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Marketing and Product Management Leader, Forbes Columnist, Software Expertise in Analytics, Cloud, CPQ & ERP Solutions. Principal at IQMS, formerly with iBASEt, Cincoom, AMR Research.

4 responses to “ERP Prediction for 2013: The Customer Takes Control”

  1. FreeBalance (@freebalance)

    Curious about the “rejuvenate monolithic, dated ERP systems and make them agile and customer-focused” point given that so many ERP packages use legacy technology. For instance, ABAP or PL/SQL makes “agility” very difficult. Are you suggesting that customers are likely to replace dated ERP packages with something more modern? Are you suggesting that ERP vendors themselves are creating modern technology such as Fusion?

  2. Louis Columbus

    Thank you for your comment and time reading the blog, I appreciate it.

    I’m saying that the time is now for ERP vendors to move quickly in the direction of more agile, customer-driven platforms that free their customers from the constraints of previous-generation platforms. This includes providing the following:

    a. ERP systems designed more for how people work in the 21rst century, meaning multiple roles and entirely different information needs that were present when many of these monolithic ERP systems were built. In the case of SAP I am suggesting hat they strive to serve their customers by giving them applications that allow them to align enterprise systems to the way they work. SAP is doing a great job of this in the social software area specifically. ABAP and legacy applications are a fact of life and change management is very hard. The ERP vendors need to step up and deliver more customer-driven applications that allow companies to work the way they are the most productive.

    b. Fusion’s initial successes have been in HRM and show potential in CRM right now. Oracle’s approach to delivering customer-centric applications continues and they even started a Customer Experience initiative as well. This is also an example of an enterprise vendor striving to create enterprise applications that can meet how companies are working today.

    All this has to start with the enterprise software vendors realizing the greatest value they can deliver is in helping their customers sell and service more effectively. The responsibility rest with enterprise vendors to give their customers a clear, real road map to allow them to be more customer-driven.


  3. FreeBalance (@freebalance)

    There is no question that ERP vendors are challenged to move to customer-centric models. You show some optimism, but my sense is that customer-centric processes will be as difficult a change in the larger ERP vendors as rewriting software. This provides a disruption opportunity for more agile vendors because the legacy “fact of life” is a constraint and customer centricity is the new normal. (It follows the Geoffrey Moore view that companies need to be more customer intimate when tech markets mature.)

    My views aren’t that divergent from yours, maybe just nuance:

    1. The notion of bolting on social to existing legacy software is limiting. Separating unstructured data, unstructured data, collaboration and social is an artificial construct necessitated by the software architectural limitations of the past.

    2. The ERP vendors still operate in broadcast mode. They don’t operate “in network”. In other words “social is what social does” and it is fascinating to me how Oracle and SAP talk up a great storm of customer experience but do not operate as such on Twitter or via branding. Vendor conferences are all about hype, holding the product roadmap hostage, drive-by executive briefing, controlling the message etc.

    3. My experience in other enterprise software companies has been the death of internal software innovation, something a former boss of mine called “The Witch is Dead” where companies kill the new-new product in favour of the old business model. Again, an opportunity for disrupting the market and seeing a shift in players.

  4. Louis Columbus

    Exactly, I think we are basically saying the same thing. The Innovator’s Dilemma is alive and well in enterprise software, as evidenced by the rise of more agile competitors.

    Thanks again for your comments,