Analysts gave a cautious reception to the raft of alliances JD Edwards (JDE) announced at its Focus international user conference in Denver this week to try and flesh out its Internet and front office strategies.
The enterprise resource planning applications vendor said it had acquired struggling supply chain optimisation vendor, Numetrix, for $80 million in cash, and signed a marketing relationship with activity based management vendor, Armstrong Laing.
It then topped off the announcements by unveiling a strategic alliance with Andersen Consulting, formalising a business relationship that goes back some 12 years.
Last week, however, it also agreed to resell customer relationship management supplier Siebel's Sales Internet based application and committed to integrating the two vendors enterprise packages together. This was promptly followed by the surprise news that it had signed a similar deal with Web based procurement applications vendor, Ariba.
But it was the Numetrix acquisition that drew most controversy. On the one hand, analysts agree it provides JDE with sorely needed supply chain optimisation technology.
But, Numetrix has historically had a poor track record with regard to execution and JDE has said virtually nothing about what it plans to do in future regarding the important demand planning sector.
Instead it attests that the demand planning products in Numetrix's ScoreX supply chain line will suffice for the moment and that Numetrix former top management have now gone.
But Jyoti Banerjee, chief executive of TBC Research said: "Whoever put JDE's supply chain strategy together doesn't know what they're doing. Ignoring demand planning is folly. OK - this move has progressed its vision, but it has to evolve quickly."
On the Internet side of things, it had been evident that JDE would have to make some announcement following SAP's outlining of its Internet strategy earlier this month - if only to appear to remain competitive. The partnerships it has put in place with Siebel and Ariba would indicate it has developed a coherent content strategy, however.
The Ariba deal is particularly compelling because it should help businesses improve the efficiency of their business to business procurement activity.
Michael Shmitt, JDE's vice president of worldwide marketing and industry solutions, said: "We think that over 70 per cent of costs can be taken out of purchasing activity through Ariba.com."
But the Siebel relationship is cause for concern.
Judith Hodges, research manager at IDC, said: "Siebel's highly predatory strategy makes it a partner where it could get very uncomfortable. I see this as a stop gap."
But Jeremy Coote, chief executive of Siebel Americas, attested: "This relationship allows us to get to markets we might otherwise not get to for two or three years."
In this sense, JDE is clearly being regarded as a true mid market player that is facing pressure by SAP and Oracle as they go after its traditional sector rather than a top end vendor.
Dave Girard, JDE's chief operating officer, said: "We've gotten fed up of being beaten by these people. It's our time to hit back, but with a solid offering.
But the Siebel deal is only part of JDE's strategy in the customer relationship management space. The Armstrong Laing arrangement also provides it with an opportunity to add business intelligence to the operational side of sales force automation - something that JDE unfortunately does not fully appreciate.
Patrick Connelly, JDE's front office product marketing manager was not even aware of the relationship between the two vendors - something that Armstrong Laing found hardly surprising.
Tony Braniff, Armstrong Laing's chief operating officer, said: "JDE really has no experience of providing decision support and we have to work hard to educate it."
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