I realised today that I have been revolving around, and been involved in, the ERP industry for just over 10 years. It was in early 1997 that I attended an SAP partner congress in Germany, I think it was in Munich.
I was the new Alliance Partner manager for Digital Equipment Corp in South Africa, having been re-directed from my previous role as a data warehouse (DW) consultant. I had some background with databases, but the ERP ‘thing’ was very different – the focus on business functions and processes was a new experience. And the software was far more complex than the DW applications I had worked on.
For Digital my objective was to position the company’s 64-bit NT and Unix platforms with the ERP vendors and their prospects; our biggest competitors were Compaq (NT) and HP/Sun (Unix). In retrospect, Digital were too early with their 64-bit systems.
The ERP market in those days was far more varied than it is now. I have a mousepad with Digital’s ten main ERP partners – SSA, Baan, SAP, Peoplesoft, Marcam, JD Edwards, Oracle, Great Plains, QAD, Platinum. Only three of those names still exist in the same form – Oracle, SAP, QAD.
The position of ERP in the technology adoption life cycle has moved since 1997. Back then we were talking about how to position Digital in the ‘tornado’ part of the market; now ERP is very much in the mature phase. In those days projects were big budget items, sales cycles were short, growth was in double-digits, and if you were involved in selling or implementing, the bonuses were good and the international meetings were great. I miss those meetings the most – that was when I used to get a chance to catch up with friends around the world and have a fun time; now its just work like everyone else.