SAP, Oracle challenged by smaller ERP vendors

A survey finds that a growing number of companies are considering smaller vendors for their enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, rather than big players like SAP and Oracle.

Firms seeking to consolidate or replace enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems often look to SAP or Oracle, but two somewhat lesser known ERP vendors -- Infor Global Solutions and QAD Inc. -- are threatening to take a bigger slice of the ERP pie, a new survey finds.

The Boston, Mass.-based analyst firm Aberdeen Group recently surveyed 1000 companies of all sizes and found that 71% of companies with more than one ERP system in place intend to consolidate to one vendor in the near future. When asked which vendor they will consolidate to, SAP, Oracle, Infor Global Solutions and QAD were the top four answers.

Cindy Jutras, a vice president and service director with Aberdeen, said that among large companies – those with more than $1 billion in annual revenue – about 80% have more than one ERP system in place, while about 42% of mid-market companies have multiple ERP installations. They survey also found that about 9% of companies currently have no ERP in place at all.

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"Both [Oracle and SAP] played heavily in terms of where firms were consolidating to, but they weren't the only two," Jutras said.

Infor, which back in March acquired rival ERP vendor SSA Global for $1.4 billion, is now set to become the third largest ERP vendor behind Oracle and SAP. Infor focuses on creating software for manufacturers and distributors while its former competitor, SSA Global, concentrates on manufacturing, consumer, and services industries.

QAD focuses on manufacturing as well. The company says that car manufacturers, consumer products, electronics, foods and industrial life science products makers license its software at about 5,500 sites.

Oracle vs. SAP

Despite the fact that Oracle is gaining a stronger foothold in the ERP market, Jutras said she doesn't expect anyone to unseat SAP as the ERP leader anytime soon.

"Almost any software company will sell against [SAP] by saying that they're harder and longer to implement, but it doesn't necessarily prove out in some of the statistics," she said. "In fact once a company has made a commitment to SAP I see more commitment being made."

Oracle's share of the ERP market has increased of late thanks largely to its acquisition of PeopleSoft Corp., which prior to that had purchased J.D. Edwards, Jutras said. But Oracle's Fusion initiative, the firm's plan to integrate its many acquisitions into one technology platform, was a problem for some customers at least initially, she said.

"Fusion scared a lot of people and a lot of people weren't ready to do that," she said. "And now you've seen [Oracle] backtrack on that. They're saying don't worry we're not going to force you to migrate."

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