From the ERP Hall of Fame, Where Are They Now?

Dennis Byron

I had a great conversation last week with Jan Baan over the phone from my base on Cape Cod. It was about the then-just concluded annual user group meeting of Baan's latest venture, Cordys. The Cordys meeting, called Cloudburst, was held Oct. 6-8 in Puten, the Netherlands. I will blog on my interview with Jan later this month. But something he said about Y2K during the discussion got me thinking about all of the other movers and shakers of the ERP enterprise software movement, which by most measurements (other than worldwide revenue, which continues to climb) peaked 10 years ago this month in a burst of Y2K fervor.

 

Looking at ERP company executives who were thought of as leaders 10 years ago, I know Hasso Plattner, one of the three founders of SAP, is still Chairman of SAP's Supervisory Board, but I suspect he is really concentrating more on his institute or his golf or whatever. Doug Burgum, the Stanford Business School grad who turned his family's North Dakota grain elevator business into Microsoft Dynamics GP and controversially acquired what is now Dynamics NAV and AX for Microsoft, is now reported to be buying up downtown Fargo. This new venture is also not without controversy, according to the report. (You have to dig into the accounting dynamics of the grain elevator business to understand the connection between grain and ERP.)

 

As for Oracle, it's hard to know who to write about. I hope Ed McVaney, the Ed in JD Edwards, is fishing as much as possible in the Rockies, or somewhere warmer if he so desires, and continuing his philanthropic work. I don't recall the history of seminal-Oracle-ERP-acquisition Datalogix (but we did interview Datalogix marketing manager John Cingari about Compiere -- see <strong>What's New in ERP Enterprise Software</strong>?). I never really considered PeopleSoft an ERP company. It was a great company but really developed great HR management software, not ERP.

 

Going further back in ERP history, according to LinkedIn, Bob Pemberton, founder of Software 2000, is vice-chairman of something called Zepfrog and appears to own his own bank here in a very upscale section of Cape Cod. He sold Software 2000, which became Infinium after Y2K didn't matter, to SSA. I don't know if his boat still hangs in the lobby of what is now the SSA building on Cape Cod but I'll check some day on the way over to Home Depot. It looks like he has passed the baton to the next generation. His son-in-law and daughter seem to own a big piece of salary.com if I'm following the SEC filings correctly.

 

Speaking of SSA, Roger Covey is still apparently dodging the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to Computerworld's Don Tennant in December 2008. I would have asked Roger Bottums when I interviewed him about Acresso in September 2008 -- see Acresso's Good Timing in Enterprise Software License Management-- if I knew it was a mystery. All of you who remember the coffee-table book on CORBA-based BPCS 6 that passed as a piece of software in 1995 will realize how tame the IT business is these days compared to a decade ago. Albert J. Bergonzi of HBO & Company (HBOC), the healthcare-delivery ERP guys, is not as lucky as Covey and he's an even better example of the ERP enterprise software business in the good old days when these guys played hard ball. Bergonzi may have done hard time.


 

The Lawson brothers passed the baton to Harry Debes, who cut his teeth selling for Geac in Asia/Pacific, when all these ERP hall of famers were building their companies up on the Y2K frenzy. Geac had bought D&B, which had bought McCormick and Dodge. Marcam and Mapics merged and then split and then I've lost track and it doesn't matter: Geac, Marcam, Mapics, SSA, and about 30 other ERP and non-ERP software brands - but not HBOC - are now all part of Infor (see Why Infor Scores High in Enterprise-Software Technology Importance? ). Ross is somewhere in China. HBOC is part of McKesson. The other leading healthcare delivery ERP supplier, Shared Medical Services, is now part of Siemens, somehow incongruously buried in there with Unigraphics CAD software.

 

There was one important woman in this boys club: Sandra Kurtzig of Ask. A lot of people forget ManMan when they think about Kurtzig's second round as Ask CEO, during which she acquired the Ingres database operation. Today, based on sketchy research, she appears to be a philanthropist. Actually there are two women, counting Pam Lopker of Qad. I never figured out if she or her husband was the driving force at Qad.

 

So back to Jan Baan. Unlike all of the ERP hall of famers mentioned above that have moved on with their lives into legitimately deserved, or early but still deserved, or early and notorious, retirement, Jan Baan works on in an effort to deliver ERP's promise. And he's apparently also betting a good amount of his fortune, which he reaped from taking Baan public in 1996 and later selling it to Invensys, on Cordys. (Closing the loop, Invensys later sold Baan to -- you guessed it -- Infor.) Baan sees Cordys as the natural evolution of that promise. To Jan, business process management (BPM) is the new ERP.

 

I wrote about Baan's then philosophy of how ERP becomes BPM last year at ebizQ. As I said, more to come later in October when I update Baan's success so far in 2009 against his 2008 plans.



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Nov 6, 2009 5:43 AM ERP ERP  says:

"I never really considered PeopleSoft an ERP company. It was a great company but really developed great HR management software, not ERP."

For real? You aren't aware that PS has Financials, Supply Chain, Procurement, CRM, Campus Solutions, and much more - in addition to HRMS. They had all LONG before being bought by Oracle. HR was just their flagship product. They have enough ERP software to offer where any fortune 100 company could be run on PeopleSoft Enterprise apps alone.

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Nov 7, 2009 7:06 AM Dennis Byron Dennis Byron  says:

To ERP:"For real, dude!"

I do not know what your background as an ERP analyst is but you should consider the facts relative to what ERP means.

Specifically I am very aware of Peoplesoft's historic product line and the legacy of its products. I researched Peoplesoft from its beginnings until its demise doing market research for another enterprise-software company, for the Datapro division of McGraw-Hill, and at IDC.

Over those years, I don't recall studying any company that was using Peoplesoft exclusively as its enterprise applications software provider. Even if there were such a company, it was really using Distinction, Red Pepper and APS for supply chain automation, not Peoplesoft; Vantive for CRM, not Peoplesoft; Calico Commerce and other acquired software for Procurement; and PMI, Trimark, Intrepid, Salerno and Campus Solutions, not PeopleSoft, for industry-specific data processing. One or two of these Peoplesoft acquisitions had used PeopleTools in program development so could be considered "integrated" (a key part of the definition of ERP) but most had not (and were never really integrated after acquisition either except in a marketing sense). In particular, it is the lack of legacy integrated industry-specific software that disqualifies Peoplesoft from being considered a real ERP package by my definition.

The proof is in the market. Even near the end of its independent existence, Peoplesoft was still receiving 35-40% of its revenue from its HR products whereas a real ERP company (from Accpac to JDE to ManMan to Mapics to SAP R/3 and probably to xTuple) gets less than 10% of its revenue from HR. Unlike with Peoplesoft, I am aware of many companies that are using these real ERP products almost exclusively as their enterprise applications software.

-- Dennis Byron

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