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While yesterday's companies clamored for massive application suites to integrate the enterprise, today's companies clearly want all that and more, judging by voters' responses to products nominated in the enterprise application category.
|Voters had a choice of the following nominees:|
That an ERP application won the category comes as no surprise to Daniel Sholler, senior program director for the Application Delivery Strategy Service at META Group Inc., Stamford, Conn.
"This was the year we saw the broad adoption of true Web-architected ERP systems. Web-based technology is the prerequisite for ERP getting beyond that 15 percent of the company is typically touches," says Sholler.
HostCentric Inc., a Houston-based company formed by the merger of five Web hosting companies last May, chose the Oracle 11i suite instead of buying point solutions to address the company's complex requirements. The company needed to consolidate legacy systems that store information on its 20,000 customers.
"We had to decide whether to use about six point products and write the integration ourselves or bank on Oracle taking care of everything," says HostCentric CIO Doug Allen. "When it came down to it, we chose to 11i to cover everything, because we didn't want to rely on us being able to get all of the integration right."
What really tipped the scale in Oracle's favor, Allen says, was its Web-based orientation. "We're an Internet-based company, so we needed Internet-based applications," he says.
PeopleSoft 8 CRM, from PeopleSoft Corp., of Pleasanton, Calif., finished in second place, with more than 22 percent of the votes, or 46 votes, while another CRM suite, Siebel eBusiness Applications 2000, from Siebel Systems Inc., of San Mateo, Calif., finished a close third, with 17 percent, or 36 votes.
Both are new versions that move the products toward e-business and away from pure CRM, says Liz Shahnam, vice president of CRM Infusion at META Group. A prime example of that change, she says, is the inclusion of shopping carts, personalization engines, and other real-time marketing capabilities in both products.
"These products are saving companies from having to integrate the front and back office," Shahnam says. "Companies today want a tightly integrated suite to deal with the customer across the customer life cycle and provide customers with a seamless experience regardless of whether they are dealing with their order management system, their customer service system, or other business processes.
Sharif Elhilali, associate director of database marketing at Bell Canada in Toronto, says his firm is currently installing the Siebel eBusiness 2000 software to manage consumer marketing campaigns, including direct mail, telemarketing, and e-mail, and to act as a single, central repository of customer information.
"We have a skilled base of analysts who spend a lot of time manipulating data when they should be spending more time analyzing the data," he notes. "We're hoping to minimize the number of steps required for conducting campaigns."
Rounding out the category were E.piphany E.5 System from E.piphany Inc., San Mateo, Calif., with nearly 9 percent of the vote and BusinessWare Transformer 2.0 from Vitria Technology Inc., Sunnyvale, Calif., with close to six percent. A mix of other applications made up the rest of the votes.
Products in this category should gain more functionality this year, META's Sholler predicts. These include timesheet capture, travel expense reporting, and more built-in externalization capabilities, he says. "Many of the in this category are also going to add significant amounts of operational controls and the kind of features you need to implement a true high-availability system," he adds.
In addition, both CRM and business intelligence products should achieve easier implementation and greater functionality in the front office as products mature, META's Shahnam notes.
"I expect to see many of these applications mature in much the same way SAP had to mature three or four years ago," she says. "That means gaining functionality across the front office footprint instead of spending time integrating the front and back office at the expense of some functionality in the front office."
Karen D. Schwartz is a freelance writer specializing in business and technology. Based in the Washington, D.C. area, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Links to all Product of the Year 2000 articles:The Internet on Overdrive
Application Development Product of the Year 2000
Client Systems-Desktop, Client Systems-Mobile Product of the Year 2000
Data Warehousing & Business Intelligence Product of the Year 2000
E-commerce & Extranets Product of the Year 2000