Softworld – ERP and e-commerce take centre stage

Software suppliers Scala and Systems Union are set to unveil new business intelligence and electronic commerce features at the Softworld exhibition next week, as the battle for mid-market supremacy intensifies.

E-commerce and analytical software look set to dominate the year ahead, as middle-rank vendors come under attack from enterprise resource giants such as SAP and PeopleSoft.

Systems Union will be previewing SunSystems, Version 5 – due to be released later this spring. The new version features an online tool, Vision Executive, which lets users drill down into financial information across the company.

It can also access the accountancy system directly and transfer data into Excel spreadsheets.

Julian Harper, UK managing director of Systems Union, said the package’s underlying object-oriented design did not change the functionality for the user, but made it easier to integrate Web and workflow add-ons.

He added that the company’s upgraded implementation consulting programme, PQIS Version 4, would help Systems Union compete against ERP giants such as SAP.

‘Global customers of ours like Unilever use SAP in a two-tier vendor strategy, but their products aren’t designed for rapid implementation,’ said Harper.

Harper stressed that Version 5 would also deliver more sophisticated euro-compliance. ‘The euro requirements for software have been bedding down as the software has been developed.

As a result, it will meet requirements more elegantly – especially for dual currency,’ he said.

Elsewhere in the mid-market, Scala has launched a business-to-business e-commerce toolkit called Scala 5-e Solutions. Part of the Scala 5.1 package, the e-commerce suite includes an ‘ordering module’ that will allow customers to check their credit status and place orders online. The module is Microsoft Back Office-compatible.

Tetra, the UK developer currently the subject of an offer from the Lynx Group, has also jumped aboard the Web bandwagon, with plans to launch a Web-enabled module next month for its C/S3 ERP package. Hosted on Windows NT or Unix servers, the soft-ware can be accessed using a standard browser.

‘If you upgrade the software on the server you don’t have to upgrade all the other machines,’ said Andrew Yuille, vice-president of corporate marketing for Tetra.

‘The other advantage is if you’re a small operation with lots of remote offices. All you need to access the accounts is an Internet link.’

Tetra also has another Internet product in the pipeline.

E-Business, a programming interface, is scheduled for release mid-year and will let users develop a website and process customer orders in real time. All transactions are automatically reflected in the CS/3 ERP suite.

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