• April 24, 2006
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Business Process Wheels Need a Strong Hub

Businesses increasingly seek unified solutions to govern the order management cycle (OMC), and a number of robust options have emerged from multiple corners of the enterprise software market. "The Forrester Wave: Order Hubs, Q2 2006" examines the key features of end-to-end order management systems, or order hubs, ranking the top vendors based on current offering, market presence, and strategy. The results of this inaugural study include a mix of solutions from vendors of ERP, CRM, and order fulfillment software. To qualify as a true order hub in Forrester's view, an order management system must do more than manage complex OMC business processes, though that is a key functional area. A hub must support multiple inbound channels; provide flexible and personalized information management; and allow agility in changing processes and adopting the next generation of SOA and infrastructure. "We're trying to find vendors who could take an order from opportunity capture to settlement, including fulfillment and product returns as well," says Ray Wang, Forrester Research senior analyst for enterprise applications and author of the report. "We found vendors leading the way who come from order fulfillment, ERP, and CRM." In all, Forrester identifies 12 standout order hub performers, ranging from megacorporations to niche players. The top ranked product in the OMC market, SAP's mySAP outperformed its competition by just one-tenth of a point in the overall rankings, with order management pioneer Sterling Commerce/Yantra and small but visionary Comergent close behind. "It was a bit of a surprise to see Sterling here, though a pleasant surprise," Wang says. "They're usually seen more in supply chain management. Comergent is also gaining a lot of traction." Close behind the top three are Amdocs, Oracle E-Business Suite, i2, and Siebel Customer Order Management. Forrester describes all four as "a few releases away from order hub status," with each showing strong points in different areas. For example, i2 is noted for having the best functionality from order capture to order fulfillment, but needs to add support for partners and rental leasing. Other strong performers include Epicor Vantage 8.0, SSA Global ERP LN, and JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, another Oracle product. Rounding out the list are Microsoft Business Solutions Axapta 3.0 and Epicor Enterprise. Both applications are ranked as "contenders," the third band of the Forrester Wave (the fourth, "risky bets," is empty). However, both the Microsoft and Epicor products toe the line between contenders and strong performers, showing better strategy and market presence than some higher-ranked products, though their current offerings are notably weaker. The future of the market will depend on vendors rounding out their offerings and making them more adaptable to changing business conditions, Wang says. The last piece of the puzzle for several vendors is "delivering on the promise of SOA and Web services, integrating RFID with the process, and building a partner ecosystem. Also, tying retail returns and reverse logistics back to order fulfillment is something to watch--many vendors have the beginnings, but this is an area that needs growth." Related articles: Beyond CRM and ERP
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