The ERP world is not flat

I noticed a press release from a major SYSPRO reseller in the UK that they are adding the Microsoft Dynamics AX solution to their offerings as it is “one of the fastest growing technologies in Microsoft’s ERP software suite, with sales of Dynamics AX increasing by 75% last year alone in the UK.” As I have written before – e.g. here and here – Microsoft Dynamics performance in the ERP market seems to be very patchy.

The press release seems to support a view I have that ERP is becoming regionalised; or to put it another way, the ERP world is not flat. 

The ‘flat world’ concept came from Thomas Friedman’s best-seller “The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century”, which claimed that the world’s competitive landscape has been flattened by increasing globalisation and reduced power of states. In my opinion, this was a very US-centric perspective. Fortunately, there is now a contrary view appearing – Acting Globally but Thinking Locally? The Influence of Local Communities on Organizations. Another Harvard article Businesses Beware: The World Is Not Flat, comments what many people outside the US and Canada could tell you:

national borders still matter a lot for business. While identifying similarities from one place to the next is essential, effective cross-border strategies will take careful stock of differences as well … we continue to live in a semiglobalized world, one where differences between countries and regions continue to matter.

According to the ‘flat world’ view and in the case of Dynamics AX, there should be hardly any difference between what is happening in South Africa and the UK. But in SA, AX is doing dismally while it sounds like it is doing well in the UK. The reason must be that those differences between countries are significant. 

What I am now waiting for is companies like Microsoft, SAP and Oracle to appreciate the anti-Friedman view and encourage their marketing, and even development, teams to work with individual countries on localised solutions and messages, rather than thinking they can develop everything centrally and just ‘pass it down’ to the countries.


One thought on “The ERP world is not flat

  1. I think it is important to note Chapter 12 in Freidman’s “The World is Flat” since the very title of the chapter ” The Unflat World” states many of the same concepts as the contrarian articles you have sighted. I do not believe the theories that Friedman espouses state that the world is already flat (in spite of the title), but rather that it is becoming more flat. There is no one in ERP that I have read about or met that would believe that local trade borders, customs, languages and tax policies do not greatly impact the ERP system of choice. But that being said, I deal with multi-national businesses every day and the world is becoming flatter as globalization progresses and moves down the supply chain from Tier 1 providers to the 3rd and 4th Tier providers of ERP systems. The boundaries and differences are not nearly what they were 25 years ago.

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