J.D. Edwards talks up e-comm at Focus

ERP vendor J.D. Edwards & Co. has joined the ranks of its competitors in grabbing on to the e-commerce lifeline.

The ERP vendor outlined plans for its e-business strategy at Focus ’99 in Denver, where nearly 7,500 people gathered for the user group conference.

“E-business is not a new product area, it’s not a new technology, it’s not a lot of things. But what it is, is a reality,” said Doug Massengill, president and CEO of Denver-based J.D. Edwards & Company.

“The World Wide Web and Internet capabilities are going to bring organizations closer and closer together. What we want to do is make sure that our software products and our solutions address this issue for you.”

J.D. Edwards announced partnerships with both Ariba Technologies Inc. and Siebel Systems Inc. and voiced its intent to resell and integrate both on-line procurement software developed by Ariba and Siebel’s sales applications with its OneWorld business software.

According to the company, the integration with Siebel’s Web-based architecture will allow customers to share information between OneWorld enterprise applications and Siebel’s front office software.

Joshua Greenbaum, principal of Enterprise Applications Consulting in Berkeley, Calif., said both partnerships are going to extend OneWorld functionality into new areas.

“In the case of Ariba this is a pretty significant, market-leading procurement product for customers looking to set up that kind of electronic procurement system…likewise with Siebel. Siebel is a market-leading CRM package,” he said.

“On a pure technology strategy side this gives J.D. Edwards’ customers two of the best-of-breed products in their respective areas.”

As far as the partnership with Siebel goes, however, there seems to be some question as to who comes up the bigger winner.

Kyle Pond, senior ERP analyst with Gartner Group Inc. in Stamford, Conn., said J.D. Edwards “is going to be reselling it so Siebel is going to be the big winner there because Siebel doesn’t have to penetrate all of J. D. Edwards’ accounts. In a way, J.D. Edwards can help resell Siebel with little work from Siebel.”

Greenbaum agreed, expressing concern that J.D. Edwards may be giving Siebel access to “the keys to the store” but “not necessarily getting that much back from it.”

Because the J.D. Edwards’ customer base is at a lower tier in the market, there is an opportunity for Siebel to get into a customer base in the mid-market that it doesn’t have right now, Greenbaum said. “I think in the long run there is a major danger for J.D. Edwards.”

And although the move is a good strategic defense that will help J.D. Edwards compete against competitors SAP and Oracle, the reach of both products is still relatively limited, Greenbaum said.

“Both these products require one way or another that the customers be OneWorld customers, and there is only about 300 OneWorld customers so they’ve definitely got some market for this, but it isn’t going to be high-volume sales for them initially.”

Other announcements included the acquisition of supply chain vendor Numetrix Limited in Toronto, a portal strategy based on the company’s ActivEra architecture due for release this fall, and support for Microsoft’s BizTalk framework already endorsed by rivals SAP and PeopleSoft.

According to Paul Barker, J.D. Edwards’ director of technical marketing, the company suggests customers approach an e-business strategy at their own speed. Right now, he said, “what’s holding this whole thing back is Y2K.”

But for Greenbaum, the tendency to fall back on Y2K “is a little too convenient for everybody.

“Essentially half the customer base is thinking at this moment that there is something they might want to be doing in e-business, but it’s going to be a slow, uphill fight,” he said.

That said, however, companies in a retail or business-to-consumer mode “are looking at what Amazon has done to Barnes & Noble and what Dell has done to Compaq and there’s the fear that that might happen to them too,” Greenbaum said.