Mid-market – New products to buck JBA’s slump

JBA, the mid-market enterprise resource-planning specialist, has launched a range of e-commerce and business intelligence modules for manufacturers, but disappointing results for 1998 may overshadow product innovation, writes Nick Huber.

JBA’s results for 1998 showed a #1.7m fall in pre-tax profits, although this was less steep than 1997’s #5.2m drop. Group revenues, however, rose by 31%.

The raft of products, called @ctive Enterprise Series, integrates with JBA’s main product, System 21, to automate supply chains and reduce costs. Modules released include @ctive e-commerce for business-to-business and business-to-consumer needs, and @ctive business intelligence, which measures and analyses business performance. A new credit-management product is also due in the next three months.

The launch is set against an increasingly gloomy economic backdrop for the ERP industry. Most of the main ERP vendors have seen a downturn in license sales as companies tighten their belts in the run-up to 2000.

ERP market leader SAP has already predicted its pre-tax profits for this year’s first quarter will fall significantly below 1998’s figures.

Speaking at JBA’s annual user conference this month, Ken Briddon, JBA’s new CEO was anxious to reassure users the financial problems were temporary.

‘There’s a new economic reality in the ERP industry and many vendors, including us, misjudged the growth rates,’ he said. ‘My minimum goal is to achieve a minimum growth rate of 15% return on sales’.

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