Charles Troyer, practice director, Consumer & Retail, CSC, explains that while enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems have been in place in almost every consumer goods company for decades, opportunities for improvement never cease.
Can you comment on this list?
Troyer: It is no surprise that SAP and Oracle top the charts in this year’s ERP category. SAP’s continued lead is attributable to several factors. First, the completeness and scalability of the solution for large global and multinational companies is impressive. Second, consumer industry templates are mature and enable implementation of standard industry practices “out-of-the-box”. Finally, there is the “human capital factor” — as people move about from one company to another within the industry, they expect to see systems and processes they already know. This leads to further propagation of SAP, especially within packaged goods.
However, outside the packaged goods sector and in the small-to-medium enterprise sector, the playing field is more wide open. Oracle plays very strongly here. And with fewer large companies left for new installs, all the major ERP players have their sights focused on the small-to-medium enterprises. Microsoft and Infor are coming on strong with enhanced offerings and investment in enterprise applications.
What is driving ERP investments today?
Troyer: ERP investments are in two major categories. First are the “edge applications” at the periphery of ERP and extending functionality. Many are realizing that with a solid base of integrated master and transactional data in the core ERP foundation, they can invest in high-value add applications that capitalize on this consistent and accurate data now accumulated in ERP databases. Not surprisingly, many of these solutions encompass data-intensive functions like decision support, predictive analytics and optimization. And they generate impressive return on investment. Top areas of investment are: Supply chain planning and optimization, transportation optimization, customer relationship management and supplier relationship management.
The other area of investment is to enable global expansion with ERP support. Some are extending core ERP applications around the world using one or more instances. Others are treating emerging markets as less complex businesses and implementing the solutions from Microsoft, Infor, QAD or even localized solutions within the region.
Among small-to-medium enterprises, many are embarking on integrated ERP implementations for the first time. This is driven by a need to replace aging and hard-to-support legacy applications. It is fueled by the highly competitive nature of ERP vendors. They are capitalizing on the maturity of solutions and learning from larger companies’ experiences. They also have an opportunity to gain advantage by leapfrogging into the future using cloud and “as-a-service” offerings.