I have complained and ranted and railed about the lack of ERP innovation coming from the Big Two enterprise software players—SAP and Oracle—as well as other traditional on-premise business software vendors. While billions of dollars have flooded into these companies' coffers, how much innovation—real, ground-breaking types of stuff—have we seen from the incumbent megavendors and their overpriced lines of applications?
I have also noted with recurring frequency that, besides legitimate threats from SaaS and open-source ERP competitors, SAP and Oracle will have to start taking Microsoft's Dynamics product line much more seriously. Last fall, for instance, I interviewed Microsoft's Chris Caren about its Dynamics strategy and how it was going to topple Oracle and SAP.
At that time, Warren Wilson, a research director at Ovum, noted that despite still being considered a "newcomer," Microsoft was "committing more and more resources to its Dynamics solutions, and its ability to integrate Dynamics with its ubiquitous Windows applications—especially Office—makes Microsoft a threat that neither SAP nor Oracle can afford to take lightly."
Now Microsoft has found another analyst "believer" in Albert Pang, IDC's director of enterprise applications research. In a recent report on Microsoft's Convergence conference (subscription required), Pang writes that Microsoft revealed many new products, including several still in prototype stage, that will be instrumental in restoring growth to the enterprise applications market. Pang gushed even more:
"It was hard not to marvel at the vision outlined by Microsoft executives, who were showing off next-generation touch-screen computing technologies at the main event and how average users ranging from order clerks to warehouse workers would be able to use the so-called Microsoft Surface device to access reams of inventory data by simply manipulating images on a screen, for example to rearrange popular inventory to areas within reach to improve the pick-and-pack process."
Pang was equally impressed with the brand-new Dynamics AX 2009 for manufacturing that included some breakthrough modules. He was also encouraged by the new products' ability to allow Microsoft's resellers to compete with the "high end" offerings of other vendors while ensuring ever-important affordability.
SAP could make a legitimate gripe that its latest Business Suite 7 launch is innovative, but its timing and pricing and onerous requirements dull any shine. As Forrester Research analysts note in a recent overview, "Most SAP customers will remain focused on maintaining and upgrading the core ERP solution, leaving the broader SAP Business Suite 7 offering to consider another day."
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