Reading bloggers and analysts reviews on ERP solutions sometimes makes me cringe. Often, these writers are US-based, and they seem to think that their experiences in the ERP industry, especially in the mid-market, can be extrapolated elsewhere in the world. I beg to differ.
An example of regional differences comes from a report by the Panorama Consulting Group, which shows that US and European mid-market companies are comfortable with an implementation period for, and an investment on an ERP system which, from this South African’s view, is extravagant.
One of the reasons that mid-market ERP vendors are regionally strong is because, for the mid-market, relevant customer references and industry knowledge in their specific area is important. A recent set of articles about Mistakes Sales People Make points out that creating credibility and lowering the customer’s view of your riskiness is a critical issue.
Another reason why I believe the ERP mid-market is regionalised is because of the markets and the requirements are different. It’s no point a big US software maker talking about their US or European sites to a South African or Indian business, because the worlds and the cultures are so different. This is where I think the ERP vendors should be taking lessons from the consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies.
The CPG companies often have the same product sold in different countries, but the branding, packaging and marketing is specific for those countries. A CPG company in a region will have its own marketing program – from research through to campaign – which could be quite different to the same company in another region. I have not seen that approach adopted yet by any ERP company – where the marketing plan and decision-making is centralised in one developed country.
In my un-researched opinion, based on personal information, these might be some major regional ERP dominances:
UK - Dynamics GP, Sage
Northern and Eastern Europe – Dynamics NAV
Sub-Saharan Africa – SYSPRO, Sage
Middle East – Oracle
I am not familiar with India, Asia or Australia, but would be interested to hear what others think are the situations for those regions.
So, my recommendation to:
- the northern analyst organisations – by all means keep up what you are doing but be more explicit about regional differences,
- the major ERP vendors – break out of your centralised marketing mentality and create teams in separate countries/regions who are allowed their own discretion on what to market, how to package (modularise) it, and how to sell and price it.