Could there be a resurgence in "best of breed" app strategies for vertical-specific business areas -- whether that's on-premise or in the cloud -- without all the integration headaches of yore? AMR Research Chief Research Officer Bruce Richardson thinks so. "The Burger King approach -- 'have it your way' with SaaS, on-premise, BPO," Richardson says, "is going to force vendors like SAP, Oracle, and Infor to get very aggressive in offering other deployment models."
The cloud rolls in, fast
Call it what you will: software as a service, on-demand computing, Web-based software, cloud computing. Doesn't matter, because business software experienced via an Internet connection and browser is already here. Resistance is futile, stupid and short-sighted. At this point, however, no one (save for the SaaS vendors, perhaps) is advocating for wholesale rip and replaces of on-premise ERP installs.
But as enthusiasm for traditional, on-premise, expensive and complicated software deployments wanes even further, Web-based software options hosted in either public or private clouds will become even more attractive for companies big and small looking for low costs and easily consumed apps, analysts say. (For the record, it appears that cloud computing is taking over the as the catch-all buzzword, but what's cloud-based and what isn't largely depends on which vendor you are speaking with: Salesforce.com is a self-described "Enterprise Cloud Computing Company"; NetSuite, a "Web-Based Business Software Suite" provider -- and they have nearly identical businesses.)
"The supervendors have architected enormous complexity in order to be able to sell across so many different verticals, in so many industries," says AMR's Richardson. "I think there's a need for simplicity, and the Salesforce.com and Workday people get that." (Even Oracle and SAP have finally realized that, though those ships are slower and costlier to turn around -- see SAP's Business ByDesign saga and Oracle's indecisiveness.)
Jim McGeever, the CFO of NetSuite, pays homage to Google for sticking to its uncomplicated homepage when the search world was morphing into portals in the late 1990s. Google's success is, in part, a validation that easy to use, intuitive Web apps are critical to the future of ERP, McGeever contends. NetSuite's "anytime, anywhere access" mantra is the manifestation of the 11-year-old vendor's strategy that embraces UI simplification.