Consulting three years ago, before Ouroumoff Informatique bought its independence from that company, but that deal fell apart. Now that SAP has purchased another retail software company and is using it and its data to build anew its own retail module, it seems unlikely that SAP would want or need to buy Ouroumoff. In the majority of cases, explained Jeanrond, It’s difficult to buy a company and get a foothold [in the market]. You can sell out the heart of such a company if you only sew the pieces together with a hot needle, so buying is not really the policy of the company, with only a few exceptions. Even when we talk of getting into the small- and medium-sized business market, there is no talk of buying distributors, but of getting partners. If we got together with distribution partners, it might be that they had parts of a product that they wanted to integrate with R/3. And, as long as they don’t compete with us on the core business, and just enrich the product, that’s an ideal situation he said.