Computer Associates International Inc’s position in corporate applications is one of the company’s best kept secrets and something of an accident. There has clearly been a strategy behind CA’s systems management and database products, but its business applications line-up appears to owe more to luck than design. For more than a decade, CA bought struggling […]
Computer Associates International Inc’s position in corporate applications is one of the company’s best kept secrets and something of an accident. There has clearly been a strategy behind CA’s systems management and database products, but its business applications line-up appears to owe more to luck than design. For more than a decade, CA bought struggling companies, confident that cost-cutting, raising support costs and heavy cross selling would turn them around. Among its acquisitions were Pansophic, with its AS/400-based PRMS manufacturing systems; Software International, with its highly regarded but slow-selling Masterpiece package for high-end systems; and ASK Ingres, with the Ingres database and the Manman manufacturing software. Before 1996/7, these products received little management attention, and many users switched to other vendors. But over the past two years, CA has begun to reorganize these products and to re- invest. Executives have been given far more autonomy. The Masterpiece financial package is now part of the semi-autonomous Prestige Software division; Manman and a related product, Maxcim (for computer integrated manufacturing), are now part of the Manufacturing Knowledge suite from the MK Group; and the PRMS package, along with packages for engineering and distribution, is now part of Acacia Technologies, which sells products for the IBM AS/400 computer. CA does not give financial details for these subsidiaries, but overall, applications sales are estimated at over $800m. The biggest single product, in terms of revenue, is probably Masterpiece, for which CA VP Abram Azagury last year claimed 2,500 customers worldwide and $120m in revenues. Most of these customers predate the rise of SAP’s R/3, which integrated financial and manufacturing functions into one client/server environment. CA admits it is too late to build a client/server system, and is trying to develop Masterpiece as a powerful host- based financial system for customers with complex cost structures. The front end will, ideally, be a Java-based browser CA claims a lead in this technology. The other divisions, too, claim a renaissance, with modernized packages, increased openness, and the use of the internet and other powerful user interfaces. It is hard to find analysts that closely follow CA. One problem is that it and its products are fragmented, when other vendors are increasing integration and providing ‘componentized’ all-in-one suites. At last year’s CA World event, executives hinted at tighter integration between packages, but for technical and business reasons, this is clearly some way off.
Computer Business Review.