The market for software solutions that alleviate strategic and operational issues for capital-intensive industries is an important one, and one that is underserved by IT vendors. IBM and MRO Software’s partnership should mean another step into the mainstream for an area that has great potential, but has historically proven difficult to address.
IBM and MRO Software have signed a joint marketing deal in asset management solutions.
IBM has worked with asset management software firm MRO Software since 1996, delivering solutions across several asset-intensive industries. The companies have now formalized this co-operation with an alliance to address production reliability, labor efficiency and material optimization.
Their jointly marketed solutions will work with a wide range of IBM software and hardware. MRO will bundle IBM’s WebSphere Internet infrastructure software with its MAXIMO asset management software, while IBM Global Services will provide consulting, customization and integration services.
MRO has long wanted to move from being a well-known player in a niche market to being a globally known player in a mainstream market – as shown by its 2001 supplier enablement deal with i2. As the best known ‘best of breed’ SCM vendor, i2 was a good choice at the time, although difficult markets have hindered the partnership.
Unlike many vendors, MRO has long been keen to highlight the different types of procurement that the enterprise has to engage in. For example, if you’re responsible for running and maintaining plant floor equipment, scheduling maintenance to minimize downtime is vital. Keeping the operation running is just as important as direct materials procurement, and infinitely more important than general indirect materials procurement. MRO’s key differentiating point is exactly this: it considers supplier enablement, as well as buy-side procurement.
Despite the economy’s downturn and negative perceptions of B2B, MRO’s recent earnings announcement is encouraging. It has plenty of cash and a low burn rate, while revenues are up quarter-on-quarter and are only slightly down on last year. The small average deal size is a concern, with $12 million in sales to 300 new clients – but at least the large number of new clients can also be taken as a sign that MRO’s message is getting through.
The deeper links with IBM, particularly with Global Services to help with delivery, can only benefit MRO’s cause – and also maintain the steady progress that this important sector is making into the digital realm.
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