While a considerable mouthful of a title, and consisting of a report which runs to well over 12,000 words, Gartner’s latest release (December 2015) provides a view on those vendors in the highly contested mid-market space which are leading the field.
For the uninitiated, Gartner’s Magic Quadrant (and that is a brand name) is the research and advisory firm’s method of providing qualitative analysis into the ERP software market to assess its direction, maturity and participants.
Gartner rates vendors in terms of completeness of vision and ability to execute. Just how it does that is not fully explained, but the component scores position vendors in one of four quadrants:
- Leaders – score higher on both criteria, typically larger, mature businesses.
- Challengers – score higher on ability to execute and lower on completeness of vision; often larger, settled businesses.
- Visionaries – score lower on ability to execute and higher on completeness of vision. Typically smaller companies.
- Niche players – score lower on both criteria.
Ten solutions make the main Quadrant board this year, but the report mentions another 11 solutions that are worthy of consideration amongst many more competing in this line of software.
Space does not allow for all to be examined here (nor in the report), so we’ll take a look at the four vendors, all active in A/NZ, that fall into the ‘Visionaries’ and ‘Leaders’ categories. In the former camp are Epicor ERP and Microsoft’s Dynamics AX (refer our recent market update for the local AX partner perspective), and in the latter are SAP (with its Business All-in-One solution) and IFS Applications. To each we go:
Epicor ERP, which Gartner said has ‘a reputation among its customers as a flexible and capable product for manufacturing companies in the small-to-midmarket range (20 employees to more than 1,000 employees)’.
Gartner noted that Epicor (version 10) is based completely on the Microsoft technology stack, while on the ecosystem side, further skill maturation has occurred from implementation partners, with the overall number of implementation consultants growing.
The researcher said Epicor’s efforts to drive efficiency and performance from the Epicor ERP platform are bearing fruit. ‘Epicor’s recent development efforts have been more focused on performance, scalability and technology, rather than on new capabilities. As a result of this realignment of internal resources, there has been less coming out in terms of new functionality or leveraging other Epicor products in an “out of the box” manner in the latest release. However, the overall solution and Epicor’s direction mean it remains in the Visionaries quadrant.’[Our thanks to local Epicor representatives for making this report available. You can get the full report from Epicor here – Ed]
Microsoft Dynamics AX, noted for moving uptown, targeting not only mid-market but now also the lower end of the top of town. Gartner pointed out that ‘as Dynamics AX has grown its functional footprint, so too has its applicability to increasing sizes of organisations’.
The researcher said Dynamics AX has undergone significant improvement during the past four years, and is available on-premises, or hosted by partners on their own infrastructure or on Azure. It noted that during the past year, Microsoft decoupled the Dynamics business unit into its constituent parts, reassigning its core R&D and go-to-market groups, and making Dynamics part of the normal Microsoft structure rather than a separate business system group.
Gartner said this should deliver major benefits for Dynamics AX customers and prospects because it exposes all of Dynamics’ solutions to the rest of the business, when beforehand, only its CRM solutions were really visible and championed in other divisions. ‘These facts combined confirm Microsoft Dynamics AX’s position as a Visionary in this Magic Quadrant’, it said.
SAP Business All-in-One, which Gartner noted is the brand name for some 700 industry-specific solutions built on the German vendor’s baseline ERP Central Control (ECC) product. ‘All-in-One inherits the investment that SAP makes on its core offerings, including ERP and parts of CRM and supplier relationship management (SRM), although with a certain delay’, it said.
Gartner said ‘SAP Business All-in-One continues to be a set of visionary solutions with strong execution, mainly for upper-midmarket and lower-end large-enterprise companies through its direct derivation from S/4HANA, with its strengths in global availability, comprehensiveness and modern in-memory technology’.
That’s the upside. The downside, in Gartner’s view, is that ‘SAP’s strategic focus on S/4HANA has recently overshadowed SAP Business All-in-One’s visibility in the midmarket’.
IFS Applications, which Gartner said has, over the past decade, grown into a global provider of a broad ERP suite for a variety of industries, spanning asset-intensive ones (such as aerospace and defense to oil and gas) to volume-based ones (such as automotive and retail), but also process manufacturing and professional services.
IFS, Gartner said, is one of the few vendors in the Magic Quadrant that is entirely built around one ERP system, with a modular solution globally available and supported through a combination of direct resources and a growing channel of third-party service providers.
‘The company’s visibility and global delivery capabilities are improving, and IFS shows a solid growth trajectory. The roadmap is strong, combining enhancements across the suite with more fundamental modernisation efforts, leading to one of the most user-friendly ERP systems in the market’, Gartner said.
While noting that direct professional services resources are frequently described as very strong, the researcher added that ‘IFS needs to continue its work to educate its growing channel to not lose its delivery quality.’
Figure 1. Magic Quadrant for Single-Instance ERP for Product-Centric Midmarket Companies
Source: Gartner (December 2015)
This article summarises the original Magic Quadrant report and graphic as published by Gartner as part of a wider research document. It should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request from Epicor here. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organisation and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.