I am just starting to look at the ERP market-share results of the major-league enterprise software suppliers such as Infor, Intuit (INTU), Microsoft (MSFT), Oracle (ORCL), Sage and SAP for 2010. Probably because I am thinking in terms of the opening of baseball spring training in Florida and Arizona, I was interested to see one of the ERP-Triple-A league leaders, Unit 4 (UNIT4) Agresso, announce impressive results.
Of course my baseball thinking breaks down given that Unit 4 is primarily a European Union player. But it plays the ERP game with companies such as JDA, Lawson (LAWS), McKesson's hospital information systems, Micros Systems (MICR), Misys, Siemens Medical and the like at the level below the major leaguers and is starting to make noise that it would like to get "called up to the bigs."
I shouldn't call it Unit4 Agresso anymore because it officially changed its name to just Unit 4 during 2010. But I find it confusing that it went through that trouble for branding reasons but keeps the good old Coda brand name hanging around to represent onsite financials while fully ramping up the financialforce.com accounting software as a service (SaaS) site with salesforce.com (CRM). I mean we're not talking Progress (PRGS)-level brand confusion here but it runs the risk. Especially when it took the trouble to tell me in its press release that it would have been more profitable if not for financialforce.com.
Unit4 marketing guys credit its Vita architecture, which I have described previously as stealth business process management (BPM), to be among the reasons for the good year. The Vita technology is a result of Unit 4's 2000 acquisition of Agresso. Unit 4 believes the technology is well suited to the mid-size company that it claims to be serving in the ERP-Triple A league (of course the problem is that Microsoft, Oracle and SAP have "B" squads playing in that league as well).
During 2010 Unit 4 acquired Apprio via financialforce.com and Teta, for some increased presence in Eastern Europe. I don't think either contributed a large amount on a backcast basis so Unit 4's reported 11% growth in euros is probably really impressively up in the high single digits on an apples to apples basis.
-- Dennis Byron
(no financial interest in companies mentioned)