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Survey: ERP vendors need image boost

The Yankee Group says that ERP providers suffer from a lack of brand awareness and that their messages are missing the mark. But some say that selling ERP is a lot different than selling a PC, and ERP vendors can operate on a need-to-know basis.

A Yankee Group study examining the level of brand awareness among large enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors...

reveals that, while SAP and Oracle are two well-recognized names, even the largest ERP vendors need to boost their corporate images.

The study, released this week, was conducted with the help of Market2Customer, a member of Monitor Group LLP, which looked at the power of the ERP corporate image as seen by 350 "business decision makers."

Jon Derome, program manager for the Yankee Group's business applications and commerce advisory service, said it's typical to see about 50% of decision makers recommend a large vendor. According to the ERP study, which Derome authored, the most-recognized brand name was SAP, which had 32% name recognition.

"There's not a lot of distinction between the vendors," Derome said. "And when you look at the attributes that end users associate with the different vendors, there's not a lot of difference."

Oracle Corp., at 16%, was the second most commonly recognized name, and PeopleSoft Inc. scored 12% in that category. When it came to end-user willingness, Derome said, Oracle scored the highest among respondents.

In a research report summary, Derome called the results "surprising" and said that no ERP vendor was able to distinguish itself when it came to customer priorities such as flexibility, service and practicality.

Indeed, the survey showed that the traits advertised by the largest ERP vendors, such as their role as IT visionaries and providers of cutting-edge solutions, were the ones in which customers are least interested.

But one analyst said yesterday that the results of the study aren't that surprising.

"ERP software is not like a consumer brand", said Jim Shepherd, a senior vice president with Boston-based AMR Research. "On a relative scale, it is a rather obscure, low-volume product.

"It's not particularly surprising that brand recognition would be difficult. The vast majority of software companies that don't sell to consumers have very low name recognition.

"SAP would stand out here because it has done a very good job with its advertising and corporate marketing effort over the last several years to become a recognizable name and, of course, it's a very large global company."

In response to questions about the survey, SAP spokesman Bill Wohl said that SAP had not yet seen the report and had not been able to determine the relationship between the interview subjects and SAP's target audience.

"Brand may be one component, but it is not the most significant component in customers' decision-making processes," Wohl said. "The more relevant data is SAP's market share gains against all of these competitors in the market space."


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To provide feedback on this article, contact Robert Westervelt.

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