TomorrowNow nicks Allianz from Oracle

TomorrowNow, the SAP-owned maintenance provider for Oracle acquired business apps, has revealed sizeable customers including insurer Allianz Australia have latched on its cut-price model since it entered Australia around 12 months ago. The vendor told ZDNet Australia this week it had snared deals with Allianz, casino group Sky City Entertainment Group, and manufacturer National Foods since entering the local market.

TomorrowNow, the SAP-owned maintenance provider for Oracle acquired business apps, has revealed sizeable customers including insurer Allianz Australia have latched on its cut-price model since it entered Australia around 12 months ago.

The vendor told ZDNet Australia this week it had snared deals with Allianz, casino group Sky City Entertainment Group, and manufacturer National Foods since entering the local market.

In total, TomorrowNow currently has 11 customers in Australia, including its first Siebel support deal signed last week, according to regional sales manager for Australia and New Zealand, David Guazzarotto. The Siebel deal means the vendor has Australian customers across all its supported product lines -- JD Edwards, PeopleSoft and Siebel.

Almost all those customers in the region came to TomorrowNow because of concern over Oracle Fusion, according to Nigel Pullan, TomorrowNow's vice president, EMEA and Asia Pacific, TomorrowNow.

Fusion is the name given to Oracle's strategy to integrate the various technologies picked up in its acquisition spree in recent years.

"All of the ones that come to TomorrowNow cannot see the future," said Pullan. "The question [customers] are asking is: 'Why I am paying 20-25 percent of my license fees every year to prefund something that I don't know what it looks like and I don't know whether it's going to match my business?'," he said.

"Why not stay with what I've got and then make the choice when I need to?"

However, the executive rejected suggestions that TomorrowNow would steer customers towards its parent company's software.

"All of our customers are going to change to something at some point in the future. By taking the decision to come to TomorrowNow, they're deciding to sit with what they've got for a period of time, and that's five to ten years, typically."

"In many cases we've built into our contracts the fact that we will not introduce them to somebody from SAP unless they request it. Because they're somewhat concerned that as a subsidary of SAP, once we've got them on our books, we're going to twist their arm and make them go to SAP."

Customers could decide later which system they might move to, he said. "That may be SAP. It may be be Microsoft. It may be Sage. It may be Oracle Fusion."

In the meantime, a customer would benefit from 50 percent lower support and maintenance fees than Oracle's, according to TomorrowNow. Its logic is that it does not provide upgrades or future-proofing, and so does not charge accordingly.

"When a customer of an ERP solution is paying for maintenance they're paying for two things," said Pullan. "They're paying for break-fix. So something's broken. I call you up. You fix it."

"On the other side, what I'm also paying for as a customer is future development. So I'm paying for new releases, new functionality that's coming out that the vendor decides on releasing." The average TomorrowNow customer saved AU$130,000 on Oracle's support costs, according to Pullan.

As a competitor to Oracle, TomorrowNow has no Oracle partner status. Yet Pullan said this did not hamper the quality of their service.

"We don't support the products. We support the customers," he said. "We can only access the customer's code to the degree that Oracle gives them the right to have the access to it. Now Oracle delivers 99 percent of the source code to all of their customers and that's what we use to fix our customers' problems."

"We don't have a set of Oracle software, we just work with what the customer has. As new releases start to come out, the people that we hire, we make sure that they have skillsets in those new releases."

Pullan also claimed TomorrowNow's service did not suffer, despite its pricing model.

"We're not a call centre ... The sort of people that we hire, they average 10 years experience in supporting the products in depth," he said.

"We have a philosophy called a primary support engineer, so when a customer calls they're not speaking to somebody new again who they have to explain all of their environment to and how they're set up. They're always talking to the same person ... so it's a lot quicker process in resolving an issue."

Pullan added TomorrowNow utilised a so-called "follow the sun" telephone support model, where customer requests outside business hours are followed up by other regions. On-side support could also be arranged on a special needs basis, he said. TomorrowNow has around eight staff Down Under.

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