SAP is among two other vendors with an edge over Oracle, Siebel and several other software firms in the order hub management cycle, according to a recent report from Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research.
Order hub management is emerging as companies examine business processes around customer relationship management, enterprise resource management and supply chain systems. Order hubs are being closely aligned to growth in service oriented architecture (SOA) projects and the use of Web service-enabled applications, said Ray Wang, a Forrester business applications analyst.
"Companies are doing some interesting things with business process management tools to be able to change the flow in the way the company interacts with the customer," Wang said. "By having flexibility and the technology to address order fulfillment and other issues in a competitive market is really what order hubs is all about."
Wang said SOA will allow companies to address procurement, campaign-to-order, marketing and other customer and supply chain processes in a much more intuitive way by connecting silos of data from disparate systems.
Forrester ranked SAP's mySAP Business Suite first followed by Sterling Commerce's Yantra software and Comergent Technologies Inc. as vendors that enable customers to administer an order management cycle. These vendors achieved true "order hub" status, according to Wang. The ranking was the result of a study of the tools and software available from vendors that combine enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and supply chain management.
The Forrester Wave was the first business process-focused assessment of its kind, according to Forrester, and it evaluated order management cycle vendors across more than 100 criteria. The study was the result of 10 vendor interviews and 20 user companies.
While SAP is strong in demand planning, installation and repair scheduling and preventative maintenance, it has some missing pieces, according to Wang. SAP has room for improvement in the areas of process support for gift cards, dynamic pricing, event-based settlement, and accounts payable matching capabilities, Wang said.
Currently companies are relying on third party vendors to fill the gaps, but Wang said composite applications, known as SAP xApps could be developed to strengthen SAP's position in this area.
Forrester found SAP to be ahead of other vendors, including Oracle in the area of service oriented architecture and Web services, however the software is still only well suited for customers who are standardizing on SAP or adopting NetWeaver.
While Oracle's overall rank was less than SAP, Oracle's E-Business Suite augmented by its Fusion middleware got high marks as well as Oracle's ability to enable companies to use business process modules, Wang said. But SAP stood out in providing a core application foundation and SAP's industry focus and ability to support slightly easier implementation of third party analytics gave it high marks. Lower maintenance costs also gave SAP an edge, Wang said.
Siebel, Amdocs and i2 Technologies Inc. were in a virtual tie with Oracle. Meanwhile, Microsoft scored relatively low marks with its Axapta and Epicor enterprise software, which delivered on basic order management capabilities but lacked advanced business process capabilities and infrastructure, according to the report..
Software vendors fill SAP, Oracle gaps
Dublin, Ohio-based Sterling Commerce's Yantra software is filling in the missing pieces for companies seeking distributed order management software and fulfillment software mainly in the banking, healthcare, logistics and retail markets.
Meanwhile, Redwood City, Calif.-based Comergent is appealing to both SAP and Oracle customers trying to link data from multiple systems to support inbound order channels and connect software and sales.
Sterling Commerce and Comergent act as integration and order brokering engines, giving companies a way to connect silos of information and put together the first pieces of an order hub, Wang said.
"[Customers] are having trouble with systems from multiple vendors and integrating that information," Wang said. "Integration and order brokering engines allow you to move from one system to another and connect disparate legacy order systems."